Mitsubishi’s latest L200 pick-up truck, the Barbarian
Mitsubishi’s L200 pick-up truck has been in production in its current form since 2006 and, available in single, club or double-cab variants, has proved popular with farms and estates. The range had a major update in 2010, and David Williams tried out one of the latest 2015-model twin-cab versions, the Barbarian, to see if the L200 is getting a bit stale or whether it still has what it takes to merit consideration against newer competitors.The Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian satisfies the need for comfortable and practical family and farm transport.The Barbarian is one of Mitsubishi’s higher-spec variants, offering extra comfort and performance over the base 4Work model but without all the glitz of the range-topping Walkinshaw. It is available with a single or twin cab, the twin-cab version supplied for the test having comfortable leather seats as standard front and rear, and a long list of high-tech features.Engine and performance
The Barbarian is powered by a 175hp 2,477cc 4-cylinder power unit, giving lively on-road performance and allowing the truck to accelerate better than many conventional cars, and to hold its own on windy back roads or at higher speeds on motorways. There is plenty of grunt to haul a large trailer or to keep the truck moving off-road with a buck full of logs, or sacks of seed or fertiliser.The L200 engine lacks torque at lower revs, so pulling away from a junction in second, or changing up the gears too early means acceleration is lacking until the engine speed increases and the turbo speed rises.With the seats right back, legroom at the front is good and there is still enough space at the rear for adults.The 5-speed transmission allows 70mph to be achieved at approximately 2,500 revs, and after a long journey of several hundred miles the average fuel consumption was a reasonable 34.2mpg. Average on shorter journeys, more typical of general farm use was lower, but well within expectations.The manual transmission offers high and low ranges, a lockable rear differential and 4wd engaged all by the range lever. Off-road in low range the ratios allow low travel speeds at high engine revs, and there is plenty of overlap between gears making it easy for the operator to use the vehicle’s power effectively even in variable, tricky conditions. An automatic transmission is an option.Ride and handling
Ride quality is good on and off-road. The large 245/65R17 tyres fitted to the alloys of the test vehicle ensured good grip on the road, during both wet and dry conditions and provided traction on slippery farm tracks. The pick-up is also equipped with Mitsubishi’s active stability control and traction control systems, which provided reassurance when accelerating away from roundabouts when the road was damp.The double-wishbone and coil spring suspension at the front is excellent, and complemented by functional elliptical leaf springs at the rear, but on a very bumpy track the ride was noticeably smoother with a load in the buck than when the truck was unladen. Ground clearance is 205mm. Manoeuvrability is very good, the tight steering lock providing an 11.8m turning circle.Practicality and comfort
The L200s styling is smart but functional. Several comments were made about the truck’s sleek lines; the cab and the rear load buck appearing to be separate modules mounted on the same chassis.Despite its curved rear profile, which would suggest that getting to the rear seat might be a squeeze, the doors at the front and rear are large enough to provide convenient access, even for taller passengers.Mitsubishi claims to have the largest cabin length, and rear legroom in its class. As would be expected, with the front seats fully back, there is limited legroom for the rear seat adult passengers but it was acceptable, and would only be an issue on lengthy journeys.The leather seats are comfortable and practical being easy to wipe down and are heated for the driver and front-seat passenger. The seat temperature selection switches are low down on the dashboard, just in front of the gear and range selection levers, and partially hidden from the view of the driver. An armrest in the centre of the rear seat, which can be lowered when a third rear seat passenger isn’t carried, adds to the comfort.The Barbarian is loaded with technology including a comprehensive trip computer, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity for phones and media. Windows front and rear are electric. Cruise control is standard, and was very easy to use, the switches positioned conveniently on the steering wheel.Climate-control air conditioning maintains a constant temperature. The display screen of the Kenwood entertainment and satellite navigation system doubles up as the display for the reversing camera, and the driver can select alternative displays, including a constant rear camera view in a corner of the main display, even when driving forwards.The truck is rewarding to drive with good performance from its 175hp engine, and loaded with technology including a built-in sat-nav, trip computer and Bluetooth connectivity for phone and audio devices.The cab is well-equipped and comfortable, and there is plenty of storage for odds and ends, but nowhere convenient for a large smartphone, surprising in view of the superb connectivity for such devices offered by the Kenwood entertainment system.The load buck is practical, with internal dimensions; 1,505mm long, 1,470mm wide and sides 460mm high, and convenient internal tie-down points are provided. The wheel arches are in the front corners of the buck, making it easy to brush and hose out, and clearance between is 1,085mm.The rear tailgate, almost the full-width of the load area, is substantial. It opens and closes with a firm clunk, and is on decent-sized hinges. The test vehicle was fitted with a very practical and durable liner, an essential addition for typical farm use. Unladen, the Barbarian weighs in at 1,885kg and has a permissible gross weight of 2,945kg. Maximum towing weight is 3,000kg with a braked trailer.The load bed is a decent size and a practical shape with a good strong tailgate to put up with typical farm use. The load bed liner fitted to the test vehicle was excellent, but the cover, while providing secure storage and load protection matched the vehicle’s attractive lines but compromised rear visibility.The vehicle provided for the test had a rear load buck cover fitted which mounts squarely on the buck, with a gap between it and the cab keeping noise and vibration to a minimum. A separate glass screen seals it at the front but means that to use the rear view mirror the driver has to look through three tinted glass screens, fine on the brightest sunny day, but almost impossible on the darker winter days of the test-drive.The good news is that the two large door mirrors provide an excellent rear view, and there is also a reversing camera, the image from which appears on the central display screen when reverse is selected. Mounted directly above the tow ball, it also makes backing up to trailers very easy.Servicing
Servicing is every 9,000 miles or 12 months and the warranty is five years or 125,000 miles. A manufacturer service plan costing 562.50+vat is available to cover servicing for the first three years. A 12-year anti-corrosion perforation warranty is provided.Daily checks are easily carried out and the bonnet lifts high for clear access.Under the bonnet, all the regular service checkpoints are clearly indicated, and the checks are easy to carry out but our one criticism is the windscreen wash filler which is very small, especially for such a functional utility vehicle. Fuel tank capacity is 75 litres (16.5 gallons), and the filler cap is released using a small lever under the dashboard. Verdict
The Barbarian is well equipped with lots of technology in the cab but, for many farms, the most attractive features offered by the high-spec model will be the functional leather seats included as standard, the practical load area, and the powerful engine which provides good towing and load-moving capability with performance to allow safe overtaking when needed.The ride quality is very good, and the truck feels secure both on and off-road. The next major update for the series isn’t planned until late 2015 at the earliest, but the latest models offer a good package with looks and performance which enable it to compete well against its current main rivals. The latest L200 performs well and, priced at 23,299+vat, is a cost-effective and comfortable solution for those requiring a dual-purpose vehicle for farm and family-transport use.