Mitsubishi has been making hay with its L200 pick-up truck since the end of the 1970s, and given the continued rise in popularity of four-door models like it, the sixth edition is very likely to be the most successful yet.
Mitsubishi has already sold 4.7 million copies of this Thai-built model around the world, and these days it accounts for one-third of all Mitsubishi sales in the UK. What's more, British buyers take a little less than half of all L200s sold in Europe, so the company’s Japanese bosses tend to take careful heed of local feedback – one reason why the model has been such an enduring success here.
The markedly more handsome sixth-edition L200 well reflects UK consumer comments: it's familiar in dimensions and mechanical elements but has been usefully improved in nearly every important aspect. The chassis frame and suspension (independent up front, leaf-sprung live axle behind) have had a rethink to give a better, quieter ride, and there’s a new all-alloy 2268cc, 148bhp diesel engine to cope with ever-tougher European clean air legislation.
The engine is actually a little smaller than the outgoing 2.4-litre unit (the previous model will continue selling in low-spec form for a couple of months) and sheds around 15bhp, although to maintain flexibility this peak is achieved about 500rpm lower in the rev range and maximum torque continues to be generous at 295lb ft.
How has Mitsubishi refreshed the L200's looks?
The new styling creates instant impression of extra presence – something the outgoing L200 lacked in comparison with rivals such as the Ford Ranger and Mercedes-Benz X-Class. All models, even the entry-level, shorter-cab 4Life are well equipped to cope with a growing demand for gadgetry. There’s now a new top-spec model called Barbarian X — tested here — on sale at £32,200, which with the almost-as-plush Barbarian should attract around 40% of customers.
Overall styling has been changed to adopt the 'Dynamic Shield' style already seen on the Outlander (Mitsubishi’s other big UK success) and smaller ASX SUVs. It’s far more modern and assertive; the clamshell bonnet has been raised 40mm to improve the view over the bonnet from the driver’s seat and the new LED headlights are mounted 100mm higher than before. The squared-off wheel arches and tougher-looking rear styling (with new LED tail-lights) also give a more contemporary look.
The interior is plusher and more car-like, with better-looking and more comfortable seats, a thicker-rimmed steering wheel, more fascia brightwork and screen-based gadgetry that's the equal of what you'd find in a well-equipped saloon. The Barbarian X gets bespoke 'six-pack' seat styling with sporting-type side bolsters, plus LED interior lighting. Mitsubishi is stressing the L200’s new comforts because its marketing people reckon buyers reluctant to embrace a new diesel SUV may find it easier to change to a civilised pick-up.