Driving a hefty pick-up truck in tight city streets can present a wide variety of challenges, as James Dallas discovers
Driving a pick-up truck in the cramped heart of London can be an interesting experience and one that does not always find favour with those piloting vehicles of more modest dimensions.
Some fellow drivers appear to feel that if you’re behind the wheel of a large 4x4 emblazoned with the name ‘Barbarian’ then you are likely to lack civilised road manners and should therefore not be entitled to the courtesy afforded to other motorists.
This can extend from residents’ annoyance that your vehicle takes up more parking space than a supermini and a lack of willingness to give way to you when appropriate, to accusations of single-handedly destroying the planet’s air quality.
On the other hand, motorists of a more timid nature dive into the nearest pull-over space out of harm’s way when they see the terrifying, chrome-nosed beast of an L200 come into view, and allow you a clear path through the narrowest streets.
But with traffic-calming measures becoming an increasingly common feature of streets in the metropolis and with many of the back route shortcuts navigable only in smaller vehicles, driving the L200 can be frustrating, especially when stuck behind a refuse truck with no chance to execute a U-turn, as happened recently.
But with a turning circle of 11.8m curb to curb, Mitsubishi claims the L200 Series 5 is actually more manoeuvrable than rivals such as the Isuzu D-max (12.2m), the new Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger (12.4m) and the VW Amarok (13m).
What’s more, the manufacturer also says the steering can go from lock to lock in 3.8 turns as opposed to 4.3 turns in the Series 4 L200. A handy feature when squeezing between rows of parked vehicles or gingerly crawling past oncoming traffic are the retractable wing mirrors, activated by a button on the driver’s door next to the electric window switches.
Most of the time during urban motoring, of course, the off-road capabilities of our Barbarian are not called upon. But there are exceptions: during the heavy rainfall in January we were able to happily splosh through flooded streets without trepidation and could easily access the slippery and muddy car parks adjacent to kids’ Sunday league football pitches that were getting other parents’ cars into difficulties.
Changing from 2WD to 4WD High mode is effortlessly accomplished via a turn of a centrally positioned dial and offers the sort of tarmac capability that builders regularly need in order to enter construction sites.
Mitsubishi claims the L200 Series 5’s Super Select 4WD system means it is the only pick-up that can be driven in 4WD mode on the road without compromising cornering ability due to its Torsen-design centre differential. The driver can switch between 2WD and 4WD High at speeds of up to 62mph.
In most on-road situations 2WD is more than adequate and will help to keep fuel costs down. Our Barbarian has not been entirely confined within city limits and offers a decent level of refinement and comfort on long motorway stretches. The steering provides the driver with a fair amount of feedback, and in extremely windy conditions the truck remains reassuringly steady. If it does stray, of course, then a selectable lane-departure warning immediately makes the driver aware with a sharp beep. The LDW switch is situated low to the right of the steering column so it’s as well not to turn it on and off when on the move.