Tattoed barbarian

Road test: Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Black

Reactions to some vehicles are quite polarised – and the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Black is in this camp. What is it? It’s a large double-cab pick-up in top trim level with most of the shiny bits replaced with matt black and some bold graphics tattooed on its flanks. The Black limited edition has only just gone on sale earlier this month.

It’s easy to see why this genre of vehicle is popular – it provides transport for family or crew, combined with sensible load-lugging capability. Of course, there are compromises; the ladder chassis/rear leaf spring configuration make for a cruder ride than your usual soft-roader but it seems more settled on the road than Ford’s latest Ranger – and it is certainly more enjoyable to drive.

Steering is under-geared compared to most cars but the commanding driving position and ample torque make progress easy. The clutch is light so even heavy traffic isn’t too much of a chore. Gear lever action isn’t particularly slick but selection is easy. Most of the controls are conventional and straight-forward to use, the exception being the Kenwood touch-screen multi-media interface which has tiny text on its few buttons, is not the most intuitive and is sometimes slow to react. One switch which is completely invisible from the driver’s seat (found only by accident, beneath the central console) is for opening the rear-facing electric window.

With the turbo spinning, the 2.5 DI-D litre engine pulls well – performance might almost be described as spritely. Below 1,800 rpm though, it’s a bit flat and while it does eventually press on, this low end is critical for load-carrying and trailer-towing. It happily gobbles up motorway miles and handling is competent for its size.

What the L200 does (regardless of trim level) is deliver capability – it is an excellent work-horse. The payload for the longer wheel-base double-cab is 1050kg and maximum towing capacity for a braked trailer is 2700kg. The load bed is flat and has minimal wheel-arch intrusions; the drop-tail is strong enough for loading/climbing-on.

The biggest debates around the desirability centre on the level of trim and those bold decals. The leather seats should be easier to clean than cloth and some of the added niceties on this model like the electric folding mirrors, sat-nav and so-on just make a driver’s life that bit easier. A rear-facing camera certainly helps when manoeuvring the 5185mm length into parking bays. The large lettering isn’t everyone’s cup of Earl Grey and the dark alloys are rather dour but we like the rest of the matt black finishes as an alternative to showy chromed parts.

Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Black 4WD, £23,899 + VAT.

Power: 175 bhp (4,000 rpm), torque: 400Nm (2,000 rpm), emissions: 208 g/km CO2 (band K), 0-62 mph: 12.1 secs.

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