Driven: Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
Should you be given a free choice of car for driving the best part of 2000 miles across Europe, the chances are you wouldn't opt for a huge, four-wheel drive pick-up truck. But our ride down to the Geneva motor show was no ordinary truck. Mitsubishi has revamped its L200 range and brought a top-of-the-range version named the Barbarian.
Sadly this means Mitsubishi has continued an odd naming policy that has also seen its trucks emblazoned with names such as 'Warrior', 'Animal' and, a personal favourite, 'Raging Bull'. But such are the proportions of the L200 it almost seems to do justice to its overtly macho name.
Getting in is very much a case of climbing up, so the foot plates are a welcome addition for anyone hoping to avoid scraping mud all over a trailing trouser leg. Shockingly, what was already a big vehicle has got even bigger thanks to this 2010 facelift – a whole seven inches have been added to the load bay.
This means any normal-sized human being will have to jump up on to the tail gate to reach their luggage, and that it served us very well when transporting a snowboard bag and skis down through France. Depending on what you might plan to use the L200 for, there are several options for the lining of the load bay. The most hard wearing is the metal lining, which would also be the most practical since it lends itself to being washed out with a hose after messy tasks. However, it could prove slippery and less forgiving to luggage than the carpet-lined option that comes with the hydraulic-powered load cover.
If carpet seems like something that doesn't belong in a hard-working truck, then driving the L200 should clear up some of the confusion. This is not a pure workhorse in the same way as a van or a Land Rover Defender is. It has firm, supportive seats, a strong road presence and is surprisingly well behaved at speed for a vehicle this size. Admittedly it feels more comfortable at lower speeds, and in four-wheel drive, but it doesn't feel like the agricultural vehicle it is styled as.
The Barbarian comes with a surprising amount of kit for a car that is just under £23,000. It offers cruise control, satellite navigation, air conditioning, four electric windows and leather upholstery. The best addition though, is a rear parking camera that makes parking this beast of a vehicle that bit less stressful, especially as the rear tailgate sticks out further than the back bumper.
Sadly the cheap price is reflected in the quality of some of the kit on offer. The cruise control has an annoying tendency to judder when tackling uphill climbs at motorway speeds, although it is fine on the flat and at lower speeds. This became irritating to the point it was switched off on our trip down to the show.
The other irritation was the satellite navigation system, which proved counter intuitive to use, and slow to display maps. Unfortunately, this is the system that Mitsubishi is planning to put in its new ASX crossover, but it could really do better with just a simple Tom Tom system. We found its Bluetooth connections were patchy, and there were just too many options to scroll through to get where we wanted.
As these elements are additions to the L200 that are largely exclusive to the Barbarian, it would be wrong to damn what is essentially a fine work horse as a result. However, we would be tempted to save the money spent on the higher-level trim and go for a cheaper Warrior, or 4life variant. You still get a butch name after all.