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Risky business with new L200

Created on 30/11/2015 @ 15:01
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Test Drive by Graham Breeze

Replacing your best seller is always a tricky business, particularly when it’s the model that has won you accolades for the past 33 years.

So Mitsubishi chiefs knew they had to get things right when unveiling the new L200. After all this was the model which reignited the pick-up sector and introduced new generations of drivers to macho motoring.

You see them everywhere you go, wind blowing in their hair and with muscular arms draped out of open windows, no matter what the weather conditions may be. The pick-up driver is from a different breed.

The L200 has long been setting the standards in this sector so any new launch is risky. And working on the principle that “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it” few would have condemned Mitsubishi for revealing just a few tweeks to the proven product.

Instead the L200 Series 5 is an entirely new vehicle from the ground up with the company claiming significant improvements in no less than 330 areas. Mitsubishi claim best in class efficiency, performance, emissions, manoeuvrability, carrying capacity, 4WD ability, SUV level driving refinement and aerodynamics.

The UK market seems to have gone pick-up mad with Mitsubishi facing opposition from all corners as more and more realise the benefits of a vehicle which can retain a comfortable and refined cabin while at the same time offering transport solutions for builders, bikers and farmers – and a lot more too.

The new arrival really is a traditional pick-up from top-to-toe though, a five-seater double cab offering with plenty of the necessary chunky styling that attracted 6,500 sales last year.

The beauty is that you can use the generous load bay to do just about any job while keeping the doublecab clean and safe for any family occasion.

There’s a choice of models to pick from, starting with a single cab version at less than £20,000 through to a top-of the range variant at £35,390, so there’s a model to suit just about every pocket and need.

The L200 Series 5 has the largest carrying capacity of any pick-up and with a combined 42.8mpg uses between 11and 47 per cent less fuel than its rival. At just 169g/km it also has the lowest emissions in class.

Power and torque have been increased to 178bhp and 430Nm at 2,500rpm delivering top performance through either a new six speed manual or automatic box. At 10.4seconds the new L200 is two seconds faster to 62,mph that its predecessor.

Like the opposition, which mainly comes from VW Amorak, Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux and Isuzu D-Max, the L200 is more comfortable on road than off -  though is more than capable in the mud and track. The problem is we tend to judge all off-road performance with Land Rover and Jeep and the pick-up will never have that much ability.

Around town you are constantly reminded if diesel is your choice, though there’s a marked improvement on the open road and while there’s plenty of wind noise there’s very little feedback from the road.

The pick-up sector is popular with firms who can claim back the VAT and with company car drivers too because a portion of price attracts flat rate taxation. On a safety note there are seven airbags and the steering wheel retracts cleverly on impact. There are also shock absorbing structures around bumpers and the bonnet to minimise pedestrian injury on impact.

It’s easy to get comfortable behind the wheel thanks to lots of seat and steering wheel adjustments but passengers were complaining that that the seating was too hard and lacked back support- not a problem I noticed myself. The controls are impressively easy and nicely chunky to reflect the image.

There’s no mistaking that Mitsubishi has really upped the pick-up game with the new L200, but don’t’ expect the opposition to sit back. This a very lucrative sector and there will be a reaction.


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