Every time a new 4x4 muscle truck version is launched, the name gets more outrageous. Ford has the Thunder, Isuzu has a new ‘Big Boy’ and Mitsubishi has the ‘Animal’ and ‘Raging Bull’.
In comparison, the L200 Walkinshaw on test here sounds more like a character from the Jennings and Darbishire novels of the 1950s (“Cripes, Walkinshaw,” said Jennings. “What a spiffing wheeze!”).
But whatever this model lacks in name charisma it makes up for it in the looks department. Take a look at the picture and you’ll see a truck that appears to have been injected with a large dose of testosterone.
During our test week we got more stares per mile than with all the other vehicles we’ve ever tested, apart from the loony tunes 8.5-litre V10 Dodge Ram we borrowed a couple of years back.
The Walkinshaw moniker comes from performance enhancement specialist firm Tom Walkinshaw Racing and this truck offers as extra over the ordinary model 20-inch ‘Equinox’ alloy wheels and tyres, leather seats and stickers, a power upgrade to 168bhp, DVD satellite navigation system with seven-inch screen, cruise control, a ‘Mitsubishi Power’ sound system (420 watts), Bluetooth connectivity and a stainless steel fuel filler cap, tailgate cover and door handle covers.
Our test model also had sports suspension and a snazzy twin exhaust system, which adds up to a price of £22,534 ex-VAT.
Behind the wheel
The Essex boys in my neck of the woods just love vehicles like this, so I spent my test week being gawped at, stared at and pointed at. And of course that is the essence of this truck – it may be a pukka off-roader, but who in their right mind would take it into the mud, getting those fabulous low profile alloys dirty?
From a business point of view, it’s a different matter.
Having a high-profile vehicle like this on the fleet, with a few company decals on the side, could be worth its weight in gold.
The cab of the L200 is as stylish as its exterior, leather seats emblazoned with the Walkinshaw logo and the dash and doors are a mass of silver and black, with the dials and knobs picked out in blue.
The seats look good and had plenty of side support but I didn’t find them particularly comfortable and ended up with a nasty case of numb-bum syndrome after about 80 miles. To be fair, the L200 was never built for long distance motorway driving so maybe I’m being too picky.
The old L200 was well-known for shaking fillings loose, such was its rock hard suspension. The new one is better, as long as you are on smooth main roads, but get on to the bumpier highways and byways and things can still get a little unpleasant. Sports suspension is all very good, but maybe would be appreciated only by younger people. I’d rather have a bit more comfort at my age!
I didn’t take this test vehicle off-road but I remember the launch of the L200 in Sardinia back in 2006 and all the models we tested in the rough were well capable of handling everything thrown at them.
And there’s no shortage of power from the 2.5-litre turbodiesel unit. There’s bags of torque on offer right down at 2,000rpm and it transforms itself into some very lively road manners that will please the most sporting driver.
The L200 Walkinshaw is something of a paradox – a 4x4 vehicle built to withstand extreme vigours but with such a shiny coat and trimmings that no-one would dare take it off-road.
But as a vehicle for displaying a company’s logos and prowess – and for pleasing its drivers – the L200 reigns supreme in the sector.