Before diving into the L200’s driving characteristics, it’s important to remember the vehicle’s utilitarian purpose. This pick-up can carry a tonne of cargo in its load bay and tow three more tonnes behind it, and can grapple over challenging off-road terrain thanks to its four-wheel-drive system. Its primitive yet sturdy chassis construction is well suited to these tasks, but does bring compromises when travelling without a payload.
The main symptom of this is a lively rear end, particularly in the 4Life models that come with heavy-duty rear suspension. Catch a bump, ridge or pothole with either rear wheel and the whole car shakes and shimmies vigorously, which is most noticeable on our broken urban streets - especially over speed bumps - and on our countryside’s uneven single carriageways. While far from supple, the Nissan Navara and VW Amarok are smoother-riding options. On a decent motorway, however, the L200 settles down nicely and makes a very easy companion, with only wind noise from the door mirrors and load bay the cause for complaint.
In other regards, the L200 offers a respectable driving experience. Its steering is responsive yet relaxed and nicely weighted, the pick-up holding its line on even bumpy B-roads. The standard-fit six-speed manual gearbox has a good, positive action, and the 2.4-litre engine pulls well from low revs and without excessive noise, though the 151bhp version is a fair bit slower to 62mph, taking 12.2sec against the 178bhp model’s 10.4sec (the automatic 178bhp takes 11.8sec).
With the help of ABS and a firm push of the middle pedal, the brakes are effective, while low range and a short first gear supplement the four-wheel drive to make short work of off-road ascents and descents.
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