Monday, 10 December 2018

Barbarian would make a beefcake second-row forward on rugby pitch

THE sport you grow up with is usually the one that stays with you for life. Mine has always been

THE sport you grow up with is usually the one that stays with you for life. Mine has always been rugby, mainly because I played it avidly — and enjoyed it enormously — as a schoolboy and into my early twenties.

The name Barbarian therefore has a particular resonance for me: the Barbarians — or Baa-Baas as they are affectionately known — were always the crème de la crème of rugby players, the icing on the cake of any playing season however good or bad it turned out to be.

The history of the Barbarians goes back to 1890. The concept — the vision of one man, William Percy Carpmael — was to form an élite team. They had no ground, clubhouse or subscription and membership was by invitation only. Carpmael’s dream was to spread “good fellowship amongst all rugby football players” — a noble notion that today when the international game has its truly brutal side — still, to my mind, holds good.

The Mitsubishi Barbarian therefore has a lot to live up to by adopting such a name.

It is a great long beast of a vehicle and would, if it ever took to a rugby field, make an excellent second-row forward. Too robust to be a loose-head prop yet maybe too sleek to play at number eight (lock), this sophisticated version of what was once a utility truck, would give the competition a run for its money. Indeed, the Mitsubishi Barbarian proves the point that with some imagination and innovation, carmakers can re-invent tried and trusted models and create new sales.

If you look at the trucks or pick-ups that have evolved over recent years into large and comfortable modes of transport as an alternative to large 4x4s and the big SUVs (sports utility vehicles), the Barbarian is among the best.

The Barbarian is one of the models available in Mitsubishi’s L200 model range. To show the extent to which this segment has grown since the L200 first appeared in the UK in 1987 potential buyers who favour these models can choose from Single, Club (short wheelbase) or Double (long wheelbase) cab variants. So you get a variety of options if you want to make what was once a workhorse of a vehicle your family “car” of choice — or still use the L200 for your work.

The Single cab is available in 4Work, 4Life specification; for Club Cab L200s there’s 4Work and 4Life, and for Double Cab there are 4Work, 4Life, Trojan (with standard load bed only), Warrior, Barbarian, Walkinshaw and the Barbarian Black special edition models. Barbarian and Warrior L200s come with a powerful and improved — both in terms of torque (pulling power) and economy — 175bhp, tuned 2.5-litre DI-D DOHC common rail diesel engine, with intercooler and electronic common rail injection as well as a five-speed manual gearbox or a fully automatic option.

Don’t be fooled by the sheer size and presence of the Barbarian. This is a sophisticated and highly capable four-wheel-drive vehicle you could take on practically any terrain.

And yet the beauty of these kind of “new” versions of work trucks is that they are also at home on the road system we all share.

Whether you are plonking down twisting country lanes or on the latest strip of motorway, the Barbarian plays its part with skill and judgment in performance and handling. And, of course, that load area at the back is very handy for any number of jobs you might undertake from hauling garden waste to the tip to camping holidays in the Scottish Highlands. This does not mean you do not have to be aware of its size. The Barbarian is a big fellow and in that sense I found while at the wheel although a powerful vehicle with a commanding presence, it was also possible to view it as a gentle giant. But then a bad driver is a bad driver in any vehicle, be it a supermini or an SUV.

I have been driving these kinds of large vehicles for a number of years now and I must say that Mitsubishi has taken on board the need to bring them into the 21st century in terms of becoming “greener” and more acceptable as family vehicles.

The Barbarian’s power is awesome yet I look forward to the day when it can be successfully harnessed perhaps in a hybrid version, thus having the best of both worlds.

The Mitsubishi Barbarian features:

• Barbarian graphics

• Chrome rear lamp bezels, door mirrors and handles

• Sport front grille

• Reversing camera

• Kenwood integrated satellite navigation system and multi-display station with touch-screen operation

• Luxury leather seats with Barbarian logo

• Bluetooth hands-free kit

• Illuminated door entry guard

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