Sixty years of Mitsubishi pickup heritage
Whilst the 'civilian' usage of pickups is fairly recent in Europe, L200´s customers will benefit from the decades of expertise Mitsubishi Motors enjoyed when it started the development of their new pickup truck.
Indeed, it is the success of modest vehicles like the 1946 Mizushima - a rudimentary small three wheel 0.4-ton truck developed by the Mizushima Motor Vehicle Works - or even more clearly, the 1959 Leo - the first Mitsubishi to wear today´s triangle-shaped front grille - that eventually laid the foundation for Mitsubishi´s successful entry into the passenger car market.
Distant cousins like the tough 2-ton Jupiter Juniors also helped building Mitsubishi pickup trucks´ reputation until the arrival first in 1967 of the 0.6-ton Colt Pickup and finally, of the first 1-tonne L200 in 1978.
Nearly 30 years and 3 generations later, the Mitsubishi L200 remains one of the most popular pickups outside of the US, where its newly launched mid-size sibling - the US-only 2006 Raider - will meet the specific demands of the American customers.
A European take
Rich with such experience and market leadership - especially in Europe - Mitsubishi Motors engineers and designers took the view that the 4th generation L200 shall fit real-life market environment even better, whilst taking the passion one step further.
In other words, European pickup drivers may dream about the American wide open spaces so often associated with pickups, but fall for a more compact, technologically more sophisticated and more user-friendly truck, all combined with the ruggedness and feeling of adventure of Mitsubishi Motors´ unparalleled Dakar experience.
With the European pickup market foreseen to remain stable over the next years (110,000 units in 2004 / 0.7% to 120,000 units in 2010) but generating high revenues for their manufacturers, what is a lifestyle choice for customers has turned into a strategic choice for manufacturers*. More so for Mitsubishi Motors Europe whose L200 accounted for 16.4% of its CY 2004 sales and nearly 18% of its 2004 FY revenue.
* Essentially Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan and Toyota
L200 belongs to the line of authentic 4x4s that established the Mitsubishi Motors name in Europe. It is no surprise then that it owes much of its design inspiration to the most stunning of all, the 2002 Pajero Evo 2+2 concept / Pajero Evolution racer.
Typical of Mitsubishi Motors design strategy, this approach already gave birth to New Colt (from the 2001 CZ2 concept), to Grandis (from both the 2001 CZ3 Tarmac and Space Liner concepts) or to 'i' (from the 2003 'i' concept), as it will lead to an all-new 2007 C-segment sedan (from the 2005 Concept-Sportback).
Highly acclaimed both at motor shows and in the desert, Pajero Evo remains a powerfully, coherent and honest design statement. As such, it provides the new L200 with a long-lasting and genuine identity, true to its roots and devoid of any design trick.
L200´s nearly identical sharp lines, Mitsubishi 'Mount Fuji' grille and firm stance remains clearly visible, but adapted to production, regulations and real-life driving conditions. Such is the reason for a more rounded edge of the bonnet in order to provide L200´s driver with an unobstructed view of the road. It also contributes to L200´s lowest Cd in its segment (0.46 to 0.51 according to versions, vs. 0.58 for the current L200) for lower fuel consumption and lower wind noise level.
With 30% of current L200 owners mentioning design as their first reason for purchase, MMC designers also approached the pickup concept with fresh eyes. Even more than with the outgoing truck, they turned the bed into a bold styling feature, fully integrated in the overall design theme - instead of a mere box - through a dramatic body/bed split line, matching the curved window line.
Whilst L200´s dimensions (500 cm x 180 cm for Double Cab) are well suited to a European environment (narrower roads, crowded cities, tight parking), Mitsubishi Motors´ new truck will prove a comfortable place to sit in for its occupants with for instance, the longest cabin length of the segment (215,3 cm / Double Cab for instance). Consistent with this approach, L200´s drivers will appreciate, amongst other:
- the 5.9 m class-leading turning circle,
- the fast panoramic windshield positioned away from the instrument panel, for a more relaxing cab forward-like driving position,
- the good all-around visibility provided by this windshield and by a low beltline,
- the no non-sense transfer case lever (with shift-on-the-fly capabilities), as opposed to the currently fashionable rotating switch.
Passengers will also benefit from L200´s architecture with car-like accommodation for the rear seat (25° backrest angle on the Double Cab, etc,...) and unique features (retractable rear power window, etc,..). They will also appreciate the piece of mind offered by its 4-star Euro-NCAP design.
On the move, the new L200 will also add a high level of active safety to the one-tonne pickup equation, with:
- Active stability & traction control systems* with ABS,
- Pajero**-like full-time 'Super Select' 4-wheel drive system*, a feature unique in this segment, which allows the driver to drive in 4wheel drive in all circumstances w/o being confronted with excessive wear.
- New double A-arm independent front suspension with coil springs, for better on/off road stability.
In parallel, the new L200 will offer a more powerful - and now with Direct injection and Common Rail technologies - 2.5 Diesel engine:
- With 100kW / 136 ps @ 4,000 rpm, 314 Nm @ 2,000 rpm and a competitive 13.8kg/ps weight/power ratio*** it will offer a level of performance right at the heart of the segment****.
- It will also be the only Euro-4 compliant Diesel engine in its class, either mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox or to an electronically controlled 4-speed gearbox.
- Its target fuel consumption is set to be the lowest in the segment,
- Lastly, its service interval is now every 20,000 km.
* Availability according to grade and market.
** Shogun in the UK / Montero in Spain
*** All data subject to final homologation
**** Toyota HiLux: 102 ps / Nissan Navarra: 174 ps
A dual purpose vehicle by definition, Mitsubishi Motors´ new L200 does continue the tradition established since the first L200 in 1978, that of a well designed AND tough vehicle for both work and leisure activities, on-road and off-road:
- Choice of Single Cab (unique in the segment), Club Cab and Double Cab,
- Competitive bed length (respectively: 222 cm, 181 cm and 132 cm) within the compact exterior dimensions / best interior length proportions set in the original product brief,
- 1-tonne payload capacity*,
- 2.7 tons of towing capacity,
* Data according to markets
- Totally redesigned hydro-formed frame for maximum rigidity,
- Tough rear solid axle with multi-stage leaf springs to ensure maximum loading capacity,
- Euro palette fits in bed of all three cab types,
- Double walled galvanized cargo bed,
- Tailgate can be lowered 180 degrees (according to variant)
- Load Sensing Proportioning Valve (LSPV) for secure braking,
- 12 year anti-corrosion
Built in Thailand - where all 1-tonne Mitsubishi pickup trucks are produced for world markets by Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) Co., Ltd - the all-new Mitsubishi L200 will be one of the 7 new vehicles to be launched by MMC in Europe over the next 3 years.
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