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Mitsubishi L200 Warrior

Test venues: Lake District, Shropshire and Mid-Wales

Mitsubishi has been campaigning an L200 Pick-Up in this year's FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. Portugal's Carlos Sousa is leading the 2003 FIA World Drivers' Championship. Variants of the new road-going version of the L200 have been selling well in the UK this year.

The 4x4 commercial sector has become a fashionable and thriving niche in the market place in recent years, with Mitsubishi's L200 pitted against the Nissan Pick-Up and Isuzu TF Pick-Up range.

The Mitsubishi has been the best selling of the trio since a new 4Work range was introduced at the end of last year. The Japanese manufacturer now commands a 40% share of the UK's entire Pick-Up market.

According to Mitsubishi's Sales and Marketing Director Lance Bradley, Mitsubishi sells eight-times more commercial vehicles in the UK than it did three years ago, this no doubt helped by a tax advantage which enables businesses to reclaim 17.5% VAT off the purchase price of a new vehicle.

The L200 Warrior Double Cab 4WD I tested is therefore available to a commercial business or even a sole proprietor for a mere 16,999 (19,940 normal OTR price), with prices starting from as little as 10,299 for the L200 2.5 TD 2WD.

The base L200 2.5 TD was voted as 'Best Pick-Up' in 2002 by both What Van? and Commercial Fleet magazines. The model range fits into insurance groups 13 and 14 and owners benefit still further from revised and extended 9000-mile service intervals and LGV vehicle excise duty bands.

Behind the wheel the Warrior Double Cab is spacious and the seating position is comfortable. The driving seat is easily adjustable and there is plenty of front leg and head room for a tall passenger, although rear leg room is limited and the thoroughly choppy ride makes it virtually unbearable for a rear seat passenger on a long journey.

The L200 is fitted with the somewhat dated rigid leaf-spring rear suspension and independent wishbone front suspension. On long journeys the rigid nature of the rear suspension becomes annoying to say the least for a driver and even more off-putting for a front passenger. Driving on twisty and bumpy roads around Lake Windermere in the middle of a summer heatwave is not ideal in an L200, either with the air conditioning working well or all four windows down.

This aside, the car performs well in motorway driving conditions, albeit with a fair amount of wind noise around the door seals, and can comfortably hold its own for long periods at cruising speeds. Accelerate hard and fuel consumption drops significantly, but it is fairly economical in an urban environment and you can readily see 26 mpg.

The dashboard is legible and controls are simple to understand, although the drinks holders are positioned above the radio/cassette recorder and completely obscure the radio controls when used to hold a bottle of water, for example.

There are several useful storage sleeves and crannies, albeit rather small, and the open rear section is ideal for commercial use. An engine immobiliser, twin air bags, rear cross members and side impact door bars are standard fit and power steering is standard on the Warrior.

My test model was powered by a torquey, 2.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine, with power transmitted to the rear wheels by a five-speed manual, long-throw transmission. The gear change was slick and precise, although the L200 suffers from a rather poor turning circle and limited rear visibility when reversing or parking in a restricted space. The Warrior has a payload of 1085 kgs and easy-to-use 4H and 4L transmission options.

There are 18 variants of the L200 available in the UK, from Single Cab derivatives to Double Cabs, with all models powered by the four-cylinder diesel engine. There are also other limited editions such as 4Life and Animal.

The base 4Work Single Cab delivers 88 bhp and is capable of a maximum speed of 91 mph. My four-wheel drive Warrior test version produces 113 bhp and will reach 94 mph, although it does start to feel uneasy at speeds in excess of 85 mph.

I actually prefer the L200 to its two main rivals in the category - both of which I tested last year - but there are still several improvements that could be made to this category best-seller.

These would make it more user-friendly for everyday domestic use, rather than just as a reliable workhorse for a small commercial business or as a runaround for the rural farming community.


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