You don’t expect sunshine on a British Bank Holiday, right? Lashing it down here in the Cotswolds, forcing a man to open a bottle and watch an old episode of Top Gear (back when they looked like they were enjoying themselves).
Richard Hammond driving an F-Type Coupe R against JC in a BMW M4 proved interesting. Despite a massive advantage in horsepower, the Jaguar was stuffed by the M4’s superior handling.
These days, cars are so fast that I’m starting to subscribe to the philosophy that it’s not how fast a car goes, more how it goes when travelling fast.
We have the M4 coming soon to Car Couture in September but at present, I’d still opt for the Jaguar. Like the convertible on test this week, it looks way prettier and offers more drama than anything from the German stable.
Well, apart from the i8, which is really just a masterclass in technology rather than a true supercar…
The all-wheel drive F-Type R has been claiming all the publicity so far this year but the mid-range, supercharged S is still an eye-catching car. You have to know your F-Types to spot the difference – the best clue is the fact the S has only two tailpipes instead of four.
Our S is hardly tail happy but I can see the attraction of permanent all-wheel drive. It would make an exceptional responsive sports car even better, if that’s possible. The classic lines of the F-Type are still there – the back end is sculpted like a stylish violin.
The Jaguar goes head-to-head with the more expensive Porsche 911 Cabriolet and the ‘softer’ Mercedes SL. It’s prettier than both for my money but after just a day of living with the F-Type, I can tell you it’s more fun than the Merc but a less capable all-rounder than the 911.
And I say that with a heavy heart, having owned an E-Type in the past, I would love the Jaguar to stuff it to the Porsche. It doesn’t. But it does have great heart, style and passion, which will be more than enough for many people.
Last day with the L200. This latest model is the fifth incarnation and, as you might expect, it’s far and away the best. The interior may feel a little dated but the new common-rail turbodiesel is a huge step forward in terms of refinement.
Despite a sound thrashing over the last seven days, the Mitsubishi is still returning around 36mpg too – it’s capable of 43mpg. And if anything goes wrong, the Barbarian comes with a five-year/62,000-mile warranty.
Main gripes include the rather naff styling, which is bordering on OTT, while the L200 still leans into corners if at any time you forget that it’s essentially a working machine and not a five-seat people-mover. It’s a bit of a bone-shaker over rough surfaces too.
To sum up, if you need a proper workhorse for your lifestyle or business AND need a comfortable cabin for the family afterwards, the L200 is a great alternative to more expensive SUVs.
You might question whether you need the bling of the Barbarian though…
It was so damn cold last night we had to light a fire. The rain fell heavily and a partially filled the load space at the back of the L200 double cab – making for a comical, if wet, exit from the farm this morning.
days like this remind me why people buy 4x4s. I should qualify that – people who live in the countryside. Sitting water that would terrify a sports car driver caused the Mitsubishi no problem at all.
And there’s no doubt the L200 has enough ground clearance. In fact, my only complaint would be that the side steps don’t actually stick out enough to give me feet enough purchase to get in.
OK, I may have big feet but try it and you’ll see what I mean…!
I’m just back from Cardiff where I have been interviewing Welsh rugby captain, Sam Warburton. Appropriately, he got his first captaincy for Wales against the Barbarians in 2011.
I can’t really see Sam in L200 Barbarian – he actually drives a Range Rover Sport. However, like the big fella, the Mitsubishi is virtually unstoppable in the muddy rough stuff.
I had a brief chance to take it off-road yesterday too and the L200 really comes into its own. It may wallow and lean on the tarmac but in the dirt it’s quite sensational. I’ll hose the mud off the bling before it goes back.
Today’s only complaint is that the whole passenger seats vibrates when the L200 goes over rough ground. Not what you’d expect from a £25k vehicle…
I think it’s meant to look cool but when I blip the keyfob of the L200 Barbarian at night time, the interior lights up fluorescent blue. Now my white, rufty-tufty four-wheel drive looks a fridge with the door open.
