Mitsubishi L200 2.4-litre diesel
Bangkok. A place that defines hustle and bustle but also has its own quirky form of beauty. Oh, but let's not forget its god damn awful roads.
Tuk tuks, animals, children, potholes, traffic...The list of hazards at every turn goes on. Understandably, when I was invited on a week-long trip there, I felt a weird mix of excitement and sheer dread.
The excitement was not only about the country I'd be visiting, though. More important was the fact I'd be driving a Mitsubishi L200, not just on the roads but also off them, to test out the pick-up's rough and ready capabilities. It’s a competitive arena, with rivals including the Toyota Hilux, Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger, Mercedes X-Class, and Nissan Navara, but luckily the L200 has lots to offer.
Due to first go on sale in Thailand, where it is known as the Triton, before being rolled out to 150 countries worldwide, the L200 will be arriving in the UK late summer 2019. Unfortunately the spec and engine we drove isn't confirmed to be the same as we'll be getting over here next year, but getting our mitts on it ahead of most other media meant it was worth the gamble.
To compete with its herd of competitors, the new version of the L200 is not settling for a quick facelift. No no, the Japanese brand has decided to make more than 2,400 changes to the pick-up, saying this ‘extensive reworking’ accounts for a substantial number of improvements, as well as a variety of new found abilities.
The facelifted pick-up incorporates Mitsubishi's global Dynamic Shield front fascia design concept, which you may recognise from the Pajero Sport. What that means in layman's terms is a high engine hoodline, larger headlamps and more sculpted bodywork, all of which give the L200 a more aggressive physique.
The L200 will be available in single, club and double cab versions depending on the market, and will likely cost more than the current model due to extra safety equipment. Today’s pricing starts at £19,505 in the UK, for instance.
Even in its double-cab form, swerving various hazards on the roads wasn't a problem for the truck. It feels considerably smaller than it is, which is always a good sign. The L200 has plenty to brag about in the back, too, with lots of good knee and headroom, helped by the fact that the seats are already reclined by about 25 degrees.
Mitsubishi has tried to make this truck as car-like as possible. But you have to remember that at the end of the day, it is still designed as a work vehicle with a best-in class towing capacity. Despite this, handling is vastly improved from the previous model, and comfort is improved too. The steering feels more direct and responsive in town due to its tight turning circle of just 5,9 metres. There aren't many blindspots either, and over-the-shoulder and rear-view visibility are pretty impressive for its size.
A new 'Super-Select 4WD' system delivers traction and handling characteristics tuned to any given surface via selectable drive modes called Easy-Select 4WD. Several off-road modes include Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand, and Rock settings to tune the drivetrain and chassis response to varied terrains. We locked it in low-range mode with hill descent control on, so how did it cope on the gravel and rock? Like this...
As well as the new exterior, there are some small design changes in the cabin, too. While the L200 is only just as good, if not slightly better than you'd expect with any pick-up on the market, the refreshed dashboard has been tweaked with some new trim elements and switchgear surrounds. Mitsubishi says that new soft touch materials are used on the console, centre armrest and handbrake and it really does make quite the difference when jumping in.
Although not confirmed for the UK just yet, the L200 will continue with the previous-generation's 2.4-litre 126hp or 178hp petrol and turbodiesel engine options. Loud though they may be, both have conviction and pull away easily. The five-speed automatic gearbox is no longer, however, and has been replaced by a new six-speed automatic transmission which throws long but makes up for it with precise changes.
It may seem an obvious thing to say but if it's an SUV you're after, go for an SUV. Think less ballet dancer, more Thai boxer with this L200 workhorse. As good as its on-road manners may be, this is ultimately a truck. The ride isn't the quietest and the engine may surprise you if you were expecting a smooth SUV sound, noticeable while going through town but less so at a stable cruise. Despite its gruff characteristics, the new L200 has proved itself as a worthy upgrade on the previous model. If you're looking to carry a tonne of cargo, just fancy a few hours of fun hooning it about the rocks and gravel, or simply want a pick-up to carry a few tools from time to time, the L200 is your match made in pick-up heaven.