By Wayne Gorrett
The Mitsubishi Shogun remains an extraordinary capable brown-roader and family carrier, but the Grand Duke of Off-roaders has been showing its age in most critically competitive areas for some time.
🙂 Comfortable, decent passenger and luggage space.
🙂 Tough 3.2-litre diesel, reliable and unstoppable as ever.
😦 Blancmange-like driving dynamics.
While the Shogun has served its Mitsubishi masters well over the decades, there’s a much-needed new model on the horizon, but more on that later…
It’s probably best to be honest at the outset. With its step-up, grab-handled entrance to the cockpit, the Mitsubishi Shogun is my kind of car – big, bold, in-your-face. A guilty pleasure, if you like.
Back when big family off-roaders were simply referred to as ‘big 4x4s’ or ‘bubble-cruisers’ because of their balloon-like tyres, and long before SUVs were even a glint in the marketers eye, the Shogun enjoyed a significant slice of the 4×4 pie. There wasn’t a lot of choice at the time, with Shoguns, Patrols and Land Cruisers being sensible alternatives for those seeking hardy, rugged but comfortable family-movers, but without the silly-money price tag of the all-conquering Range Rover.
But, times changed.
Environmental and financial considerations altered the shape of the 4×4 market to the point where large, thirsty, ozone-depleting 4x4s have been pushed to the fringe, to be replaced by the ubiquitous SUV – or worse, the ‘crossover’.
Thirty-four years on from its launch at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1981, the Shogun still has its place but is now a rapidly diminishing niche product, more suited to ‘Rural UK plc’ than urban locales. It received a multitude of upgrades in 2006, before the latest, largely cosmetic changes were introduced two years ago.
➤ The Style Factory
Cosmetic upgrades introduced to the Shogun two years ago included slight styling tweaks and little else at first glance.
The Shogun displays an imposing, chunky and almost regal ruggedness in design. The spare wheel is mounted on the swing-door tailgate where it should be and there are plastic mouldings around the bottom of the car to complete its visual appeal.
Boxy and block-like it may be, but even after all these years, there is little else that carries as much on-road gravitas as the Mitsubishi Shogun.
➤ The Inside Story
As expected in a vehicle with such longevity, the cabin feels built to last, is comfortable and a relaxing environment in which to spend some time. However, it does show its age in places – the very unbecoming dot-matrix calculator-like display above the infotainment unit and the HVAC controls being two immediately noticeable issues. Equipment levels are very good with the SG4 version tested here receiving cruise and climate control, heated and leather seats, satnav and sunroof.
There’s ample room for five and sometimes seven, as there is a third-row ‘Fold2Hide’ seating system as standard, which fold into the floor in five-door long-wheelbase versions. While quite clever they, along with the two oar-like headrests, are a bit of a faff and other more modern seven seaters do ‘third-rows’ better. With that third row and accompanying headrests in place, you will whisper a silent but grateful prayer for the presence of the rear-view camera.
In five-seat mode, the boot is a very generous 663 litres. Fold row two though and a huge van-like 1,790 litres becomes available. Conversely, with all rows in place, there’s barely enough room for a daily shop top-up with only 215 litres at your disposal.
➤ Engines and Transmissions
There is only one engine available across the entire LWB or SWB Shogun range and that’s the 3.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel, which delivers 197bhp at 3,800 rpm and 441Nm of torque from a lowly 2,000 rpm.
Those figures look good and when floored it has plenty of grunt to make swift progress as 0-62mph arrives in a respectable 11.1 seconds (10.5 seconds for the manual) – no mean feat considering its kerb weight of 2,380kg which, incidentally, is more than a Rolls-Royce Wraith with a full tank.
However, it is a bit of a lethargic lump under normal driving conditions and spends most of its time feeling laboured and slow to respond.
While still chatty, the diesel is more refined than its predecessor and emissions have been cut to 224g/km. In addition, the engine has been tweaked for Euro6 compliance, the new rules for which come into effect from 1st September 2015.
It’s quite a thirsty beast, too. Over the course of 319 test miles, it returned an average of just 24.8 mpg, at one point peaked at 28.2 mpg. The official (combined) mpg is 33.2.
Transmission choices are a five-speed manual or conventional five-speed automatic.
➤ Safety First
Although it hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, Mitsubishi are claiming a four star rating for the Shogun.
In addition to the safety and security of the four-wheel drive system, ABS stability control, tyre pressure monitoring system and electronic brake force distribution (EBD) are standard in every model and there are six airbags (front, side and curtain). Seating rows two and three have ISO-Fix child seat mountings.
➤ On-Road Cred
On the road, it feels a tad cumbersome but its straight-line ride is reasonable – as long as you’re not in a hurry. Getting anything that remotely resembles a blur from the passing scenery will require a very heavy right foot – with the resultant fuel and NVH penalties.
While the blancmange effect is still evident due largely to its sheer size and weight, there is slightly less roll, float and yaw than before. Its towing capacity remains impressive at an un-braked 750kg, or a brake-assisted 3,500kg.
However, it’s the Shogun’s 4×4 credentials that form the foundation of its reputation and that’s where its strengths reside.
➤ Off-Road Cred
Thirty years of clinically-engineered, off-road pedigree reinforce that reputation. There are four driving modes – normal, every-day rear wheel drive, full time four-wheel drive, four-wheel drive with a locking centre diff and low-range gearing for more challenging off-road conditions.
The strong and seemingly indestructible 3.2-litre turbo-diesel engine produces plenty of torque and is perfectly suited to off-roading, making tasks like hill climbing, getting out of the mud and towing all a bit of a breeze, thanks to its low-range power delivery.
➤ ICE and Connectivity
‘Are we nearly there yet?’
If your kids love watching telly or gaming, they’ll love this top-of-the-range Mitsubishi Shogun.
The Japanese manufacturers have not only fitted a dual-screen rear-seat DVD system but also a built-in gaming package which boasts a pair of wireless controllers and quite a few family-type games.
Thankfully, there were also two pairs of wireless headphones for the little tykes, meaning in the front we could listen to the radio, our own music via Bluetooth or USB connection, or a selection from the entertainment system’s own hard drive.
Both the SG3 and SG4 LWB models are fitted with a 12-speaker Rockford Fosgate premium sound system as standard that has been acoustically tuned specifically for the Shogun’s cabin layout. The amplifier pumps out 860W through a 250mm subwoofer, four tweeters, three mid-range speakers and four mid-bass door-mounted speakers.
It all sounded rather good, actually.
Rugged and highly dependable, the Mitsubishi Shogun remains a worthy choice for those seeking a tough 4×4 with everyday usability. Just avoid spending too much at the top end.
To read more on the new 2016 Mitsubishi Shogun, visit here > http://wp.me/p2ltEi-45j
➤ Fast facts : Mitsubishi Shogun
* Model tested: Long wheel base, 3.2-litre turbo-diesel automatic in SG4 trim.
* Price: £36,799 (+ £650 for Granite Brown on WV64 EGB as tested)
* Power and Torque : 197bhp @ 3,800rpm / 441Nm @ 2,000rpm.
* CO2: 224 g/km.
* 0-62 mph: 11.1 seconds.
* Top speed: 112 mph.