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THE SHO MUST GO ON
Published on Saturday 25 May 2013 12:53
Ten Second Review
There's not much that can touch a Mitsubishi Shogun for rugged dependability. The latest models boast a few styling improvements, some better quality interior fittings and a Euro V complaint powertrain. Otherwise the story hasn't changed considerably. Believe me, that's good news.
It's no wonder that the Mitsubishi Shogun has such a loyal and devoted customer base. There are some cars that rely on huge gales of marketing bluster to keep them afloat and some which shine briefly but then fade to obscurity. The Shogun is the ultimate slow burner. Since 1982 it has sold to buyers who just want something solid, reliable and which is utterly unaffected by weather conditions or wilful neglect.
The fourth generation Shogun arrived in 2007 and since then has been tuned and fettled to further improve what was already a very competitive package. The latest car features a whole host of developments that aim to keep both existing and new Shogun owners quietly happy with their choices.
If you're after the last word in off road ability, the Mitsubishi Shogun, despite the 11 Paris-Dakar wins that it can boast, is not it. What the Shogun does offer is a very usable compromise between on-road refinement and off-road ability that will be more than adequate for most. If you want something that's a little more adept in the deep stuff, you'll be looking at something like a Land Rover Discovery.
Mitsubishi's engineers will argue with this, of course, and to be fair, this car is very competent indeed in the rough stuff. The Shogun uses an AWC all-wheel control system, which works in tandem with a 'Super Select 4 II' transfer case. Using a centre differential lock to split available torque 33:67 front to rear, this system offers no fewer than four transmission modes; high range rear wheel drive, high-range full time four wheel drive, four-wheel drive with a locked centre differential for slippery conditions and low range four wheel drive with the locked differential for hauling yourself out of a mud bath.
On road, owners will appreciate the added urge of the 3,200cc common-rail diesel that's now good for 197bhp. This makes the Shogun rather punchy off the line, getting to 60mph in just 9.4 seconds in manual three-door guise. The ride quality is far better than in old-school body-on-frame SUVs and the extra length of the five-door car further irons out poor surfaces. Noise levels at motorway cruising speeds are a little higher than more urbane rivals, but as a vehicle that works well both on and off road, the Mitsubishi is packed with very sensible compromises.
Design and Build
It'll take quite a keen eye to be able to identify this latest car. Rather than make you play a game of spot the difference, I'll clue you in on the changes. The most obvious is a revised chrome grille with slotted bars and thick dividers on either sides. There's also a colour-keyed front bumper, a black front skid plate, redesigned alloy wheels and black roof rails. The interiors have been revised with uprated cloth and leather finishes, better illumination for the instruments and brushed silver trim inserts.
Three door short or five-door long wheelbase models are offered. It's properly big too, at least in long wheel base guise. This is 4.9m long, 1.9m wide and 1.9m high so you'll need a garage with a fair amount of headroom, especially if you fit a roof box for ski trips. Mitsubishi's innovative 'Hide&Seat' system quickly converts the long wheelbase car from a five to a seven-seater with two seats that fold from a flat boot floor to create a third row complete with integrated head rests. The three door car is a little more pinched in the back, as you'd expect for a vehicle that sacrifices fully 235mm in wheelbase to its big sibling.
Market and Model
Mitsubishi has decided to ditch the old model names, so out go the Equippe, Elegance and Diamond models and in come the more suitably utilitarian SG2, SG3 and SG4 trim levels. The Warrior badge lives on, marking the top of the short wheelbase range, above the SG2. As always, the Shogun comes packed with an array of standard safety and luxury equipment. All models come with MASTC active stability and traction control, alarm and keyless entry, climate control, twin front, side and curtain airbags, ABS anti-lock brakes backed up by EBD electronic brakeforce distribution and 17-inch alloy wheels fitted as standard. There's also a 'brake override' system that intervenes if the throttle and brake are pressed at the same time, cutting the throttle. That's sure to make heel and toe downchanges a toughie.
The SG3 and SG4 variants are equipped with auto lights, auto wipers and privacy glass while the SG4 gets a colour coded spare wheel cover as standard The comparative strength of the yen means that the Shogun is no longer the outright bargain it was a few years ago but the opening price of £29,499 doesn't seem too far off the mark, although the top of the range long-wheelbase SG4 begins to look a little conspicuous at £40,999.
Cost of Ownership
The big news in the engine department is that the latest powertrain is fully Euro 5 emissions compliant. This is still a very big and heavy vehicle, however, so don't expect it to sip fuel, especially if you're running loaded or towing. The kerb weight of a manual long wheelbase car is a hefty 2,265kg and this takes some energy to get moving.
The plus side is that whole life running costs are on the reasonable side, depreciation offset to a certain extent by the low up front asking price and by a steady demand for this sort of car, a genre that's a bit more immune to the vagaries of fashion than typical compact or luxury 4x4s.
Insurance is on the reasonable side thanks to the Shogun generally being purchased by more mature customers who don't park them outside nightclubs. Fuel economy is rated at 36.2 (combined) for a manual short wheelbase, while an automatic long wheelbase isn't far behind at 33.2mpg. These same two cars feature emissions of 207 and 224g/km respectively.
The Mitsubishi Shogun occupies a small but vital niche in an ever-evolving 4x4 market. As sales of the more ostentatious cars wane in favour of more environmentally responsible transport, there will remain a core requirement for an all-weather, all-terrain vehicle that can tow, fulfil the family responsibilities and not be too precious about things in the process. The Shogun discharges these duties with a minimum of drama.
This latest car brooks no great surprises but in many ways familiarity has bred respect for Mitsubishi's low-key approach. Solid engineering, a thoughtful compromise between off-road durability and on-road refinement and extremely aggressive pricing all combine to make sure that what some people may consider a throwback is, in fact, a vehicle of keen relevance. I'd be prepared to bet that Shoguns will still be in British dealerships long after Porsche Cayennes and Range Rover Sports are distant memories.