IT WAS named as the ‘Pick-up of the Year’ by Scottish motoring journalists this year – but just how good is the new Mitsubishi L200, which (it’s hard to believe!) is now on to Series 6.

Principally, the main change that committed L200 owners – and there are a lot of them – in the UK will notice is a bolder, more angular design. When set against the more rounded curves of the outgoing series, it appeared that it was back to basics for the design team.

Pick-ups, after all, are mainly about work. While many find their way into little housing estates, too, the bulk of sales remain with farmers, builders and rural workers.

Believe it or not, the Mitsubishi L200s have been around for ages, doing the donkey work in Europe for almost 40 years. It has sold 4.7m of them worldwide and it held the top position in the UK sales league for such vehicles for some years, before being knocked off its perch by Ford’s Ranger truck, which does offer a choice of engines and some pretty neat styling across a range of spec’ sheets.

This looks like Mitsubishi’s attempt to regain some ground on the Ranger and this new L200 should do just that. And, it is important to its business, as almost a third of all Mitsubishi sales in the UK lie with the L200.

It looks tougher from the outside than the more rounded outlook of the previous model, yet inside it has also gained ground by being more car-like and with driving characteristics to match. In amongst the styling, there’s also the clever use of LED lighting and an impressively huge front bumper.

Highlights of the redesigned rear, include new light clusters with LED tail lamps (on Warrior model upwards) and a new tailgate with a damper and tailgate assist on the Barbarian models. A new, more substantial rear bumper offers better protection and a much larger area for stepping on, whilst still offering the same 22-degree departure angle as its predecessor.

Like Ford, Mitsubishi now offers a bewildering range of styles to buy in to, from the utilitarian £21,515, plus VAT, 4Life club cab (there is no single cab available) right up to the range-topping Barbarian X (£32,200 plus VAT) and in between there’s various Warriors and Barbarians to choose from.

From a working point of view, the latest four-wheel drive system offers four new off road 4 X 4 modes, there’s a payload of up to 1080kg (+35kg against the old model) and a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes, depending on the model. It can also carry up to 625kg when towing that top trailer weight.

There’s a lusty new 2.3-litre diesel engine – now with the ubiquitous AdBlue (it has up to 12k between fills for that) – and its mated to either a six-speed manual, or a pretty useful six-speed automatic transmission.

No longer is it deemed ‘unseemly’ to have an automatic in a 4 x 4 pick-up – with all the modern technology available, an auto system is just as good as a manual for plugging away in the mud.

The new Super Select 4WD-II system has four drive options, 2H, 4H, 4H with a locked centre differential and 4LLc low-ratio (also with a locked diff) which works alongside the in-built traction and stability control systems to give the L200 some pretty decent on and off-road capability.

Engine power is rated at 150hp – which is on the low side given the competition – but it’s designed to produce most of its oomph low down in the rev range, so it doesn’t feel that much different from other machines. Peak torque is 400Nm, which is produced 500rpm lower down the rev range than the Series 5.

The stats for the ‘combined-cycle’ fuel efficiency figures for the new L200s are 32.1mpg for the manual version and 29.1mpg for the auto – which are figures that are easily achievable according to my test drive.

The more car-like interior features a chunky steering wheel and much improved seating with better materials and in view of the driver there’s a new full colour LCD display which is used to operate many of the in-cab and road-going features.

Whilst the new engine is the biggest mechanical change, there’s also major changes to the bits that you don’t see.

A stronger chassis and new springs and dampers all round, means that the L200 is a pretty good drive. That’s helped by beefing up the leaf springs on the rear suspension and as is usual with pick-ups, it drives much better with a couple of hundredweight in the load area – and it handles its full payload with ease. There’s more stopping power, too, from two-piston brake callipers.

The Barbarian X model has four cameras located in the front, rear and in the door mirrors monitor the area around the vehicle and generate a bird’s eye view to highlight any hidden obstacles.

The in-dash display also shows the front camera view when the vehicle is in forward gears/drive and the rear camera view when in reverse.

What Mitsubishi calls Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM), on the Warrior models and above, uses camera and laser radar systems to detect a vehicle or pedestrian ahead. When the system determines there is risk of a collision, it sounds an audible alert and, if the driver doesn’t response, activates the brakes.

There’s also a heap of technology using microwave radar for detecting vehicles approaching the pick-up’s blind spots and also highlight when vehicles are approaching from the rear quarter.

Safety features standard across the range include the Emergency Brake Assist, Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), Active Stability Control (ASC), Traction Control (TCL), Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Trailer Stability Assist (TSA).

Driver aids include keyless entry and start, cruise control, a trip computer, rain-sensing wipers, auto lights including high beam and electric heated/folding door mirrors.