Since the taxman decided to classify double-cab pickups as vans and gave them a nice, juicy tax relief over swanky company cars, the average farm load lugger has morphed into something of a yuppie’s weekend plaything.
There have been no fewer than five pickups launched so far this year, with the brashest among them offering every conceivable extra from heated leather seats to DVD players.
However, if you delve a little deeper into most companies’ line-ups there are still several work-friendly versions that come with fewer gizmos and less to go wrong, and in Mitsubishi’s case it’s the 4Life version of the time-proven L200.
Outside, the first thing you notice is its pure size. Bulging tinwork balloons well over the chassis and gives the L200 a certain sense of power.
The aggressively shaped grille adds to the bravado, though much of the flashy chrome styling from higher spec models has made way for workaday black plastic that looks just the ticket for no-nonsense farm work.
Clamber into the driver’s seat and the design is a little more subdued. Wipe-down doors are perfect for less houseproud owners, while the chunky switchgear seems a better match for a working tool.
That said, chrome touches around the centre console provide a smattering of refinement and take the 4Life version a notch above the Great Wall in dress sense terms, at least.
Leg-room is surprisingly abundant, too. The cab space in this latest L200 model has been extended which means that, unlike the double-cabs of old, you don’t have to be a contortionist to get in and out.
On the road
There’s no doubt that this is a comfortable car on the road. The hushed tones of the diesel block drift into the cab, but quiet conversation is still possible even at high speeds.
Cruise control and a six-speed gearbox mean it’s good for a longer trek too, though expect it to drink at least 30mpg in the process.
- Road comfort
- Off-road capability
- Good spec level
- Turning circle
- Turbo lag
- Bulky exterior
It can also be fairly brisk off the mark, although the 151hp-tuned engine tends to suffer from a spot of turbo-lag.
Low-revved work can feel like a real chore, but it’s a completely different story once the turbo gets its act together.
There’s a good chance that the bigger 178hp model will deliver a little more spriteliness in that department.
On a 70-mile trip with a fully-loaded tri-axle livestock trailer it coped well, though there was a natural sink in consumption to just below 20mpg.
At the final destination, reversing was a doddle too, as the truck comes equipped with big mirrors provide and a top drawer turning circle that makes manoeuvring far easier.
In the field
The 4Life version rolled up on skinny 16in rims and road tyres that look slightly out of place on such a heavy-framed truck. But, despite our reservations, it was fantastic off road and grip was near-faultless.
On the fly switching from two to four-wheel-drive makes regular moves between off-road and tarmac a trifle easier, while hill assist also comes as standard and engages the anchors to help pull off from an uphill start.
Further back, the load bay is plenty big enough but the sides are high and can make the loading process a real workout.
The pickup market is currently awash with new models, but finding a balance of price and performance is sure to strike a chord with those shopping for a working tool.
The 4Life model can’t quite match the Great Wall when it comes to price, but the compromise comes from a few extra gadgets and a long history in the market.
A good turning circle and sound off-road performance will also appeal, so it’s definitely worth a look when you come to upgrade.
|Mitsubishi L200 Series 5 4life||VW Amarok||Isuzu D-max||Nissan Navara NP300 Visia||Toyota HiLux Active||Great Wall Steed S|