Fifth-gen pick-up gets a host of upgrades, including much-improved handling, and is a great choice for those looking to use it as intended

What is it?

This is the fifth generation of Mitsubishi’s eminently popular and practical Mitsubishi L200 pick-up. Its predecessor, the Series 4, was launched in 2006 and is claimed to have outsold all of its rivals, including the fabled Toyota Hilux.

Consequently, it's understandable that the company hasn't decided to try and reinvent the wheel for this, the latest version. It's easily recognised as an L200, despite there being a total of some 330 changes.

Outside you'll find refreshed styling, while the cabin boasts improved sound insulation, more equipment and better seats. Underneath, the L200's chassis has been stiffened with new bracing and the use of more high-strength steels, while longer rear leaf springs and retuned front suspension work to improve the handling and ride.

There are significant changes under the bonnet, too. Mitsubishi foresees a future where emissions-based taxation comes into effect for pick-ups, so the company has worked hard to ensure the new all-aluminium 2.4-litre turbodiesel in the L200 is as clean as possible.

Features include variable valve timing and a variable-geometry turbocharger, and the net result is 173g/km of CO2 in this specification; the next-best rival, the Isuzu D-Max, emits a far higher 192g/km of CO2. 

Consumption has also dropped to an impressive average of 42.8mpg - 4.1mpg better than the D-Max - while power and torque has climbed slightly compared to the engine found in the Series 4.

What's it like?

As entertaining to drive as all pick-ups are, at least initially. That hefty slug of low-down torque, the light back axle leading to easy wheelspin in rear-drive mode, the high-ridin’, mud-pluggin’ feel - the usual grin-inducing factors are all present and correct.

What’ll come as very good news to anyone looking to actually drive it somewhere, however, is that the Mitsubishi’s talents extend far beyond it simply being a bit of rough, rugged short-lived fun. 

Head out onto the road and what you’ll immediately notice is a comparative absence of body roll. This is a far more composed affair than before, and all the better for it. The steering has a suitable heft and precision, making it easy to plot and hold your desired course, and the rack is quick enough to prevent you from having to wildly flail away at the wheel every time you want to execute a sharp turn. Like commandeering a rogue oil tanker this is not. 

There’s a decent amount of front-end grip, too, so cross-country driving with a bit of pace isn’t the fear-inducing, hedge-flattening experience you might expect. Neatly wrapping up the Mitsubishi’s on-road manners are sensibly configured controls, including a long-travel clutch pedal with a predictable biting point, an easily moderated accelerator and smooth, powerful brakes, all making the L200 simple to drive, particularly in rougher conditions. 

In two-wheel drive mode, in wet conditions, it’s predictably easy to light up the rear tyres – there’s a lot of low-end torque, after all – but switching to four-wheel drive negates that issue at the twist of a dial. The 'Super Select 4WD' system features a Torsen centre differential which, in road-going mode, splits the power 40/60 front to rear. The rear-biased power distribution helps quell some understeer, further helping the Mitsubishi drive in a more positive fashion. If it’s dry we’d suggest sticking it in two-wheel drive mode, though, as besides being more efficient, it also feels a little smoother. 

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What is stereotypically pick-up-like is the ride. With a solid chassis, a live rear axle and leaf springs, plus a suspension set-up that’s designed to deal with a hefty payload, it’s bouncy to say the least. Drive down a rough country road and it can feel akin to a pogo-stick. On smoother roads and at lower speeds it’s perfectly tolerable, though, and you have to temper the unladen complaints with the fact that this is a working vehicle at heart and it is set up as such.

If you’ve driven any relatively recent diesel hatchback recently, then the L200’s gruff engine may come as a surprise. It's more audible nature is no doubt a side effect of its all-aluminium construction. That said, the noise does settle down in steady-state cruising conditions.

The turbocharged 2.4-litre diesel produces its peak of 178bhp at 3500rpm, and it’s at this point that you’re advised to change up as power fades away quickly thereafter. That said, the engine propels the L200 down the road with conviction, and while the motor might sound like it's got little in the way of an effective rev range, it pulls eagerly – even in taller gears – from as little as 800rpm. 

This pulling power, in conjunction with sensibly spread gear ratios, helps cut down on excessive gear changes. The six-speed manual has quite long throws but the gate is snappy and precise and mis-shifts rare as a result. Settle into sixth on the motorway and you’ll find the engine turns a placid 1800rpm at 70mph, too, boosting economy and cutting noise. During our test the L200 returned a decent 30.1mpg, granting it a range of just under 500 miles on a full tank. Mitsubishi's claimed 42.8mpg would result in a range of some 700 miles.

