By Philip Hedderman
With a cabinet full of awards including What Van? Pick Up of the Year a record 13 times, the hulking Mitsubishi L200 hardly needed improving.
Its bulletproof 4X4 credentials were unquestionable so exactly how were the MMC engineers going to make his monster better?
The answer lay with its equally successful siblings – namely the Pajero, Outlander and Shogun.
Yes, like the L200 they’re all legendary off-roaders and unlike many of its pretenders, you won’t see them hogging the parent and baby parking spaces in your local Tesco.
No sir, these are no-nonsense, in-your-face, all wheel drive man machines.
They do manly things like building skyscrapers, blow them up and rebuild ‘em again.
And you won’t see the fearsome four outside a sushi bar either – not when there is a greasy spoon around the corner.
Now, that cycle of work hard, play hard has changed somewhat and as we get older, so do our needs.
This was stumbled upon with the emergence of the Double Cab which overnight began to coax hard-hat wearing foremen out of their traditional white panel vans.
It needed to be all things to all men.
Not only should it be capable of tackling mud-drenched sites on a daily basis, it also should be presentable enough to double up as a proper second family car.
It was exactly that and Mitsubishi it seemed, accidentally hit the jackpot.
So much so that in theUKalone, one third of all this type of vehicles sold is an L200 and it proved mega successful her inIrelandtoo.
The reason is simple – or three - versatility, comfort and drive.
First the versatility or its ability to lug virtually anything, any size to anywhere.
The new model has just got bigger too increasing the rear bed by 18cms and the cargo area is also higher and squarer giving even greater capacity.
Thanks to its traditional leaf spring suspension you could literally take a baby rhino up the side of a cliff for a spot of mountaineering.
Generating that kind of power is the hulking 2.5 litre diesel which has been tweaked to give 27pc more torque and 31pc more grunt.
In layman’s terms the 178bhp unit is now capable of towing 2.7 tonnes with a payload of over a tonne.
Super Select 4WD system also means that you can adapt to the driving conditions with a choice of 2WD, full-time 4WD and a locked 4WD package.
It’s more economical too with emissions reduced while fuel economy is up 12pc which sees a return of 37mpg while annual road tax is just €310.
We clocked up almost 800kms in all terrain including the most unexpected of all - motorways – and it proved me wrong.
Cruising at 120kph, I almost expected to drain the tank in one journey, but to my surprise the L200 performed as well as a 1.8 petrol saloon.
Comfort comes in the guise of its ability to carry five on-board (including little ‘uns as there are child locks on the rear doors) and comes with standard kit like Bluetooth, cruise control, air con, heated electric mirrors and leather multi-function steering wheel.
And then there is the drive which is the most car-like of all pick-ups.
In ordinary 2WD one forgets instantly that you are driving a three tonne truck and the light steering means that even the tightest of U-turns are manageable.
Manoeuvrability is its secret weapon with the smallest turning circle in its class getting this gargantuan bus to do a three-point turn in a bout five – unprecedented for something the size of a small country.
Braking is pretty similar to a car and the traction control irons out any little indiscretions should you be a little too heavy with the right foot.
That said, you must remember that first and foremost, this is a working vehicle that has been tweaked and fiddled with to make it more amenable.
The engine has quite a roar to it in lower gears and when travelling light the ride is quite bouncy.
But all of that comes with the territory unless you’re looking to blow 60 grand on a BMW X5.
In the week we spent together she only came unstuck once – in an underground car park where the arse of the 15 foot body half blocked the entrance and reversing her out tested your mirror skills to the limit.
A reversing camera or parking sensors would sort that out.
If that doesn’t work just dynamite the place and simply drive over the rubble
Prices for the L200 start at €32,742 including VAT.