New Shogun? Are you sure?
With its faux-rally flared wheelarches, stubby nose complete with diamond-studded ‘Mount Fuji’ nose and hatch-mounted spare wheel, this new fourth-generation Shogun may look pretty much the same as before. But three-quarters of it is new, apparently. Like the new Outlander , it arrives here next March, and comes as a stretched five-door or short wheelbase three-door, running one engine – Mitsubishi’s familiar 3.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel.
An opportunity to hike prices?
No. There’s the familiar Equippe, Warrior and Elegance derivatives, and Mitsubishi will also introduce a topdog Diamond model, complete with big 20inch alloys, a lot of chrome and a different front grille. Despite these wholesale changes, prices remain unchanged, ranging from £22,949 for the three door entry-level Equippe to £34,999 for the new five-door Diamond. Expect the aggressive-looking long-wheelbase Warrior – the car we drove – to take the bulk of UK sales.
Should BMW and Mercedes be worried?
No, Mitsubishi hasn’t tried to glue faux wood and plastic chrome onto the Shogun, pretend it’s something it’s not, and pitch it upmarket to take on the M-class and X5. It knows its market too well. Mitsubishi’s biggest off-roader is just that – an authentic terrain buster, appealing to farmers, civil engineers, vets and anyone else wanting robust and reliable wheels that can take anything in their stride. In fact, the word ‘authentic’ popped every time someone from Mitsubishi opened their mouth at the car’s launch. Even the grab-handles on the A-pillars were called authentic off-road features… Shogun drivers may be a small band, but they are a loyal bunch, with seven in ten trading in their old Shogun for a new model.
Does ‘authentic’ mean ‘old-school’?
Well, yes, in as much as the Shogun is all about proper green-laning rather than wafting up crunchy Surrey driveways. But that doesn’t mean it’s only suitable for ploughing fields. Like its Land Cruiser and Pathfinder rivals, the Shogun runs a big capacity four-cylinder turbo diesel – there’s no petrol option because the sales numbers didn’t add up. The 3.2-litre unit, carried over from the outgoing model, is now fitted with a common rail injection system that boosts refinement, lowers consumption and ensures the engine meets Euro IV emission levels. And there’s a third of row of seats that folds flat into the floor when not in use. They’re for occasional use only – it’s a 5+2 not a seven-seater – but they’re easy to use and bearable for short trips.
And it will go anywhere?
Anywhere. With eleven Paris-Dakar rally wins under their dusty belts, Mitsubishi’s engineers know a thing or two about carrying on when the road stops. Point its blunt nose at any obstacle and the Shogun simply rolls up its sleeves and gets on with it. With its robust ladder-frame chassis, intelligent all-wheel-drive layout and optional locking rear differential, it’s all but unstoppable. Slot that transfer lever in low-ratio all-wheel-drive, ease the clutch out in first and with that torquey diesel just ticking over, the Shogun will clamber its way up, through and over anything. Little wonder the vast majority of UK telecommunication companies have them on their fleet for when they need to attend to remote transfer boxes and felled pylons.
But is it any good on the road, where it will spend most of its time?
With not a little power, a lot of weight and a ladder-frame chassis, you’re never going to set the alarm for dawn on a Sunday for an early morning blast. The Shogun does in-my-own-time very well. Anything else is a bit of a pointless struggle. For a start, its cabin is a bit of an eyesore – a random collection of seemingly unrelated dials, buttons and levers loosely held together by some unappealingly hard plastics, pretend wood that wouldn’t fool a blind man and leather from plastic cows. You sit perched up high, and driving the Shogun is a bit like driving a skyscraper from the top floor, with plenty of corner wallow, brake dive and acceleration pitch. Hooked up to the automatic box (you can have an automatic, but like the manual, it too only has five gears) it’s a bit rough and boomy, but gutsy enough for the job of lugging around 2255kg of metal. Its chuggy working-class character suits the Mitsubishi’s go-anywhere-do-anything nature. Just don't go chasing an X5.
The Shogun – a blunt and slabby off-roading tool – may seem like an anachronism in today’s fragmented off-road market populated by sleek leather-wrapped cross-over sports utility vehicles. It’s not sporty - it has never been anywhere near the Nürburgring – doesn't make any extravagant boasts about its seating arrangement, and you only get two body styles and one engine. It’s simply an honest and straightforward car. If you want a big off-roader that actually goes off-road, it’s one to consider. It’ll do exactly what you’d expect it to do. No more, no less.