Fleet News

Mitsubishi L200 4Life – 2,834 miles



EVERY two weeks, the testers at Fleet News indulge in a grand car swapping ceremony, so that everyone gets a turn to drive each vehicle on the fleet. That way, on the odd occasion, you'll see editor Jonathan Manning arriving at Fleet Towers in a Vauxhall Corsa while reporter Steve Moody rolls up in a big flashy Lexus.

But owing to a glut of summer holidays and other reasons too boring to mention here, the big swap hasn't happened for a while. So a month after writing my last road test on the Mitsubishi L200 4Life, I find its keys still in my possession.

Not that I mind, you understand. I've grown to like this car – The Beast as I've nicknamed it – and I'm now fully accustomed to being stared at by jealous males wherever I go.

Far be it from me to play Sid the Sexist, but the Mitsubishi 4Life is very much a man's vehicle. My partner drove it a couple of miles and swore blind she'd never get behind its wheel again. But my son, who has just passed his test at 21, is just itching to get his hands on it and swears he is going to start saving up for such a truck.

It is one of those vehicles that demands attention wherever it goes and invariably gets it. My next door neighbour, who owns a Land Rover Defender V8, is green with envy; my partner's son, who owns a Citroen Xsara, offered me his right arm in return for a job at Fleet News. It's crazy I know, but red-blooded males all seem to go weak at the knees over the 4Life.

Meanwhile, the truck has now had its first taste of real work. I had hit the odd kerb or two to jostle past a car turning right at a T-junction but I wouldn't exactly call that heavy duty.

Last week, a friend was moving house and had a couple of tons of ornamental patio slabs that he wanted to take with him. This would be a bit more of a test. Mitsubishi will no doubt be pleased to learn that the 4Life passed with flying colours. My partner and I stacked the truck up to the top of the load area and set off for my friend's new house, hardly noticing there was any extra weight aboard.

Cornering was as chunky as ever, the brakes as sharp as a pin and with the rear load area lined with stainless steel, the slabs didn't even damage the vehicle. Two trips and the job was done.

My only complaint was that the top box (a £1,400 ex-VAT extra) didn't open wide enough. I had to push the first couple of lines of slabs in with a broom and then clamber inside sideways to retrieve them at the other end. The box looks good, but isn't frightfully versatile.

Mention must also be made of the electric windows. The nearside rear one doesn't come back up when you wind it all the way down but instead rises about three inches and then goes up and down incessantly when you have your finger on the button in the 'up' position.

The only way to get it to work is to stop, get out of the vehicle and pull it up by hand. Also the driver's side window has developed an annoying squeak. It's one of those problems that isn't serious enough to get fixed immediately. I just can't afford to lose the vehicle for a day at present, so the windows will just have to wait until the 4Life's first service.

This hiccup apart, I would be quite happy to keep the 4Life for its whole six-month stay at Fleet News. Others, however, may have different ideas.

Company car tax bill 2002 (22% tax-payer): £9.20 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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