It’s called mood lighting in modern automotive speak and it’s probably one of those features we don’t really need in a car. It goes hand in hand with acoustic exhaust systems that recreate the sound of the exhaust using the hi-fi system.
I used to think the same about heated steering wheels but have now succumbed to their charms. You will never have to wear string-backed driving gloves again.
But the crazy blue interior lighting in the L200? Well, I think it’s one step too far for a pick-up truck, however bling it wants to be…
Beautiful, sunny Saturday in the Cotswolds. The farm is buzzing with activity and the rumble of a Land Rover is never far away. Not for much longer though – the Defender is no more.
So what will replace it? Well, nothing can really but for the ‘Glossy possy’ in Gloucestershire have transferred their affections to Mitsubishi instead.
This has been aided by the fact that the UK arm of the company is based in Cirencester. Waitrose is packed with Shoguns and Outlanders.
And because the L200 has huge, go-anywhere capability, as well as old school 4×4 charm, it’s perfect for towing their horse boxes and shooting gear.
However, I fear the Barbarian we have on test this week is just a little too bling for Pippa and her pony. The mood lighting and leather won’t last long on a ‘shire’ hunting trip.
So, with that in mind, if you are in the market for a serious off-roader, save yourself some money and go for the basic, entry-level L200. It will do everything you need on the farm…
If you want a luxurious SUV that’s refined and elegant, then the Barbarian (as the name suggests!) may not be the car for you. Unlike traditional SUVs, this one is built on the same framework as an industrial machine and it only takes a while behind the wheel to spot the shortcomings.
The L200 wallows on corners, nosedives under hard braking and the styling results in a fair amount of wind noise too. You can’t expect to drive a vehicle with a one ton payload AND enjoy the comforts of a Mazda CX-5, or a Nissan Qashqai.
Perhaps because the L200 was one of the first double cabs that made the leap to passenger vehicle, it does offer plenty to tempt buyers. A rash of airbags, the infotainment system and excellent seats are among the highlights.
I think the question many people will have to overcome first is ‘has the double cab concept had it’s day’? To me they always feel dated and ponderous. At least the Mitsubishi does have a dash of style to go with it and plenty of road presence…
Mitsubishi has been making double cabs for donkeys years. The L200 is one of the best on the market and the company has shifted 4.1 million globally over the last six decades.
However, the double cab really took off about 15 years ago when somebody higher up the food chain decided it would make a cool lifestyle vehicle too. You know, add some leather, chrome and an infotainment system and you have a muscle-bound four-seater with rock hard credentials.
And this latest Series 5 Barbarian model is just about the ultimate in ‘lifestyle’. Some might say it’s completely over the top but anybody who steps up into the cab for the first time will quickly realise it’s a class above any 4×4 pick-up Mitsubishi has ever built before.
I doubt many Barbarians will go further off-road than parking on the pavement but underneath all the gloss, it is a ‘proper’ working vehicle too. I’m not sure about all the luxury trim but I must admit I have a soft-spot for the L200 and look forward to the week ahead…
So, here’s the thing. I have an Aston Martin Vantage S V12 parked outside Car Couture Towers – with the Bentley GT Speed next to it. Which one would you choose?
I love the passion, drama and craziness of the Aston. It’s obviously lighter, more agile and exhilarating than the Bentley, which is such a large amount of metal, it’s best experienced in a straight line. And wow, does it shift.
But the Aston is beautifully flawed, thanks to the latest Speedshift auto gearbox. Aston would tell you that it is more ‘driver focussed’ – ie designed to be at its best at speed. But quite frankly, it sucks.
There’s such a lag as it flicks up a gear that you are physically pushed forward through each cog of the seven-speed box. It’s uncomfortable and tiresome.
This doesn’t happen rivals supercars, which usually have a double clutch system and are super smooth. The Bentley change is seamless, as is the Porsche 911, Audi R8 etc
So, while I would always choose the Vantage over the big, bad Bentley (heart rules over head), it could be so, so better…
- Car Couture is off to Switzerland for the annual hols – we’re back from the grand tour on August 21