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Driven: Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X. Image by Mitsubishi UK.

Driven: Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X
Perhaps the last new Mitsubishi we’ll ever drive, unless we emigrate. What’s the Series 6 L200 like?


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Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: striking looks, decent cabin, strong performance considering downsized engine, impressive unladen ride quality for a truck

Not so good: it's not cheap to buy in this spec, and you'll need to move fast if you want one; Mitsubishi, as a seller of vehicles, is leaving the UK for good

Key Facts

Model tested: Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X Double Cab Auto
Price: L200 range from £21,750 exc. VAT; Barbarian X from £32,530 exc. VAT, as tested with options and VAT £42,125.98
Engine: 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: six-speed automatic, Super Select all-wheel drive system with low-ratio transfer 'box
Body style: four-door one-tonne pick-up truck
CO2 emissions: 206g/km (VED Band 191-225: £1,345 in year one, then £490 per annum years two-six of ownership, then £155 annually thereafter; or £275 per annum if registered as a Light Goods Vehicle TC39)
Combined economy: 29.1mpg
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 13.5 seconds
Power: 150hp at 3,500rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750-2,250rpm
Loadbed and towing: maximum payload 1,075kg, maximum towing capacity 3,500kg braked trailer

Our view:

As the great debacle over Mitsubishi's on-again, off-again, no-it's-back-on-again-really-it-is relationship with Europe rumbles on, it's becoming increasingly clear that the Japanese company's UK arm is going to transition to an aftersales-only operation in 2021. That's a tragedy, not least for all the people who work in Mitsubishi UK - and we're hopeful they are safely employed elsewhere in the wake of the marque's devastating decision.

But it's also sad that an intriguing company - which, admittedly, has never been among the mainstream elite, even amongst its compatriot manufacturers - is nevertheless departing the car-sales scene for good over here. However, it's not a surprising decision. As the Mitsubishi UK range bows out, it's a collection of odd relics, duffers that are plainly not up to snuff, and then one or two half-decent models. Among these, the Outlander PHEV and this L200 are the standouts, but the rest of it? The ASX? The Shogun Sport? The Eclipse Cross or, heaven forfend, the Mirage?! Dear dear.

A painful sign of how much Mitsubishi had lost its way in recent years and ended up with such a confused, muddled and ageing product portfolio was provided when watching the UK arm of the business having to auction off its heritage fleet, due to the impending change in the operation. And among the lots of some wonderful machines on offer, including a Starion and a 3000GT, the sensational Lancer Evo VI Tommi Mäkinen Edition was up for grabs. Which eventually went for six figures, in the end. What a machine. What a dream car. What a way to go from that legend, built only 21 years ago, to total oblivion in the UK.

Which makes the drive of this Series 6 L200 all the more poignant. It's almost certainly the last new Mitsubishi we'll ever drive and it's also clearly the strongest product in the company's portfolio by some distance. Touted as an all-new model, it is in essence a heavily revised version of the Series 5 L200. Which is no bad thing, as that was a decent one-tonne pick-up truck throughout its life.

The timing of the carmaker's departure couldn't be worse, either, because this Series 6 would have had the market almost to itself if Mitsubishi could've just held on a bit longer. Apart from the three main rivals we list at the bottom of this piece and the SsangYong Musso, all the other pick-ups in this sector have, for one reason or another, departed the action themselves. All of the Nissan Navara, the Volkswagen Amarok and the Fiat Fullback, itself based on an L200, are out; either on a hiatus or not destined to return at all. And the ill-fated Mercedes X-Class experiment foundered on the rocks of people not being able to see past the fact it was a tarted-up NP300 Navara, only with a notably inflated price tag. That, though, is a crying shame in our opinion, as it meant the much-underappreciated X 350 d had to be killed off in the process. And that, aside from Ford's outrageous Raptor, is our favourite pick-up truck of them all.

Anyway, we're getting lost ourselves in maudlin introspection here. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Mitsubishi's decision, it's done now and this L200 will be the legacy the company leaves in most people's minds, as it's arguably the model buyers in the UK will be most familiar with aside from the Outlander PHEV. So is it a shame the L200's departing too, or is it simply a case of 'good riddance'?

Well, it's definitely not the latter, although we can't bring ourselves, even being as generous as we can in the difficult circumstances, to say the one-tonne pick-up market is losing the class leader here. First of all, the L200 has been surreptitiously downsized in the propulsion unit department, at a time when all its rivals (bar Isuzu) have realised that private buyers in this sector want the most luxurious trim and the most powerful engine going. So the fact the L200 has gone from the Series 5's 178hp/430Nm 2.4-litre motor to a 150hp/400Nm 2.3 turbodiesel seems a particularly odd move, although one clearly driven by emissions.

