Have the 2010 revisions dragged Mitsubishi’s imperious off-roader into 21st century contention? We test the latest Shogun – on the road and off it…
Excuse me while I flick through the handbook. Let me see now – ah, yes, here we are: ‘off-road performance’. ‘The Shogun can tackle the most arduous off-road work with confidence,’ it says. Yes, that’s what I thought. ‘Every facet of the Shogun’s development is geared towards superior off-road performance.’ Pause for vigorous nodding. ‘It’s all but unstoppable!’ That’s right!
So, why am I stuck?
Let’s rewind. I’m off on a trip to a modestly slippery Welsh hillside and I need a proper, grown-up off-roader – a car whose toughness transcends the frippery of the term SUV. The Shogun! Although the Mk4 has been outside your school since 2006, they’ve fettled it for 2010, and this is our first taste: the long wheelbase, seven-seat, five-door Elegance model.
The new car has lower CO2 emissions than any other car in its class (bar the X5), its 3.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel ultimately pumping 224g/km into the Welsh atmosphere (you know the Welsh atmosphere – misty, damp, chilly etc). Better than the Audi Q7 (239g/km), Discovery (244), Grand Cherokee (270) and indeed last year’s Shogun (280).
The same engine as before has been tweaked and fettled, increasing power and torque by 18% over the outgoing car, the new figs being 197bhp and 325lb ft of torque. In terms of grunt and go, it’s quite nippy. And the tweaks have hauled the Shogun’s mpg creds up to a not-too-shabby 33.2mpg, making it less of a planet-crusher than Sian Berry would like us to believe.
Spot the Shogun in the car park and there’s a moment when you think they’ve delivered the old one by mistake. Jump into the flat seats of the shiny leatherette cabin and you’ll think maybe it’s not the previous model but the one before that. And short of the Tardis itself there can’t be any easier way back to 1990 than ten minutes driving this car. The engine rattles and hums like a U2 album, the flighty steering waives its right to speak and the five-speed auto has a relationship with the engine more troubled than Israel’s with Palestine.
And yet… and yet
After the first ten minutes I’m absolutely hooked. The agricultural honesty of the Shogun is a potent reminder that life was actually better before BMW, Audi and Porsche crashed the Shogun party, bringing with them fat steering wheels, thick carpets, Oliver Reed drinking habits and less off-road DNA than Stephen Hawking himself.
The Shogun is it! And, at just £34,999, it costs a Korean hatchback less than BMW’s X5, making it not only honest, but a proper, life-affirming bargain. And all this love bursts forth even against the sleety background of my bit of Wales, into which the Shogun has sunk. My reactions go like this: swear, throttle (car turns sideways, wheels spin), swear, throttle (further sideways, further spinning), hysterical laugh, neutral, engage centre diff lock, throttle (sideways, wheelspin), handbrake, panic, deep breath, get out, notice there’s no civilisation for miles in any direction, assess wheel positions, get back in, manoeuvre back and forth in 1-inch increments, eventually drive out, hysterical laugh.
It was my fault. In these situations you don’t brake (I did), you don’t steer (I steered) and you ease the throttle (rather than performing Riverdance on it). The Shogun was not to blame. It’s an old-fashioned bit of damn good kit, and despite my flailings it got me out and got me home. It makes the German competition look like foppish, overweight ninnies, and there’s no way in a million years I would have attempted that hillside in any of them. No, the Shogun rocks. I would have one, I really would.