Mitsubishi pick up where they left off with their new L200
I CAN remember when the Mitsubishi L200 was the hottest property in town, thanks to a benign VRT rate that made it so inexpensive families were climbing aboard.
First drive in Nice... Mitsubishi L200
Much has changed and the L200, with many of its ilk, felt the brunt of the downturn in building and enterprise. But they, like the economy, are certainly picking up again.
The L200 has changed with the times. Back then the twin-cab had tight enough room in the rear cabin especially. Now there's more useable space. Which prompted me to ask: Is it a practical alternative for a combination of business and family/leisure? It might be but the tax regime is against that, I'd say. Motor tax is €333 if you're registered for VAT; otherwise it could cost nearly €900.
I think Mitsubishi see potential globally, though, because they are calling the latest version a 'Sport Utility Truck'.
We can't lose sight of the fact, though, that the L200's ability is all about getting people and gear to off-road and less accessible spots.
Yet, and I know this sounds strange when talking about a commercial proposition, an element of the old car that came in for a lot of criticism was how 'tame' it looked.
Yes, folks like their pickups to have real attitude - such as the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara and Ford Ranger rivals.
That's why this new one (the fifth generation), due in Ireland in August, is going to look a lot different out front. Side by side with the old one it has attitude alright, with a strong, strong grille.
It also has a new 2.4-litre, lighter, 181bhp diesel (manual and auto) that is quieter overall; maybe a bit gruff at lower revs but fine up the range. Emissions, at 173g/km, are down from 204g/km and drop to 189g/km from 225g/km on the auto.
Along with the 181hp, there is 430Nm of torque - a vital element for this sort of vehicle - at 2,500rpm. Fuel consumption has improved too.
The 'bed' or cargo area (at 1,520 mm) is 29.2pc of the overall length, and 15mm deeper (475 mm) so you can carry more. But it needs a proper way of locking the tailgate.
Despite being lighter, the vehicle's towing capacity is up to 3,100 kg
The cabin is much quieter, and noticeably so. They say that's a combination of the new engine and a lot of work blocking sound intrusion around the body.
And the cabin is roomier (+20mm longer and there's a 10mm rise in shoulder room). Again this was noticeable.
They claim the turning radius of 5.9m is best in class. Oil change has gone from 15,000km to 20,000km and coolant change intervals from 60,000km to 180,000km.
I drove it in on tarmac and up the foothills around Nice recently.
They have this Super Select 4WD (you can choose four driving modes) which I let automatically choose 2WD or 4WD on the road. Then we went into low-gear ratio for the hilly, off-road section. It wasn't the toughest course I've driven but it was realistic and the L200 took it easily in its stride.
It made light work of the terrain and had loads of torque. And plenty of pickup and pep on the high roads. There are trailer stability and Hill Start Assist systems.
New equipment includes: rear-view camera with touchscreen audio, remote audio controls on steering wheel, cruise control, auto air con, electric/folding door mirrors, front fogs, 17ins wheels etc.
There is a 5-year warranty and prices, they say, won't be far off the current VAT-inclusive €32,750 (manual) and €35,950 (automatic).
Good to see little change on that front.