Fresh from claiming our Best Pick-up crown for the second year in a row, the Mitsubishi L200 is facing another stem test from the new Hilux. To match the Toyota’s strong spec, here we’ve tested the flagship L200 Barbarian Double Cab Auto. It undercuts the Hilux, costing £30,238.
The L200 doesn’t have the heritage of the Hilux, but this is still the fifth-generation model, so Mitsubishi has plenty of experience in building robust and reliable pick-ups But with the Series 5 L200 the firm has paid particular attention to the styling and feel inside and out, as buyers demand more from their working vehicles these days.
As a result, Mitsubishi made a leap in terms of quality. The shape is similar to its predecessors’, dictated by the pick-up’s basic proportions, but as with the Hilux there are more visual highlights . These include a big chrome grille that links the headlight units, while a bonnet with sharp creases that hoods these and a silver bumper insert give the Mitsubishi an SUV-style look from head on.
As with the Hilux, there’s lots of exterior chrome trim on offer to give the L200 a more butch look; this includes chrome bars, mirror caps and side sills . Despite having a narrower body than the Hilux, the L200 is just as imposing, thanks to its curvier roof and rising belt line with a distinct crease that runs along the doors and on to the sides of the bed.
There are more defined details when compared with the Hilux, which – apart from its shark nose – features softer surfaces, whereas the L200’s panels are dissected by sharper creases and lines.
It doesn’t stand as tall as the Toyota, but the Mitsubishi sits just as high off the ground, so grab handles on the insides of the A-pillars are a welcome feature to haul you up and into the cab. Once you’re sat there you feel as though you’re perched higher than in the Toyota, partly due to the low roof. It also stems from the supportive standard leather seats, so the driving position gives you a great view out . Initial impressions suggest the L200 doesn’t quite stack up to the Hilux inside; the flat touchscreen built into the dash isn’t as slick as the Toyota’s tablet-style interface. Build quality is solid, though, even if some of the plastics indicate otherwise.
Some bright trim and piano black plastic lift things, but the interior still feels geared to cope with the rigours of a working life.
Sat-nav, Bluetooth, keyless go and cruise control will all make that easier, too, while leather seats add extra comfort and a little more quality. Both vehicles feature dual-zone climate control, but the Mitsubishi makes do with xenon lights to the Toyota’s LED units . As with the Hilux, the L2oo’s reversing camera helps when manoeuvring its sizeable body around.
Push the L200’s starter button and the 2.4-litre four- cylinder turbodiesel doesn’t catch with the same clatter as the Toyota’s. It’s
not actually much quieter on the move, but it delivers stronger performance.
With 178bhp and 43oNm of torque to carry a far lighter 1,860kg vehicle, the L200 was much quicker, sprinting from o-6omph in 10 seconds flat. It also had the measure of the Hilux in our other performance tests The L200 has only a five-speed box compared with the six-speed set-up in the Toyota, so combined with shorter ratios, it was punchier in gear. While changes aren’t the fastest, the Mitsubishi isn’t as eager to kick down as its rival, so despite higher cruising revs at70mph, it’s more relaxing to drive.
This is helped by the ride, because although the L200 uses a similar leaf spring suspension set-up for its rear end, the Mitsubishi feels more composed and controlled over the same roads. Corner too fast and the chassis will still tie itself in knots, but there’s more grip, which means you don’t have to work the slow steering quite as much as you do in the Toyota.
A welcome trade-off is that there’s even more stability, so it’ll be just as reassuring with a trailer in tow or a load on board, while the L200 has a rotary controller for its switchable all-wheel-drive system.
Like the Hilux there’s a locking rear diff, plus Mitsubishi gets a low-range mode for the gearbox to give you even more effective pulling power.
It’s only available in four-wheel-drive mode. However, with a click of the rotary dial you can drop it back into rear-wheel drive when the conditions don’t demand it, improving efficiency.
There’s plenty of ability if you stray away from the tarmac, with strong grip and ground clearance to call or But once you’re back on it, the L200 still can’t live up to its SUV styling, even with the smooth auto.
Still, it’s better to drive than the Hilux, hiding its underpinnings more effectively. It’s also relatively refined for a pick-up, but ultimately both are still flawed choices when it conies to driving dynamics.
Out of 32 brands in our Driver Power 2016 satisfaction survey, Mitsubishi finished 31st. This also includes results for its passenger cars, although owners of previous L200S seem to be happy with reliability, so we’d expect similar for the new model.
The latest pick-up hadn’t been on sale for long enough to feature in our 2016 survey, but it has been tested by Euro NCAP; it achieved a decent four stars.
It doesn’t come with auto emergency braking like the Hilux, but does match the Toyota’s seven airbags and Isofix tethers, plus lane departure warning and trailer stability assist are fitted to the Barbarian model.
Running costs 4.0/5
Mitsubishi’s £720 three-year servicing package is a fairly cost-effective way to keep the l200 on the road. Routine maintenance on the Toyota works out more expensive, with its first three services coming to £870 individually. The L200 should also prove cheaper to insure, with our sample driver saving over £80 a year compared with one running the Hilux.
The L200 can handle a slightly larger a load than the Hilux, but can’t pull such a heavy trailer, although the differences aren’t great, so it doesn’t actually lose out that much in terms of practicality. It’s as roomy on the inside, too, but it’s slightly easier to get in and out of.
Little touches like a gas strut to stop the folding tailgate crashing open help the Mitsubishi claw back ground on the Toyota. When a vehicle is put to work, such details can make all the difference.
There’s lots of storage, with a big bin between the front seats, a pair of cup-holders and a handy tray in front of the gearlever, plus the door bins and glovebox add extra space inside for odds and ends.
Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Double Cab Auto
Engine: 2.4-litre 4cyl turbodiesel, 178bhp
0-60mph: 10.0 seconds
Test economy: 31.5mpg/6.9mpl
Annual road tax: £265
HEAD TO HEAD
If you’re in the market for a pick-up, your decision might come down to the cost of ownership. Factoring in the purchase price, depreciation, fuel, road tax, servicing and insurance for three years, the L200 works out the cheaper model to run by £407. Its advantage will be enhanced if plans to tax trucks based on CO2 emissions go ahead.
What the 200L loses in practicality, it definitely makes up for in the way it drives. It’s more settled, the auto box is better abd the more powerful engine is also quiter. This means the Mitsubishi is the easier pick-up to live with if you’re working behind the wheel a lot.
Toyota has adressed the old Hilux’s major flaw by offering 13cm more width across the load bay than before, along with an improved towing limit. The truck is more usable than ever, but is still only a slight step up, and can’t quite compete with rivals.