A pretty unique occasion to be let loose on a rally stage at the wheel of not a rally car, but a pick up, the vehicle in question the new Mitsubishi L200 Series 6. Adjacent to the Scottish Knockhill circuit is a short, but thoroughly entertaining, rally stage which proved perfect to hang out the tail of this new pick up.
Normally the association with a pick up is agricultural or for business but let’s not forget such a vehicle can be the ideal leisure vehicle at the weekend.
So why did Mitsubishi let a group of motoring journalists loose on a rally stage? Quite simple- to prove the good handling and ride qualities of their latest entry into the world of pick ups.
Sure, there have been race classes for pick ups, not sure when it comes to rallying. My instructor, himself a racing driver, did put in a few really fast laps as he recalled the exploits of one Tommy Byrne!
Not to allow the rally stage all the glory, Knockhill has an excellent off road course and this proved ideal to show just how capable the newcomer is when the going gets tough and I must add this part of the exercise was carried out on standard road tyres. The L200 has grown to be one of the reliable pick ups on the market and now the Series 6 is available, bringing new standards to this area of the market. In its forty year history Mitsubishi have continually updated this extremely popular pick up. Allied to the fresh new look, a major feature is the new 2268cc turbo diesel engine with AdBlue which is not only efficient but clean with the added bonus when it comers to lowering fuel costs, and the AdBlue tank has a twenty one litre capacity. Along with the new new engine customers can specify a six speed manual or the option of a six speed automatic transmission, complete with paddle shift.
For me I observed the more car-like feel which I have found missing in many pick ups.On or off road the ride has been improved and handling is better thanks to the employment of a stiffer chassis, new springs and dampers.
Also, it comes with the best turning circle in class and I got the decided feel I was driving a well appointed car or SUV and not a pick up; clearly this new model from Mitsubishi will appeal to a wider audience.
Of course in the agricultural world and indeed with those in small business will appreciate the versatility that it delivers. Since the L200 first appeared back in 1978 more than 4.7 million have been sold, making it one of the most successful vehicles of its type. Mitsubishi have used all of the experience gained in this sector to deliver a very complete package with the new Series 6.
Versatility is a key factor for most regardless of the type of vehicle and Mitsubishi clearly had this very much in mind with the new L200. The payload has been increased to 1,080kg and a gross train weight of 6,155kg.When the going gets tough the upgraded four wheel drive system comes into play with a new off road mode and a hill descent control system.
As already noted, my off road test was driving with standard road tyres and the performance in fairly difficult conditions was nothing short of being impressive. Most models in the range feature larger brakes for enhanced stopping capability and I must emphasise in no small terms the car-like drive qualities which I experienced first hand- these will be appreciated by all who take ownership of this newcomer. Safety is paramount with a large number of features, blind spot warning system, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, forward collision mitigation, ultrasonic misacceleration mitigation and trailer stability.
Many features which you would usually find on a luxury saloon are the key elements which will appeal to a lot of buyers. When it comes to styling, again Mitsubishi have delivered with a bold front end with the ‘Dynamic Shield’ identity. Chunky wheel arches, new side steps deliver maximum on road presence, this new Double Cab does stand out from its many competitors. The 40mm raised bonnet not only assists in the styling department but aids maneuvering. The interior, unsurprisingly, is well appointed with added comfort such as improved seating with better bolstering and heated (and chunkier) steering wheel.
With a number of derivatives, lower running costs and the renowned Mitsubishi reliability this is a winning pick up.
I really doubt if many will ever venture on to a rally stage, but should the opportunity arise take it from me, a giant helping of fun awaits.