July 21, 2019

Raft of changes set to broaden L200’s appeal

Forty years after its launch, Mitsubishi has revamped its workhorse pick-up, the L200. George Barrow looks at what’s changed on this sixth generation model.

It has been just three years since we last saw an update to the Mitsubishi L200, during which time it seems like the pick-up segment has gone crazy with new and updated models. Sales continue to remain buoyant and will once again pass 50,000 units, so it is little wonder that Mitsubishi has decided to update its no-nonsense L200 pick-up truck to keep up with the pack.

Not wanting to be left behind, and with something of an anniversary to celebrate – it’s 40 years since the first L200 arrived – Mitsubishi has revamped the sixth generation vehicle with a tough-looking exterior makeover and some improved driver safety systems. There’s also a brand new automatic gearbox taking the total changes in the new model to more than 2,400 – not bad for the facelift of a truck that would otherwise have lasted seven or eight years.

The most noticeable change is the new front that is every inch the archetypal macho pick-up. The major change is centred around the new headlight position, which is now 100mm higher and sitting a full 700mm from the ground. This not only helps strengthen the looks but more importantly improves visibility by bringing the lights above the wading height depth.

Side bodywork has also been redesigned and the rear end has also undergone quite a transformation too, most noticeable by the new lighting cluster. The important and useable parts of the L200 do, however, remain completely unchanged with a double cab still capable of transporting up to 1,040kg, with a maximum load length of 1,520mm and width of 1,470mm ensuring that existing load covers and other accessories can be transferred over to the new vehicle.

Six-speed auto

Mechanically, there is a new six-speed automatic gearbox with high and low range, but there has also been improvements to the Super-Select 4WD system. It is now possible to select between specific terrain modes with Gravel, Mud & Snow, Sand and Rock settings. Each of the modes alters the throttle response and traction systems to optimise the L200’s performance across the surfaces. Providing you remember to rotate the dial into the correct setting, the L200 can effortlessly tackle almost any situation making off-road driving even easier. Add to that the new Hill Descent Control system, which works differently to other manufacturers in that it will maintain the speed of your descent at whatever speed you are doing (providing it is less than 12mph), and the changes suddenly start to look a lot more interesting than just a new appearance.

Something that hasn’t changed is the L200’s engine. Mitsubishi is still undecided upon what unit the new L200 will use when it is launched in the UK next summer. During our test drive at the launch event it was being powered by the current 2.4-litre 178hp turbodiesel, an engine that could still be used but with modifications to meet the Euro-6D emissions standards. The alternative, currently under discussion, is starting afresh with a downsized engine.

The additional ratio on the auto box is a welcome change which lowers both noise and fuel consumption while also improving the shifting smoothness.

Improved suspension

The rest of the changes affect the way the L200 performs on- and off-road. Bigger shock absorbers have been added to the rear suspension while the front end gets larger brakes. The new brakes certainly get the job done – not that stopping the L200 was ever an issue – and are part of a renewed ethos, one of “Engineered Beyond Tough”, as if to underline its rugged new look and upgraded abilities. The improved rear suspension is a positive addition to the L200’s on-road performance too. The L200 has long been one of the rougher riding vehicles in the segment with quite a bouncy rear-end but it is now much smoother. While far from perfect, it’s a big step forward over the current truck and one which puts it on a more even footing with its most obvious rivals the Nissan Navara and Toyota Hilux.

Safety features

Several new safety features have also been added including a new 360-degree bird’s eye camera which is great for seeing obstacles in front of you or at your sides. There’s also a Blind Spot Warning detection system with Lane Changing Assist, forward collision prevention, brake assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert – which warns of any collision as you back-out of a space. These are all systems that the rest of the segment is acquiring, so Mitsubishi is simply taking the opportunity to keep pace.

There is one addition that is ahead of the curve, though. The tongue-twisting Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System is designed to stop acceleration when manoeuvring in tight spaces if it believes a collision is about to occur. This should prevent those expensive slow speed bumps with hard to see objects like bollards or stacks of materials in a yard.

Changes on the inside have been kept to a minimum, but Mitsubishi has added a wealth of USB ports to the L200. It’s not the most interesting of cabin upgrades, but there are now two USBs in the centre console and two more for those in the rear seats. Other unremarkable changes include some soft-touch padding around the transmission tunnel and grab-handles mounted to the B-pillars – inconspicuous additions that won’t have customers queuing up at dealerships.

One thing that is entirely new on the inside is the rear ventilation system. It helps recirculate air from the front of the cabin to the rear occupants. At best, it provides a slight breeze that might keep hot-and-bothered rear passengers slightly happier.

No one has ever questioned the L200’s working ability as it has proved itself time and time again as a tough and reliable worker. The changes for 2019 help underline that durability but also refocus the model and appeal more to the often entirely road-based user. And the tough new look will likely melt the heart of many a new customer.