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Mitsubishi L200 2.5 DI-D Warrior Double Cab Long Bed

Click to view picture gallery“Mitsubishis L200 is What Van?
  magazine’s Pickup of the Year for
  the fourth consecutive year.
  But that
s not all: its also won 14
  times in the past 17 years...

WHETHER THEY ARE USED AS LIFESTYLE TRANSPORT or as workhorses, length matters for the load bed of double cab pickups. Mitsubishi Motors came a cropper in 2006 when they launched their then new L200 range because, for the main-selling 4x4 double cab versions, they went for style over function and ended up with the shortest load bed in the sector.

The four-seater double cab, with its flashy Motorsport-inspired looks, lacked little for passenger space within the four-door, fiver-seater cab but the 1,330mm load bed length just didn't meet the requirements of users and consequently sales suffered badly, losing Mitsubishi their long-held Number One sales position in the sector firstly to the Nissan Navara and, more recently, to the new Ford Ranger.

At more or less the same time the recession started in the car industry and the Government re-classified double cab pickups at more or less the same Benefit-in-Kind tax rate as company cars, so business users and company car drivers who had opted for a double cab moved back to more driver-friendly and comfortable forms of transport such as estates, MPVs and SUVs. Pickup sales in the UK fell by 53% in 2008 and they are down by another 25.3% again this year (2009) although November sales perked up with a 17.8% increase.

With a possible 'green shoots' of growth starting to appear in the new vehicle market, Mitsubishi have added to their already comprehensive range of double cab pickups with Long Bed versions. These have 1,510mm of load length at the rear: an increase of 180mm or roughly seven inches. For good measure, power outputs on some versions using the 2.5-litre, four-cylinder DI-D turbodiesel engine have been increased — from 134 to 176bhp, the most powerful in this sector.

More good news for Mitsubishi, whose L200 Long Bed Double Cab has just been awarded What Van? magazine's Pickup of the Year title for the fourth consecutive time. It has won that title for 14 out of the last 17 years of the competition — an impressive record!

So whether the new L200 Double Cab Long Bed 4x4 is used as a lifestyle vehicle or a workhorse, it is now at least competitive for size; it can still tow 2,700kg (braked) and the payload is 1,045kg. Plus it is the winner of numerous awards.

The L200 Long Bed is available in 4Work, 4Life, Warrior and Animal levels of specification, covering most needs. Long Bed models range in price from 17,536 (including VAT) to 25,816. Running costs are reasonable for a 4x4 heavyweight vehicle of this type because customers can take the Mitsubishi Service Plan option which covers three-years/37,000 miles and costs just 395 plus VAT.

The new L200 Warrior Long Bed I have just sampled still has the sporting design front-end which you either like or think looks a bit 'soft', especially if the vehicle is to be used as a workhorse. An unlikely situation for Warrior specification L200s, where business user-choosers and lifestyle customers are the target audience.

Drawbacks include
the size (it really is
daunting to park) but
on the plus side it keeps
on winning awards
Warrior specification for fixtures and fittings includes electrically-operated windows and door mirrors, 17-inch alloys, traction control, cruise control, climate control, leather steering wheel, a good multi-speaker sound system and rear chrome bar as a bumper. My test vehicle also had the full leather upholstery treatment and weighed in at 22,826 including VAT.

The extra 42bhp (it's now up to 176bhp) certainly improves the acceleration and the huge 295lb ft of torque from 2,000rpm really does give flexible and progressive pulling power. Unladen and with the vehicle in rear-wheel drive mode, the tail is very prone to wheelspin with the rear-end sliding out on corners and roundabouts in damp weather. In the pouring rain it's even worse — traction control simply could not cope. With this amount of power on greasy roads it's best to enjoy the extra performance with the 'super select' 4WD system kept in all-wheel drive.

The 'super select' system allows for high ratio two- and four-wheel drive, differential lock and low ratio four-wheel drive. All these operations are done through an old-fashioned and slow-to-use lever system rather than the more modern dial and mode switches.

The new Ford Ranger takes double cab driving to a new height of sophistication over the L200 because the Ford product has an anti-stall function. This means that in four-wheel drive low ratio setting the accelerator is not touched and the engine will pull the vehicle up very steep hills, up over rocks or wading through water at tickover speed when the tyres have most traction. Wheel speed kills grip, not something that some inexperienced off-roaders seem to understand. The Ford Ranger also has 'descent control' — basically the anti-stall setting in reverse; the engine and wheels do all the braking using just tickover speed.

Despite its hefty power output, this L200 is reasonable on the juice — my test vehicle returned an average 29.7mpg against the official 32.8mpg (combined cycle) and the vehicle wasn't used for carrying any heavy loads or for much off-roading.

Ride comfort is not good but then it generally isn't for pickups due to their rugged ladder-frame chassis and rear leaf springs with shock absorber set-ups. Certainly the ride will be 'calmer' with weight in the back.

Roadholding was not great either; the body leans and rolls during cornering, pitches fore and aft during acceleration and braking and, as already mentioned, the tail will step out of line if a heavy right foot 'presses-the-metal' too much.

With an overall length of 5,180mm, width of 1,800mm and a height of 1,780mm the L200 Long Bed is a huge vehicle to park — spaces are just not that big so I would recommend optional front and rear parking sensors are fitted.

Drawbacks include the size (it really is daunting to park), not very sophisticated handling and poor rear-end road grip in the wet. On the plus side it keeps on winning awards, it's tough and rugged, has four doors and seating for up to five people, a high level of cab equipment, longer load bed length, extra power and it's also good for towing and serious off-roading.

Plus a payload of 1,045kgs and a braked towing capability of 2,700kg does 'the business' whether it is used for work or recreation. While the latest L200 Long Bed looks better balanced thanks to the extra load bed length, in Warrior specification it is very much a workhorse dressed up as a thoroughbred. — David Miles

Mitsubishi L200 2.5 DI-D Warrior Double Cab Long Bed
| 22,826
Maximum speed: 105mph | 0-62mph: 11.3 seconds | Overall MPG: 29.7mpg
Power: 176bhp | Torque: 295lb ft | Insurance group 9E