LONG and lean, the new pick-up truck had the saturnine features of a gunslinger that had
LONG and lean, the new pick-up truck had the saturnine features of a gunslinger that had just breezed into town.
Any allusion to a staple character of a Zane Grey novel is not far off the mark — once cowboys gave up their horses as their transport of choice they took to the humble pickup in their droves.
The rest, as they say, is history. The pickup truck over the years has become the daily companion of the world’s workmen.
These days it has been reinvented many times into a leisure vehicle, now known as the ubiquitous SUV (sports utility vehicle).
And the makeovers continue apace. Yet one classic pickup — the one that could claim to have taken the historic role of an original, the Mitsubishi L200 — has had a ground-up remodelling.
Indeed, this week’s drive, the new L200 Series 5 Barbarian Double Cab, was so spanking new it had literally just got off the boat after arrival last week in the UK. I took delivery of it with no more than a smidgeon of miles on the clock.
And it was very long and lean. It also came cool and collected in Polar White. I think that this was probably the longest vehicle I had ever tested.
Mitsubishi has gone to town on the L200. For where the cowboys and workers of the world once made do with the rudiments of space and comfort in their pickup trucks, now they can be as comfortable as in a luxury car.
So there is “outstanding cabin comfort and ride” in the new L200 Series 5. The Japanese carmaker describes how it achieved the vehicle’s “class-leading” legroom.
The ‘J’ curve body design between cabin and cargo area is unique and not just for styling. It allows for a 25 degree recline in the rear seats, making for a comfortable four- or five-passenger “long journey” space.
Interior width has also increased, as have the sizes of the driver and front passenger seats, which now incorporate high density, soft touch “memory” foam.
After a few hundred miles of driving the new L200 I liked its latest comfort-zone design features — the more visibly accessible dashboard, the feeling of cabin wellbeing. But what I liked most about the new L200 was its drivability.
It has a new automatic transmission and fully revised suspension for a smoother ride under all conditions. Although these types of vehicles now rarely travel on anything other than asphalt, it is worth trying them off-road if the opportunity arises. This can be fun and a true indication of what the vehicle is capable of achieving.
With a rear load cabin fitted over the pickup area and the long, luxurious double-cab space inside, you feel safe and secure while travelling in what I find as an increasing hostile environment on the road.
I was also able to find an immediate practical use for the L200: moving flat for my youngest daughter. This entails a lot of loads of different sizes: beds, bags, chests of drawers, kitchen equipment and the like.
The L200 swallowed all this myriad of essential possessions with ease and comfort. There was also no question of any load being too much for the vehicle.
Its pulling power is extraordinary: it has a full towing capability of 4.1 tonnes. I think it is a pity that more motorists are not aware of the great engineering that goes on under the bonnet of such vehicles — after all, the L200 was built originally as a workhorse.
In the model’s new 2.4-litre MIVEC turbo diesel engine, power and torque have been increased to 178bhp and 430Nm at 2,500 rpm, delivering impressive performance through a new six-speed manual transmission or automatic. Changing the material of the cylinder block from steel to aluminium has been made possible because of the lower compression ratio of the engine. This has reduced the weight of the new L200 by 30kg.
Acceleration is not paramount to me in such a vehicle, yet the L200 Series 5 is two seconds quicker to 62mph than its predecessor.
With a combined 42.8mpg, the new L200 has the largest range in its class: 685 miles on a full tank. And at 169g/km CO2, it has the lowest emissions in its class by as much as 33 per cent.
Mitsubishi says this safeguards owners “against a future emissions-based tax regime for commercial vehicles”.
Whatever your view of this type of vehicle, the large SUV is here to stay.
It may be up for reinvention — that is, large hybrids and electric, with hydrogen powered vehicles just around the corner — but the new L200 proves it has earned a place in the motoring world of the early 21st century.
The all-new L200 Series 5 went on sale in September. Initially available in double cab, prices start from £19,749 for the 4Life, £20,749 for the Titan, £23,049 for the Warrior and £23,799 for the top of the range Barbarian.
New L200 features include:
Keyless operation system with engine stop/start switch