We tested an L200 fitted with off-road tyres in some pretty arduous conditions and it dealt with everything thrown at it with aplomb, as you’d hope. An anti-stall feature means it’ll ascend steep slopes without any throttle input from the driver, while decent engine braking and a short first gear means the lack of an electronic hill descent control isn’t a problem. The 4WD system offers up a locked centre differential mode, which is ideal for rougher terrain, as well as a low-range mode for heavy-duty conditions.

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Where the L200 does better than its rivals off-road, however, is with regards to its turning circle. It’ll swing around in 5.9m, compared to a Hilux’s 6.2m, and that gives the little extra bit of clearance you need to tip-toe around obstacles. Visibility is good, too, and it’s easy to judge where the corners of the Mitsubishi are, in part thanks to large door mirrors. 

Inside, it’s a pretty conventional affair. The seats are comfortable, there’s a decent enough range of adjustment – including rise and reach for the steering column – and plenty of room. The instruments are all clear, the switchgear easy to identify and there’s plenty of storage points. There’s room enough in the back for six-footers, and space for three adults abreast, while grab handles and a central armrest mean there’s enough for passengers to brace themselves with should the going get rough. You can tip the rear bench forwards, too, exposing a storage area. It’s ideal for keeping valuables or tools out of sight.  

Kit levels are excellent. This ‘Warrior’ edition's features include electric driver’s seat adjustment, sat-nav, a rear-view camera, bi-xenon lights, cruise control, dual-zone climate, DAB, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, rain and dusk sensors and lane departure warning. In this respect it compares well to many conventional mainstream SUV offerings. You get plenty of safety kit, too, including stability control, seven airbags and trailer stability assist.

More pertinently, those looking to use the L200 as a working vehicle should find the L200 more than capable of meeting their demands. The load bay will take a Euro pallet and withstand up to 1040kg, while the grooved cargo bed make it easier to unload or partition. This L200’s combined towing and load weight is a substantial 4.090 tonnes, a figure higher than the likes of the Volkswagen Amarok, Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Hilux. 

Business and private buyers alike will benefit from a five-year/62,500-mile warranty, a 12-year anti-corrosion perforation warranty and a three-year pan-European roadside and home start assistance package. Service intervals are every 12,500 miles or 12 months, whichever is sooner, which should prove tolerable for most. 

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Should I buy one?

If you’re looking for a pick-up to use as a working vehicle then the Mitsubishi L200 is a great candidate. It’s good value, practical, easy to drive, comparatively comfortable and better than its rivals in many areas. It's also a considerable improvement over its predecessor. Touches such as its long cruising range and tight turning circle only further the appeal.

Private buyers entertaining the idea of owning a pick-up instead of a more conventional SUV will need to remember, however, that this is still very much a rugged, functional working vehicle - in both design as well as nature.

Sure, you can chuck your bike in the back, go careering around off-road and have a riot while doing so, but when you return to the blacktop, the lively ride, unremarkable interior and more mechanical, audible powertrain could leave you wishing you’d gone for something like an Outlander instead. 

Mitsubishi L200 DI-D Warrior Manual UL2

Location Warwickshire; On sale Now; Price £27,658; Engine 4 cyls, 2442cc, turbodiesel Power 178bhp at 3500rpm; Torque 317lb ft at 2500rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1860kg; 0-62mph 10.4sec; Top speed 111mph; Economy 42.8mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 173g/km, 32%

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Rich boy spanners 24 July 2015

Only thing stopping me having

Only thing stopping me having a pick-up already is the length of them - too long for the drive.
Other than that would be perfect, can withstand (better) the pot holed roads, the wife's inability to not hit kerbs, 4WD for the snow and Lake District hiking trips, and can chuck the bikes on the back so no more dropping seats/bike racks.
Can live with the ride.
Daniel Joseph 25 July 2015

@Rich boy spanners

I owned a 2002 Ford Ranger 4WD double-cab from new for seven years and really enjoyed its usefulness and no-nonsense honesty. It was brilliant for lugging everything from building materials to garden waste. The load liner was indestructible and a doddle to hose out. There was, however, one major shortcoming: with no load over the rear axle and running on all terrain tyres, the braking was pretty poor and the rear wheels would lock up with very little provocation, particularly in the wet. I had a few heart-stopping moments when the car in front braked very heavily. I don't know if newer pick-ups are better in this regard, but I would advise anyone considering buying one to take it for a test drive unladen and try out the brakes.
michael knight 24 July 2015

Chrome OD

I like the honesty of this thing. But there's a serious amount of chromeage happening all over it. The wheels look too small as well, but then, given the ride errs on the side of choppy already, they're probably that size for a reason.
Jeremy 24 July 2015


"Consumption has risen to 42.8 mpg". Er, I think you mean it has decreased to 42.8 MPG?
Lewis Kingston 24 July 2015

RE: Consumption

Morning Jeremy. You are indeed correct; many thanks for the heads-up.