Having said that, even with that four-cylinder motor driving all wheels through a six-speed gearbox, this L200 didn't feel appreciably slower or underpowered compared to its predecessor. In fact, we weren't even aware the Mitsu truck had lost power until we looked at its spec sheet, halfway through the week we were testing it. It's a fine, cultured mill in the Barbarian X, which keeps itself quiet unless absolutely revved right out, and the 400Nm of midrange muscle ensures it is suitably rapid once it is up and rolling. It's not a bad automatic, either, although the lever and gate you operate it with in the cabin looks like it's from about 1994.

Anyway, as a top-ranking Barbarian X, the L200 definitely has the fully loaded kit-list thing sorted. Front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree camera system, a heated steering wheel, excellent leather seats (they look great and are wonderfully comfortable to sit in), an infotainment system with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability (it doesn't set any high bars otherwise, though, considering its graphics and response rates), LED exterior lights, ambient interior lighting, 18-inch alloys, climate control... it's a nice place to spend some time, the cab of an L200 Barbarian X. Even if both the Ford Ranger and, weirdly, the Isuzu D-Max have superior passenger compartments again.

Get the Mitsu moving and the driving experience is solid on the L200. It doesn't totally eradicate that hop, skip and jump an unladen truck will often demonstrate, because it still has leaf springs at the rear. But it's pretty comfortable and refined overall, with good limitation of wind noise and surprisingly low levels of tyre roar. The steering's also reasonably precise and well weighted, rather than being slow and obdurate, and so placing the Mitsubishi accurately on the road is no effort whatsoever. This makes it more relaxing to drive long distances, whereupon it can turn in some of the best economy we've seen from these big trucks; they all claim around 30mpg but we tend to find they hover more around the 25-26mpg once you've driven them a few hundred miles to get a clearer idea on the average consumption. Well, the L200 Barbarian X covered 260 miles at 28.9mpg, with a best of 33.7mpg on a long motorway run. Proof positive that switching from the 2.4 to the 2.3 wasn't such a bad decision after all.

We also think it looks excellent on the outside. That bold and daring front-end treatment is particularly eye-catching, and with a set of graphics and the snazzy Sunflare Orange Pearlescent (£515 excluding VAT) paint, it's a handsome-looking beast without being overly showy. A retractable tonneau cover and set of stainless-steel sport styling bars would complete the look to a tee, although bear in mind that option's £1,849.99 excluding VAT. So around £2,220 with the tax added on; ditto a bed liner (£209.99 exc. VAT, £252 inc. VAT), which is why our test vehicle rocked in at a meaty £42,126 if purchased as a non-commercial vehicle. Which it almost certainly will be if you're looking at a Barbarian X, which isn't exactly the sort of pick-up you see axle-deep in clag at a quarry. So it's not a cheap vehicle, then.

But overall, the L200 continues to be a smoothly polished truck all round. It's decent inside, it looks sharp outside, it drives well and it doesn't feel too gutless, even if it's by no means the fastest truck on the market. It's also expensive in this spec and just a few too many details of its cabin are a tad sub-par, and of course there's the whole issue of what Mitsubishi's future looks like beyond 2021. So we think, to a degree, that while we and plenty of others will miss the L200 once it has gone, by the same token it won't leave the biggest, gaping hole in our lives - and it's more for the loss of the entire marque, and of course the people affected by the decision, that we have to finish on a sadder note when reviewing this pick-up truck.


Ford Ranger: nearing the end of its life in this format but Ford is migrating all models to the 2.0-litre biturbo-diesel engine from the deranged Raptor, plus there are various special models like the Thunder, Stormtrak and Wolftrak to go at. Great cabin, nice engine, smooth manners - it's a strong all-rounder, even in its dotage.

Isuzu D-Max: an all-new D-Max has arrived and it's very, very good in almost all departments, especially interior finishing, which feels better than the L200's cabin if we're honest. However, that wheezy 1.9-litre engine in the Isuzu needs putting out to pasture, and fast.

Toyota Hilux: massively improved by the addition of a 2.8-litre engine, the Hilux quietly continues as a one-tonne pick-up of considerable merit. It's not exactly cheap itself, though, especially as an Invincible X, and its interior is no better than the Mitsubishi's.

Matt Robinson - 30 Oct 2020    - Mitsubishi road tests
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- L200 images

2020 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X. Image by Mitsubishi UK.2020 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X. Image by Mitsubishi UK.2020 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X. Image by Mitsubishi UK.2020 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X. Image by Mitsubishi UK.2020 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X. Image by Mitsubishi UK.

2020 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X. Image by Mitsubishi UK.2020 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X. Image by Mitsubishi UK.2020 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X. Image by Mitsubishi UK.2020 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X. Image by Mitsubishi UK.2020 Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian X. Image by Mitsubishi UK.


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