The Outlander PHEV has been a massive success story for Japanese brand Mitsubishi in recent years.
It’s a repeated best-seller in the hybrid market and has been credited with turning the firm’s fortunes around in the UK.
But alongside this alternatively-fuelled newcomer and the recently launched Eclipse Cross, Mitsubishi has continued to produce one of its most recognisable and successful vehicles – the L200 pick-up.
Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian
Price: £29,030 (excl VAT)
Engine: 2.4-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Transmission: Five-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
Top speed: 109mph
CO2 emissions: 196g/km
At the start of this year, nearly one in three pick-ups sold in the UK was an L200 and the brand saw a near doubling of sales compared to last January, accelerating far ahead of the market.
While some of those sales were basic utilitarian single cabs destined for unforgiving lives on farms and building sites, the majority were the high-end models aimed at buyers looking for a shared work/family vehicle or a versatile lifestyle model.
Near the top of the range and appealing to that sort of buyer is the Barbarian, which alone accounted for 52 per cent of all L200 sales last year.
It’s a double cab, so you can fit a family of four in while retaining a decent load bed, comes with selectable four-wheel-drive, an automatic gearbox and equipment levels to match mid-range SUVs.
Keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, leather seats, 17-inch alloys, central touchscreen, auto lights and wipers and chrome detailing around the exterior are all standard on the Barbarian trim, which starts at £29,030 before VAT.
The main screen houses a basic infotainment system. It’s basic because, after years of making truly awful ones, Mitsubishi have rightly decided that most people will just plug in their phone and use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay anyway.
For buyers who need it to be a workhorse as well as family transport the L200 will carry up to a tonne of material in the 1.52m x 1.47m load bed and can towed a braked trailer of up to 3.5 tonnes.
So the Barbarian can still meet the basic utilitarian requirements of the cheaper models. And for all its bells and whistles, the L200’s utilitarian roots are still obvious in places.
The interior feels built to last with only a passing consideration for styling. The use of some silver colour trim and gloss black plastic feels like a half-hearted attempt to dress things up but rivals such as the SsangYong Musso do a better job of recreating a more car/SUV-like feel.
Under the bonnet is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder diesel producing 179bhp and a hefty 317lb/ft. It’s a bit rough and ready but you’re aware that there’s a tonne of usable torque there all the time, ready to drag the truck or anything else up the road
In our test car it was linked to an five-speed auto transmission which is perfectly smooth, and far preferable to the clunky six-speed manual we tested in the related Shogun Sport.
Even in a high-end “consumer” spec like the Barbarian the L200 isn’t as good at masking its utility vehicle roots as some rivals but it still works well enough as a dual-purpose vehicle for those not convinced by the current sea of SUVs.