The L200 pick-up truck is an important car for Mitsubishi. Accounting for one third of all Mitsubishi sales in the UK and powering the brand to a top ten place in light commercial vehicle registrations year to date, it’s the cornerstone of a line-up built to establish Mitsubishi’s image as a 4×4 specialist.
Take a look at a Mitsubishi forecourt and you’ll see an array of SUV and 4×4 models and not much else. It’s only the L200 and L200-based Shogun Sport though, that can truly be called off-roaders, with the rest of the stable made up of comfort-oriented SUVs and crossover models.
So with the image of the brand trading off the performance of the L200, it’s important that the Series 6 is up to scratch.
Vital statistics and key changes
The Series 6 is immediately a far better looking car compared with its snaggle-toothed predecessor, with a raised and redesigned front-end, LED headlights and a much-improved interior. The important changes go beyond the cosmetic, though.
The old, 2.4-litre engine is out in favour of a 2.3-litre, Euro 6d-compliant diesel replacement. There’s an extra 35kg of payload capacity and a higher gross train weight of 6,155kg. Braked towing weight has also increased by 400kg to 3.5 tonnes.
The load bed is the same size as before – improvements to payload weights have been managed due to revised suspension and improved, larger brakes – but new side steps and bumper steps mean access to the rear is easier than it was in the Series 5.
There’s once again a six-speed manual, but the old five-speed automatic gearbox is out, in favour of a much-improved six-speed automatic transmission and the drive is much more car-like than before.
Driving the Series 6 L200
The demonstrator sent to us for review was the top-spec Barbarian X model. With full leather interior, ‘puddle lamps’ and big Barbarian X decals and stitching it’s a brash, flash, model aimed more squarely at company car and private buyers than building sites and park rangers.
Our car was an automatic and, while I’m comparing it to the manual shift Series Five I drove on long-term test a couple of years ago, peak power feels like it arrives quicker than it did in the old car.
Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X Double cab Diesel Auto 4WD
Price: CVOTR (£32,200, as driven) Engine: 2.3-litre, four-cylinder, diesel Power: 148bhp Torque: 295lb/ft Transmission: Six-speed automatic Top speed: 106mph 0-62mph: n/a Economy: 36.2mpg CO2 emissions: 206g/km
And when it does, it arrives in a much more subdued fashion. The engine is far quieter, and more refined than the outgoing power plant.
In general, the pick-up rides and drives more like an SUV than a truck. The improved suspension seems to have eliminated the bounciness you used to get at higher speeds when driving with an empty flatbed and the steering is sharper than before.
Drivers can switch between 2WD and 4WD on the move at speeds of up to 62mph thanks to the L200’s low-ratio transfer case via the Super Select 4WD-II system. Adjustable via a centre-console mounted rotary dial, the system offers four drive options – 2H, 4H and 4H with a locked centre differential and 4LLc low-ratio, again with a locked differential.
There are also off-road driving modes offering four specific drive train/driver aid settings regulating wheel slip, engine torque, transmission, stability and traction control to optimise performance for four different terrain types(Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand and Rock).
Better interior and more technology
The Series 6 is not only better to drive, but it’s a nicer place to be as well. Materials in the interior have been upgraded and the seats have additional support.
Our test car featured the Barbarian X “six pack” seat upholstery, which matches the door inserts and arm rests. On the practical side there’s improved storage room for smaller items like smartphones and water bottles and USB connections have been added for front and rear passengers.
The infotainment system is much improved and is enhanced with Apple Car Play and Android Auto if you prefer to use that instead.
Further technology improvements include a 360-degree parking camera, with a split-screen, bird’s eye view, forward collision warning, blind spot warning and lane departure warning and a rear-cross traffic alert. The latter feature is something I felt was actually over-sensitive and pretty annoying around town, alerting me to every cyclist or Deliveroo scooter in a 50-yard radius.
Manufacturers have cottoned on to the fact that a significant number of light commercial sales are never going to set a tyre on a building site – that’s where high-specification models like the Barbarian X find their niche.
They have to retain their practicality though, otherwise what’s the point? With the Series 6 L200 Mitsubishi have managed to improve the driving experience immeasurably and it’s the most car-like L200 ever.
Crucially though, they’ve also improved it as a practical proposition with a more efficient engine, increased capacity and a higher tow rating.
It’s already one of Mitsubishi’s top sellers and I see every reason for that to continue.