I have been looking forward to driving the Fleet News long term L200 ever since it arrived here – much to the amazement of my male colleagues who seem to think that mere girls don't drive cars like this – and it hasn't disappointed me.
I admit it is unlikely I would choose an L200 as a company car and let's face it I'm not likely to ever make the career change to become a builder or landscape gardener. But if I were to, then the 4Life would take a lot of beating.
I have enjoyed driving it immensely, which perhaps has something to do with what my colleague Trevor Gelken quite rightly quoted in his first test report in August – that the L200 can turn a seven stone weakling into Charles Atlas in three seconds! I feel positively brutish behind the wheel.
He also claimed the L200 was a man's vehicle but I have to disagree with him on that score.
I would be quite happy driving it on a long term basis, although a second vehicle would be handy for the odd shopping trip as I don't think the L200's turning circle would go down well in a multi-storey car park. It seems to be rather akin to the QE2 at parking time.
As well as being entertaining to drive, even on a two-hour motorway journey, the L200 is an excellent company car tax proposition with a flat rate of £500 a year for the time being, working out at just £110 a year for a 22% taxpayer – that's got to be a bonus in anyone's book. And it has solid residual value predictions of £6,275/37% over three years/60,000 miles.
It may not be the fastest vehicle on the road but then you wouldn't expect it from what is essentially a commercial vehicle with a few car-like refinements thrown in. The only downsides I have encountered are the lack of air conditioning, tight legroom in the back of the double cab and the odd parking problem (although I suspect this could be overcome with lots of practice).
I would also dispose of the £1,400 ex-VAT optional Fullbox cover.
Surely the whole idea of having a vehicle like this is that you can cram loads of gear in the back.
The Fullbox only opens a foot or two, so all that loadspace is wasted if you have large items to lug around. But what is even more crazy is that with the Fullbox locked, you can still open the tailgate, so it is impossible to secure anything in the rear. One of the most amusing aspects of driving the 4Life has been watching the hordes of men admiring it.
You should see their faces when they catch a glimpse of little ol' me peering over the bonnet – it's a picture. The beast is being returned to its rightful owner soon and I will be sorry to see it go.
Company car tax bill 2002 (22% taxpayer): £110 pa