The latest arrival onto What Van?’s long-term fleet is our newly crowned LCV of the Year for 2016, the Mitsubishi L200 pick-up truck.

In what is set to be an unprecedentedly busy period in the sector, the L200 is the first in a series of new models to break cover. Historically, the L200 has been hugely significant, doing more than any other pick-up to shape the market for desirable lifestyle or dual-purpose models, which sprang up when users realised they could sidestep VAT when buying one.

The Series 4 L200 dominated the market when it was launched in 2006, making off with the What Van? Pick-up of the Year Award for six years in a row before the competition began to catch up.

Now, in a vastly more competitive sector, we want to gauge whether Mitsubishi’s truck can recapture its position of prominence. The fifth generation of the L200 is available in four trim levels: 4Life, Titan, Warrior and Barbarian, and, initially at least, only in double cab format. Prices range from £19,749 to £25,199, excluding VAT, for the top-spec Barbarian Automatic (five-speed).

We have opted for the Barbarian with the six-speed manual gearbox, which comes with a price tag of £23,799.

Style-wise, the new L200 is not radically different to its predecessor. It remains a sleeker, narrower beast than other pick-up model on the market, most of which – think of the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara and Volkswagen Amarok for example – tend to look chunkier and squarer, but it has gathered considerably more chrome on the front end.

The new model retains the so-called ‘J-line’ design that integrates the load bed with the cab. On the Series 5 the J line is more pronounced with the aim of maximising interior space inside the double cab. We can testify there is plenty of legroom in the front and rear window seats, but would not recommend going five-up for any length of time because the middle seat is a squeeze.

Mitsubishi has replaced the 2.5-litre engine in the Series 4 with a new common- rail direct fuel-injection 2.4-litre unit with outputs of 151hp in the entry-level 4Life and 178hp in the Titan, Warrior and Barbarian derivatives.

The brand claims fuel consumption of 44.1mpg for the base model with CO2 of 169g/km, but quotes 42.8mpg and 173g/km for the rest of the range, which, at the time of launch in July 2015, it says was 11% better in terms of economy than the next best, the Isuzu D-max on 38.7mpg.

The manufacturer claims its use of an aluminium, rather than steel, engine block has reduced weight by 30kg and resulted in a 20% fuel consumption improvement over the Series 4 model. Obviously, the top-of-the-range Barbarian driven here is the most well- specified L200 derivative, but much of the most useful and appealing equipment is also standard lower down in the range. The 17-inch alloys, DAB radio, lane-departure warning and dual-zone air-conditioning all come on board with the Titan, for example, and the Warrior adds heated seats for both front occupants and electric adjustment for the driver’s seat as well as the very useful satnav and indispensable reversing camera. The Barbarian offers mainly cosmetic upgrades on the Warrior: more chrome, leather trimmings and door handle covers. Additionally, we ordered our truck with an optional hardtop load cover, tow bar, bonnet guard, mat set and load liner.

Mitsubiishi L200 Barbarian

Mileage  3649

Official combined consumption 42.8mpg

Our average consumption 29.5mpg

Price (ex VAT) £23,799

Insurance group 9 (est)

Warranty  5yrs/62,500mls

Service intervals 12,500mls

Load length       1470mm

Load width        1470mm

Load bay height  475mm

Gross payload   1045kg

Engine size       2442cc/178hp

On sale             September 2015

Options (ex VAT)  GST hardtop £1393

         Tow bar and 13 pin electrics £274

          Load liner £177

          Bonnet guard £54

           Mat set           £50