Pick up a Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian – it’s a workhorse and family car rolled into one

Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
Mitsubishi’s truck impressed on MPG

The tools of my trade are a laptop, pen and a notebook. And a brain jammed full of statistics, like the time the last Triumph Spitfire rolled off the line (August 1980) and whether a limited-slip differential is an option on a Porsche Cayman or not (it is).

A roofing contractor, on the other hand, has all sorts of gear including a great big pot to melt tar in. He needs a pick-up truck. I don’t.

But last week I had one – a new Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian. And now it’s gone, I miss it badly.

I used to own a 1972 Chevrolet El Camino I imported from California. It wasn’t very practical from a financial point of view because it had a 7.5-litre V8 under its bonnet that would do 17mpg on a good day. But it was useful for taking rubbish to the dump.

This L200 is the fifth generation of a model that’s been on sale in Britain for the last 30 years and is one of Mitsubishi’s bestselling products. The Barbarian is the top-of-the-range version and costs £23,799, plus VAT. Seems a bit steep until you look at its comprehensive equipment list that includes a DAB radio, an optional extra on a Porsche.

All L200s are powered by a new 2.4-litre diesel engine that produces 178bhp and returns an impressive 44.1mpg. That’s the ­mythical official test figure, but we got close to that on our test which isn’t bad going. Also standard is 4×4 which, on the top-spec versions, is the same Super Select active system (lower-spec models get the Easy Select system) that’s used on the Shogun SUV and automatically channels power to the wheels with the most grip. There’s a choice of five-speed automatic or six-speed manual which our test L200 had.

Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian

While the Barbarian feels like a pick-up to drive and not like a car with exceptional carrying capacity, it is sophisticated for what it is – workhorse during the week, family ­transport (thanks to the crew-cab layout) on the weekend.

The L200 has a capacity of 1,050kg and a maximum towing weight of 3,100kg. The load bed is 1,470mm but the wheel arches get in the way at the back so it’s not that simple.

Our car came fitted with the optional load covering hard top so I didn’t try putting a motorbike in the back which is what I’d use a pick-up for.

The new generation 5 L200 has a tailgate mechanism that prevents the gate falling down and cracking your kneecaps – and on the Barbarian it is soft opening so it’s even more gentle.

We didn’t try serious off-roading in the Mitsubishi, just a bit of mud and wet grass. I suspect that it’ll be impressive even over quite rough ground. On the road, the engine is noisy when you fire it up – but on the move, it’s impressively quiet. It’s only turning over at 1,500rpm at 70mph so you can barely hear it on the motorway. Hit a bump and you can feel the L200 shimmy and shake, but the ride is good by pick-up standards.

The interior is a bit plastic but more than plush enough for a vehicle that is likely to lead a hard life. There’s loads of rear head and legroom too, even for six footers. But the seats are set low so tall passengers will have to bunch their knees up a bit.

I picked up a friend from the airport in the Barbarian. Not as glamorous a lift as the Jaguar F-Type roadster that I also had last week, but unfortunately her suitcase wouldn’t go in the back of that.

Now I need to pick up some sacks of sand from Wickes, and I’ve only got my motorbike this week. Yup, I think I need to own another pick-up.