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WHEN one vehicle is responsible for a substantial part of its earnings, a carmaker has to mind the model.

That is especially the case if it is a pick-up which, in this part of the world anyway, is a marginal segment for most automakers.

It’s not marginal for Mitsubishi, who have been making one-tonne pick-ups since 1978.

The L200, their second-biggest seller globally, is designed for work in some of the toughest environments.

Mining sites in Indonesia and Chile are just two among 150 markets where the L200 operates daily in the harshest of conditions.

So driving on gravel roads into the high mountains of southern Spain recently wasn’t exactly going to have the sixth generation L200 break into the pick-up equivalent of a sweat.

Still, it was a drive where I appreciated having a sure-footed and competent off-road vehicle under me.

And it has just, technically, gone on display for sampling in Ireland.

Dealers have only recently received their demonstration models. Prices start from €35,000 for the entry Business grade.

The best-selling L200 here is expected to be the Intense grade, priced at €37,850 (manual) and at €39,950 for the new six-speed automatic.

A new Instyle grade tops the range. It includes leather seat trim and other extras at €41,935.

With a new engine, a broad array of driver assist technologies and a completely new styling they hope to return the L200 to the top-three position in pick-up sales here.

General spec includes a “bird’s eye” monitor camera system, LED headlights, enhanced ‘Superselect’ AWD and 18-inch alloys.

Changes include new headlamps which are designed for better night visibility.

There are more substantial bumpers, but good approach and departure angles of the fifth generation model are retained.

The new pick-up is 40mm taller and marginally longer than the previous L200.

It is claimed to have the best turning circle in the class as well as the best cabin space.

It is powered by the new 150hp 2.2-litre diesel. The Superselect AWD has four settings for different terrains. An optional electromagnetic rear differential lock is available on all grades.

Increased spring rates and larger shock absorbers on the front suspension make it more comfortable to drive. The leaf-spring rear suspension has been retained to provide better cargo capacity, but now has an extra sixth leaf.

Inside, there’s a more integrated set-up of controls and instruments with more colourful graphics.

There’s extensive use of soft-touch materials while the seats have larger side bolsters.

And there is more storage while four USB sockets are standard.

Overall, the L200 is a big advance on the fifth generation and will put Mitsubishi strongly back in contention for more sales in this highly-competitive segment.

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