According to Mitsubishi, this pick-up truck is the Series 6 version of its L200 model, when in reality it’s a facelift of the previous Series 5.
However, in the brand’s defence, this isn’t just a minor bit of cosmetic tinkering, with the vehicle’s mechanicals and technology also getting a serious overhaul.
That said, it is the styling changes you’ll notice first – and we think most will be impressed with what they see. Mitsubishi says its aim was to increase the pick-up’s road presence, and to our eyes it’s certainly succeeded, especially at the front.
Here, the bonnet has been raised by 40mm and the headlights by a full 100mm, which combined with a more pronounced bumper gives the Series 6 a far more imposing look than the Series 5.
Moving rearward, there are larger, squared-off wheelarches set into flared bodywork, and a redesigned rear end that includes new light clusters and another bigger bumper.
The interior has had a makeover too, with touches including silver garnish on the dash, intended to make it look more like Mitsubishi’s SUV range, and a full-colour LCD display on the instrument panel. On the range-topping Barbarian X model things go further, with bespoke seat upholstery with matching door inserts and armrests, as well as LED interior lighting.
It’s all put together solidly enough – however, even on this top-level model it still feels far from being a premium product, with the preponderance of hard plastics marking out that this is still a working vehicle, although the seats are nicely padded and a soft covering for the central storage bin is a nice touch.
The switchgear also retains a chunky design that will be useful to those out and about and wearing gloves. The rear seats offer a decent amount of space, and are now also compulsory – Mitsubishi has stopped offering a single-cab L200, saying there isn’t the market demand, leaving only club- and extended-cab models in the range, and the former is only available with entry-level spec.
Under the bonnet, the previous 2.4-litre diesel engine has been replaced by a 2.2-litre unit. This means a reduction in power – down from 180hp to 150hp – and also peak torque, which drops from 430Nm to 400Nm, although Mitsubishi claims that since this comes in 500rpm down the rev range driveability is improved.
The new engine does have the advantage of being Euro6-compliant with the aid of AdBlue, and also offers slightly improved efficiency – fuel economy and CO2 emissions with the auto ’box are 36.2mpg and 206g/km with the NEDC-correlated testing regime, and 29.1mpg and 254g/km under the new WLTP regime. On the road the engine performs well enough, with decent grunt, although it does get a bit noisy when worked hard. It’s available with a six-speed manual gearbox, or, as in our test car, a new six-speed automatic, the latter replacing the previous five-speed auto.
We found the gearbox mostly worked well, shifting smoothly, although the drivetrain was occasionally a bit slow to respond to prods of the throttle, and the number of speeds is still down on the seven, eight or even 10 on offer with some rivals.
The Series 6 has also had work done to its suspension, along with the brakes, and the ride is good – more settled with the four-wheel drive system engaged than without – while the steering is nicely weighted and the chassis feels composed in bends, with a degree of roll but nothing wayward.
Refinement is also pretty good, with Mitsubishi’s claimed work on improving the L200’s aerodynamics to reduce wind noise seemingly paying dividends.
Mitsubishi has also aimed to improve the L200’s usefulness as a working tool, with some success. Payload is up, from 1,045kg to 1,080kg (1,075kg with automatic transmission).
It’s worth mentioning also that higher-spec Series 6 L200s have gained off-road driving modes and hill-descent control, while the selectable four-wheel drive system now comes with locked differential and low-ratio settings. Combined with new larger tyres, when we tackled an off-road course we found these effective, enabling us to conquer terrain that was particularly slick and challenging thanks to recent rain. There’s also a wide array of driver-assistance systems to help you on-road as well, including autonomous emergency braking, active stability and traction control, hill-start assist and trailer stability assist, all standard throughout the range.
Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X
Price (ex VAT) £32,200
Price range (ex VAT) £21,515 - £32,200
Insurance group 37E
Service intervals 1yt/12,500mls
Load length 1,520mm
Load width (min/max) 1,000/1,470mm
Load bay height 475mm
Gross payload 1,075kg
Load volume n/a
Engine size/power 2,268cc/150hp
Combined fuel economy 36.2mpg
Mitsubishi has added style and practicality to its pick-up, so it should be well-placed to win over drivers without having abandoned its CV roots.