A reliable ride is something that stands the test of time. It takes a combination of good driving habits, properly inflated tires, sticking to a regular maintenance schedule, and sometimes sheer luck—you’re always many car-lengths away from bad drivers and out-of-control vehicles—to ensure that you max out the longevity of a vehicle. Of course, there are instances when the brand/model also factors into a vehicle’s longevity.
Take for example the Mitsubishi L300, a passenger/delivery van model that is still sold despite being in the market for almost four decades now. It was in 1983 when Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC), then known as Canlubang Automotive Resources Corp., introduced this passenger van based on the 1979 “Delica” (a portmanteau that blends the words, delivery and car) of Japan in order to compete with the Sarao jeepneys, Tamaraws (Toyota), Harabas (General Motors) and Fieras (Ford) that were popular passenger transport vehicles at the time.
The L300 was revolutionary. From family carriers, school buses, commuters, delivery vans, and ambulances just to name a few, the L300 was always atop the shopping list among all kinds of buyers, helping MMPC to reach many sales milestones throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. MMPC has now sold over 190,000 units of this iconic vehicle.
Last year, MMPC rolled out the 200,000th unit of L300 at its Santa Rosa, Laguna manufacturing plant.
Owner for 10 years
Among those who could attest to the L300’s reliability and longevity is Dr. Ronald Anthony Fernandez, a L300 Versa Van owner for 10 years. “I own a 1997 model of the Versa Van gasoline variant which we bought in 2011,” said the 51-year old dentist. “We didn’t plan to buy a van but my patient offered it to me at a very good price so we decided to acquire it because we needed the L300’s space for family outings.”
But even before the L300 was offered, he has always been on the lookout for a more versatile van for his family. “We were using the Mitsubishi Space Wagon at that time and my family outgrew the MPV.” Having another Mitsubishi for Dr. Fernandez is no longer surprising for the doctor: “My first impression about Mitsubishi was when I was 9-years old. My father bought a Celeste and me and my brothers fell in love with it! This is the reason I chose a Mitsubishi Lancer Box Type GSR when I bought my first car. And that is why we also have a Montero Sport now, because we believe that (Mitsubishi) has always been a car brand we can rely on!”
As a Mitsubishi brand loyalist, Dr. Fernandez has seen how the brand has progressed in providing its customers with vehicles that fit their lifestyles. “The thing I like the most about Mitsubishi is it always makes a vehicle that caters to the needs of the consumer. They bend edges to give us the best,” explained the father of two. And true enough, the Mitsubishi L300 has become a staple in the good dentist’s garage.
“My main considerations in choosing a vehicle are parts availability, reliability, price and comfort. I find that Mitsubishis are reliable workhorses. Until now, this fact is still very much proven by my 1997 L300 Versa Van,” added the doctor who has been motoring for 30 years.
He related that while the iconic L300 Versa Van has already been supplanted by the more utilitarian and updated EURO IV-compliant L300 Cab and Chassis, the nameplate’s iconic status remains to be its main appeal to buyers.
Everything that Dr. Fernandez appreciated from his trusty L300 van has been thoroughly upgraded in the current generation of the L300—a new 16-Valve 2.2-liter turbocharged diesel engine now sits under the driver’s seat. Producing 40 percent more torque than the early generation power plant at 200Nm, and more power at 98 horsepower, the new L300 is capable of carrying up to 1,215kg of people and cargo.
Moreover, the common rail diesel engine is now Euro 4 compliant.
The cab now sits higher, owing to the space needed to accommodate the new engine. The head unit is now updated and there is now dual air-conditioning as well as larger rear combination lamps.
In today’s configuration the L300 now benefits from more structural rigidity. And while its looks have not changed much over the decades, it’s phenomenal sales figures to this day is a testament to the enduring qualities of reliability and dependability that Mitsubishi has endowed it with.
In fact, even the executives from Japan headquarters believed MMPC may have another gem that it could bring to other markets in the ASEAN region. During last year’s ceremony to mark the 200,000th production unit of the L300, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (Japan) CEO Takao Kato announced that Mitsubishi is in the process of finalizing its plans to export L300 to other ASEAN countries, which will make MMPC the only automotive manufacturer in the Philippines to export vehicles. “We will work even harder to enhance MMPC plant’s competitiveness and quality, so that we can make L300 a trusted model in the ASEAN,” Kato assured.
Charles E. Buban is an old timer in the Philippine automotive journalism scene. He first started covering the automotive beat in 2003, writing news and reviews of new models and car tech, among other car-related stuff. When not writing about cars, he could often be seen riding his mountain bike or doing long walks in the hope of catching a couple of legendary Pokemons.