One of lifeís great mysteries is the due date for Land Roverís reborn Defender. Like Brexit, the fine detail is as slippery as a farmerís track. And in the meanwhile, Mitsubishi salesmen sleep easy, knowing thereís little to knock this beast off course when it comes to go-anywhere ability at a fair price.
Ironically, Iíve been thinking about the Defender, or at least the defunct one, rather a lot this month, because the L200, in a retro kind of way, has been reminding me of it. Farmerís Elbow was a condition recognised as inevitable in rustic circles, thanks to Land Roverís slight oversight of building a cabin within which the driver could fit all of his limbs. Maybe the designers saw this as agricultural surplus and, maybe, when heading over the hills to check your sheep, it mattered little, it being perpetually 1958. But now itís 2017 and even Land Rover knows they need to plan a cabin within which everyone fits, even with the windows shut.
Iím not sure you can say that about our Mitsu. Outings of the nuclear element of the family have been reminding me of those Record Breaker stunts: 28 people in a Mini, I think, was the official recordÖ Well, hereís a new challenge: fit two kids, with their child seats, one wife and one driver in the L200, add a handbag, coats, gaming tabletsÖ and donít forget the space for anything you might want to carry home. I think the appropriate word is snug, as in anyone seen the gear selector, or, if you kick my back once more, Iím bailing out. Mounting claustrophobia has thus blunted our ability to enjoy the gobsmacking vistas from every seat, the serene ride on the open road (the M5 to Gloucester) and the beefy tones of the multi-speakered stereo. Gradually, inevitably, Iíve begun to think of this vehicle as a coupÈ with a six-foot spoiler. Mitsusquishy sums it up.
A call to the manufacturer, in the end, was inevitable: can we spec a little lebensraum, please? Mitsubishi is happy to help: our pickup will soon sport some form of kit that enables us to use the vast tail section for storage (as standard, the car comes with its business end open and therefore vulnerable to casual thieves). Weíve not yet settled on the option of a roll-top cover (£1,038) or a full-on hard top (£1,358), which a la South African bakki, promises to transform your ute into a veritable super-estate. Either way, the change is a must-have, unless you wish to live like a stressed sardine.
Problem thereby sorted, I will be able to focus back on the positives. Despite needing one and a half small-car slots, the L200 is nimble to manoeuvre; it has a standard of fit and finish that matches most family saloons; that auto gearbox, once youíve moved the handbag, is smooth and lump-free. With all family baggage rendered less emotional, the road ahead looks promising.
Date arrived 13th January 2017
Fuel economy 37.7mpg (combined) 31.5mpg (on test)
The auto box selector makes light work of a long day behind the wheel.
Cabin fever: limited storage space spells a pressing need for secure rear stowage.