Your choice of car is a mobile statement to the world about how you see yourself and how you wish to be seen.
And if the image you want to project to the world is that of a strong, rugged, practical, no-nonsense and do-anything sort of person, then a pick-up truck is the perfect car for you. Got a fridge to move? Chuck it in the back. Going skiing? Throw your gear in the flat-bed and get the heating on. Traffic jam? Stick it in four-wheel-drive and take things off road.
So far our test has mostly consisted of bouncing around supermarket car parks and driving back and forth to the local recycling centre in preparation for Christmas, but at the wheel of our latest long-term test car the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian, Scotsman Motors projected Chuck Norris as Lone Wolf McQuade, Texas Ranger on a mission to rid the loft of old board games and suitcases full of phone chargers.
Many L200s will be sold to commercial buyers, the rear storage and four-wheel-drive making it perfect for tradesmen and industrial fleets that need small van-like load- lugging capacity coupled with off-road ability. The double-cab set-up and SUV-like comfort levels mean that the Barbarian can also double-up as a normal car as well – making it a practical all-round choice.
The Barbarian may live up to its namesake in terms of looks, but it’s actually very civilised to drive. The 178bhp 2.4-litre diesel is a little noisy and the gearbox in our six-speed manual version feels a tad industrial and can stick when shifting, but it’s gutsy when you need it to be — 0-60 in a shade over ten seconds — and remarkably car-like in its handling.
The quoted combined miles per gallon figure of 42.8 is certainly achievable, but this will depend very much on your style of driving. During month one of our test Scotsman Motors returned average figures in the high 30s, after a false start in week one when we were still getting to grips with things.
Speaking of grip, the L200 has it in spades. There are three four-wheel drive modes as well as a rear-wheel drive option available via an electronic selector that allows you to change drive-mode at anything up to 62 mph. 2WD — for tarmac roads in good weather conditions according to the manual — might not get much use from the average Scotland-based buyer, but the three other options — 4WD High, 4WD Low and 4WD High with Center Differential Lock — should cover most situations short of a toboggan run.
You feel like king of the road thanks to the high driving position and the imposing, broad bonnet and chunky wing mirrors framing your view from inside of the cabin. We wouldn’t fancy parking the L200 without the rear-facing reversing camera and parking sensors but those, and also the heated leather seats, mood lighting and a modern touch-screen interface bring a bit of civilisation to proceedings.
The cabin is spacious enough in the back to comfortably sit two full-grown passengers, but unless you want your bottle of Texas bourbon rattling about in the flatbed at the rear, you’re going to need to get used to tucking any bags from your quick trip to Tesco Metro around the passenger area.
The load bed to the rear of the truck is 1470mm long and 1470mm wide which, while slightly shorter than that in many competitors, is a sizable storage area that is deeper and longer than that in the the outgoing double-cab model.
In terms of payload, the L200 can accommodate 1,050kg of cargo and tow up to 3.1 tonnes, so the Barbarian can prove a sturdy workhorse. By utilising the L200’s full towing capacity Mitsubishi claim a best-in-class combined payload capability of 4,090kg.
Our test car is fitted with a third-party retractable roll-top cover which reduced the storage capacity due to its size when retracted and rendered four of the six anchor points inaccessible — so while we have so far managed to take advantage of the truck to transport a Christmas tree and empty the loft and garden shed of their contents, the two-seater sofa proved more of a logistical challenge.
For an extra £1293 Mitsubishi will fit a GST Plus hardtop which matches the storage compartment height to that of the cabin, providing a watertight covering without compromising storage capacity.
To maximise the potential of the L200 that would be the first accessory on our spec sheet.