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On-test: Focus on fuel efficiency for latest Mitsubishi L200

Mitsubishi has revealed its fifth series of the venerable L200 pickup truck, said to feature 330 improvements. Geoff Ashcroft reports.


It has taken 33 years, but Mitsubishi’s latest L200 double cab pickup truck finally gets a steering column with reach and rake adjustment, giving drivers much more scope to get comfortable behind the wheel.


This small but important step is one of 330 improvements made to the fifth series of the L200 as Mitsubishi seeks to make the driving experience more car-like.


The L200 is available in double-cab guise only, and the latest line-up includes an entry-level 4Life model, followed by Titan, Warrior and Barbarian, with each gaining more specification and progressive increases in price.


Keyless operation with push button start, hill start assist, trailer stability assist and DAB radio are some of the specification improvements now available. And next year, this new L200 will also be available with a Fiat badge.


With more kit now added to the mid-spec Warrior model, Mitsubishi expects it to account for the majority of sales, and overtake the previous best-selling model, the flagship Barbarian.


Visually, this latest pickup is unmistakably L200.

Visually, this latest pickup is unmistakably L200. Maneuverability is maintained thanks to a 5.9m turning radius introduced on the previous model, and the firm’s striking J-line body curve between the back of the cab and the cargo area has also been carried over.


Its curved body affords better internal space for passengers, says the firm. There is more rear legroom for backseat passengers, though it has come at a cost: the electrically opening back window which was useful for carrying longer loads has been eliminated from this latest design.


Mitsubishi says removing the window mechanism has enabled the rear seat to be pushed further backward.


Little has been carried over from the previous model. The old 2.5-litre four-pot engine makes way for ta Euro 5b compliant 2.4-litre aluminium engine being used in the firm’s Outlander.


Variable valve timing, a variable geometry turbo, cooled EGR plus DOC/DPF – there is no AdBlue requirement on this engine – combine to deliver two power levels. The lower-spec 4Life model gets 151hp and 380Nm of torque, while Titan, Warrior and Barbarian get 178hp and 430Nm of torque.


The new engine is also 30kg lighter, which Mitsubishi says contributes to an improvement in fuel efficiency. Additional weight savings come from a greater use of high tensile steels, creating a stiffer body and tighter chassis, as Mitsubishi focuses on improved handling, better ride comfort and greater fuel efficiency. As a result, you can expect the L200 to sip its way through fuel.


On the combined cycle, there is the promise of up to 42.8mpg for the higher-powered engine and a giddying 44.1mpg from the 4Life model using the lower powered engine.


This lighter truck can pick its feet up a little quicker too. The L200 is capable of reaching 62mph in 10.4 seconds.


Load bed dimensions are largely unchanged. However, an opening rear windscreen is now a thing of the past.

Those over-looking the five-speed auto box to stay with a three-pedal driving experience finally have six gears to choose from. The lever offers a shorter throw and a better split of ratios makes the truck better suited to towing, says the maker. That sixth gear overdrive also keeps revs low when cruising, helping to boost fuel efficiency.


But losing weight also comes at a cost. And in this instance, it is the ability to gain more towing capacity. The latest L200 trails behind the Ford Ranger and Isuzu D Max’s 3.5 tonne towing capacity by 400kg. Those looking to get a tachograph installed will need to deal with a third party supplier.


However, pickup bed payload is a handy 1,045kg, so it still qualifies for a VAT reclaim. The load bed is within a few millimeters of its predecessor when it comes to length and width, easily swallowing a Euro pallet. Though there has been an increase in height of 15mm. Four load lashing points – two up front and two at the rear - remain unchanged.


There is provision to slot a partition into those models using a load bed liner, which makes it possible to contain smaller items nearer the tailgate.


You will still find hard plastics inside the cab; integrated touchscreen sat-nav is a big improvement.

A change in suspension sees a thicker anti-roll bar and uprated, longer springs up front, while the rear suspension gets 120mm longer leaf springs and tuned dampers. The L200 delivers a noticeably taughter ride.


Unladen, there is still some fidgeting and light pummelling in the back on less than billiard table smooth roads, though the truck no longer rolls around corners like an errant shopping trolley.


The new engine spins freely to the red line, and the 178hp model we tested keeps pulling without running out of breath. Though you will need to ease back a bit if you want to take advantage of the L200’s new-found fuel efficiency. Six gears with a shorter throw lever certainly make progress seem quicker.


It is a reasonably quiet place to sit too, with the latest engine making less of an introduction to occupants. However wind noise was more noticeable at national speed limits.


Lane departure warning, standard on Titan models and up, is a tad interfering on country lanes. Its default setting is on, and it becomes active at speeds over 40mph. You will need to fumble below the steering wheel to switch it off, and then remember to repeat the process every time you start the engine if you do not want to be electronically nagged.


Super Select transmission is now managed using an electric rotary dial.

As in previous high-spec L200’s, the Super Select transmission does not disappoint. Now controlled using an electric rotary dial instead of a gear lever, the system adds convenience and simplicity when it comes to driving all four wheels.


It can be slotted in and out of 4wd at up to 62mph, and the use of a Torsen centre differential instead of the viscous coupling, means the torque split is no longer 50:50 but a more useful 40:60, sending more grunt to the rear wheels.


The opportunity to drive the L200 on simulated icy surfaces at MIRA’s test facility revealed just how good the L200’s revised traction and stability control systems are, giving reassurance when unsighted slippery conditions present themselves.


It appears that Mitsubishi has developed a much-improved pickup, offering greater comfort, safety and convenience. But with other new pickup trucks due soon, it needs to be good if it is to maintain its popularity gained in recent years.


Mitsubishi L200 Series 5

  • Models: 4Life, Titan, Warrior, Barbarian
  • Prices: from £19,749
  • Engine: 2.4-litre, 4-cyl turbo diesel, with 151hp/380Nm (4Life); 178hp/430Nm (Titan, Warrior, Barbarian)
  • Transmissions: Six-speed manual, five-speed auto
  • 4wd: Easy Select with rear diff-lock (4Life); Super Select with MASTC (Titan, Warrior, Barbarian)
  • Performance: 10.4sec 0-62mph, 111mph, 42.8mpg combined, 173g/km
  • Towing capacity: 3,100kg
  • Payload: 1,045kg
  • Servicing: 12,500 miles/12 months
  • Warranty: 5 years/62,500 miles
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