Vans of the Year

Date: Tuesday, December 08, 2009

 

Mitsubishi L200

Once again Mitsubishi’s L200 has driven off with our Pick-up of the Year award; and this time around it is even more deserving of the accolade than it was in the past. That’s because the manufacturer has at last seen fit to address one of the stylish workhorse’s drawbacks; the fact that in four-door double cab guise, its load bed is a tad too short for some applications.

Solution? Add a Long Bed model to the line-up and sell it alongside the standard double cab offering. It gives owners an extra 180mm of load length to utilise — taking it up to 1,505mm — while retaining the same wheelbase as its shorter stablemate. What’s more, the cargo box’s sidewalls are slightly higher than the ones fitted to the standard model and have a more-horizontal upper edge.

Up for grabs solely in four-wheel drive guise, the 1,000kg-or-thereabouts-payload L200 is marketed with either a two-door single cab, a club cab — a stretched version of the single cab with a pair of occasional rear seats — or with the aforementioned Double Cab.

 

A 2.5-litre diesel generates 136hp, 168hp or 178hp depending on the model you pick. For your money you get a five-speed manual gearbox — an automatic ’box can be specified on some versions — along with selectable Easy Select dual-range four-wheel drive with a low-range set of gears to hand should the going get rough. Super Select is fitted to some L200s instead. It consists of a central viscous coupling that automatically adjusts the front/rear torque split and includes a traction control system.

A variety of specification levels are listed starting with the basic 4Work in a line-up that also includes Warrior and Animal trim. L200 variants such as Warrior, Animal, Trojan and Raging Bull have always done well and helped build the vehicle’s image over the years. Especially impressive is the Walkinshaw Performance double cab with its fully-independent five-point multi-link rear suspension and 20in alloy wheels.

Internally you get Bluetooth, cruise control, a ten-disc CD auto-changer and leather seats. Even the less-well-specified Trojan double cab comes with climate control and electric windows and mirrors. At the more prosaic end of the market, L200 can also be ordered as a tipper or a dropside.

On the highway L200 rides and handles competently, build quality is unassailable and there’s sufficient power under your right foot to meet the majority of requirements. With 178hp to play with the beefiest models pack more than enough punch and are a real pleasure to drive, no matter whether you’re on the motorway or dicing with tractors and combine harvesters around country lanes.

L200 performs well in the rough too, with enough torque on hand to keep it out of most kinds of trouble. The most powerful version excels in this department, churning through the mud and refusing to admit defeat.

While 4x4s aren’t always all that manoeuvrable, that’s rarely a problem with Mitsubishi’s load-shifter. Even the Long Bed can cope with tight situations that would probably defeat some of its competitors and come out smiling.

Mitsubishi is of course far from being the only player in the pick-up market and our Highly Commended prize goes to Ford’s recently revised Ranger.



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