What Van? got an early chance to get behind the wheel of the revised L200 pick-up on its global launch in Thailand.
Despite the fifth-generation L200 having only been launched three years ago, Mitsubishi has decided to celebrate the popular pick-up’s 40th birthday in style.
Not settling for a quick facelift, the brand decided to make more than 2,400 changes to its new version, saying this “extensive reworking” makes a substantial number of improvements to the truck, as well as bestowing upon it a variety of new-found abilities.
The pick-up market is becoming increasingly competitive, with new and established rivals like the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, Ford Ranger and Nissan Navara all battling for market share. Keeping the L200 among the class leaders is therefore vital for Mitsubishi, especially when it is expecting to sell more than 180,000 pick-ups globally this year.
The L200 will first go on sale in Thailand – where we drove it on its global launch – before being rolled out to 150 countries worldwide, arriving in the UK late summer 2019.
The revised L200 is one of 11 new or refreshed models Mitsubishi will launch by the end of 2020 as part of its ‘Drive for Growth’ strategy. Those developments follow its acquisition by Nissan to become part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
The first thing you’ll notice that’s different from the previous iteration of the van is the exterior bodywork. It looks noticeably different to the previous model, rocking a more muscular aesthetic to complement the L200’s rugged stance. The revisions include a new design that features the brand’s Dynamic Shield grille concept at the front, along with revised headlights to give it more road presence.
There are also extended wheel flares, revised bumpers and rear lights.
The revised interior looks less like a utility vehicle and more like an SUV – although it will not be challenging the Mercedes’ X-Class in that particular department.
The safety equipment is of the type routinely seen on cars nowadays, but relatively unusual in the pick-up world. It includes forward and rear collision mitigation, blind spot warning, lane-change assist and miss-acceleration intervention, complete with 360° video cameras to keep cab occupants safer than in any previous Mitsubishi truck.
There’s just one engine in the L200, a (loud) 2.4-litre four-cylinder diesel. It’s available at 181hp in the double-cab variants, and is offered with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox. The engine itself is relatively smooth when compared to some rival models, and the gearboxes make good use of the power available.
Mitsubishi hasn’t announced at this stage exactly what engine will be going into the UK-spec trucks when they arrive in late summer 2019, but it is expected to be this one, with potentially further improved emissions and hopefully more refinement on the noise front.
On a test route just outside of Bangkok near to the L200 manufacturing plant we drove through busy streets, bamboo forests and off-road sections, and the truck performed incredibly well in all conditions. The steering carries adequate weight, meaning there are no problems negotiating smaller streets.
Although the everyday business user might not find much use for all of the functions on the rotary Super-Select 4WD system, the system does enable drivers to choose between rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, and they can customise engine power, transmission and brakes for a variety of specifically testing conditions, including gravel, mud/snow, sand and rock. The pick-up also has improved rear shock-absorber capacity for increased ride comfort.
This is a notable improvement when compared to the last L200 – some of the bounce is definitely gone and rough surfaces are less of an uncomfortable challenge.
The new Hill Descent Control system was pretty impressive too. As long as you’re not doing more than 12mph when you commit to an incline the system will maintain existing velocity.
Being so far ahead of its UK launch, there aren’t any UK prices for the 2019 L200 available yet. The present L200 is one of the best-value pick-ups on the market, a real selling point against rivals, so we fully expect this to remain the case at the end of next year.
With an improved drive, increased safety and dramatically different looks, it is undoubtedly more enticing than before, pushing the L200 near to the top of its class.
Mitsubishi L200 2.4-litre 180hp diesel
Price (ex VAT) tbc
Price range (ex VAT) tbc
Insurance group tbc
Service intervals 12,500mls
Load length 1,620mm
Load width (min/max) 1,085/1,470mm
Gross payload 1,145kg*
Engine size/power 2,442cc/181hp
Combined fuel economy 37.7mpg*
The beefed-up new L200 should present a tougher challenge to its rivals, but it remains to be seen whether it can regain Mitsubishi’s position at the pinnacle of the sector.