Plenty of vehicles vie for the title of king of the road, but for sheer presence the Mitsubishi L200 is up there with the best of them.

Slip behind the leather-trimmed steering wheel and you are treated to a high driving position that allows you to look down on Range Rovers.

But while Range Rover owners will be looking for out-and-out luxury, the buyer of a one-tonne pickup is likely to be a far more pragmatic person, as interested in value and cost per month as in quality and excellence.

And it is the combination of sheer rugged versatility and value for money with a touch of real class that has made the L200 a worldwide success since its launch in 1978.

Available in single, club and double cab body styles, with prices starting from about £19,500, the L200 has a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes and a payload of up to 1,060kg.

Opt for a top-specification model, like the Barbarian driven here and in addition to a willing 4x4 workhorse you are treated to all the benefits of a top specification sports utility vehicle.

On the test car that meant large, comfortable full leather seats for five occupants and equipment including dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, electrically-operated windows and rain-sensing wipers..

More luxury touches include cruise control and a touchscreen- and voice-controlled infotainment system, which links with most smartphones to allow the driver to make and receive calls, access text messages, listen to music and use the phone’s satellite navigation systems for the most up-to-date mapping and traffic information.

The dashboard display also integrates the vehicle’s reversing camera to help when parking and when hitching up a trailer.

Power comes from a 2.4-litre turbodiesel engine whose 178 horsepower combines the perky acceleration and the necessary grunt to shift heavy loads with surprisingly quiet and relaxed long-distance cruising even at motorway speeds.

The sheer comfort of travel in the L200 is a genuine eye-opener for passengers who were expecting something much less refined when seeing the vehicle for the first time.

The L200 was given a boost last year when extra strengthening was added to key load-bearing areas of the chassis allowing its towing capacity to be raised to 3.5 tonnes with three-axle braked trailers.

With more tyres in contact with the road, three-axle trailers offer improved straight line stability compared to two-axle trailers, while braking ability and weight distribution are also enhanced, as is low-speed manoeuvrability and controllability in the event of a tyre blowout.

Mitsubishi says a towing capacity of up to 3.1 tonnes is also possible with one- or two-axle braked trailers and a towing capacity of 0.75 tonnes is possible regardless of the number of axles or whether or not the trailer is braked.

Since making its debut, more than 4.7 million L200s have been sold worldwide and a new model will be launched in Europe in the autumn, following its debut in November last year in Thailand where the L200 is produced.

The new version will come with a restyled front end, a four-wheel-drive system aimed at delivering improved off-road performance and the latest in active safety and driver assistance, including a system which can detect vehicles and pedestrians ahead; blind spot warning which helps when changing lanes by detecting vehicles behind or at the rear quarter and alerting the driver with an audible alert and flashing light in their door mirror; rear cross traffic alert which helps avoid collisions when reversing and a monitor which provides a bird’s eye view image of the area around the vehicle.

Mitsubishi says eventually it will be sold in 150 countries.

Auto facts

Model: Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian Double Cab Hard Top

Price: £38,229

Insurance group: 10E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 37.7mpg

Top speed: 110mph

Length: 528.5cm/207.5in

Width: 181.5cm/71.3in

Load length: 152cm/59.7in

Load width: 147cm/57.7in

Load height: 47.5cm/18.6 in

Fuel tank capacity: 16.5 gallons/75 litres

CO2 emissions: 196 g/km

Warranty: Five years/ 62,500 miles