Functional Shogun falls short

A few years ago I was invited to the launch of the then new Mitsubishi Shogun in Yorkshire. The proud company executives introduced the latest model with a flourish, stating that this was the first time we would have seen it.

Very quietly, afterwards I sidled up to them and explained that I had actually seen the new vehicle before! A couple of months earlier I had watched the Mitsubishi engineers give the new model a hot-weather shakedown in Death Valley and, as it was parked in our hotel, I had a good chance to have a sneak preview.

Mitsubishi Shogun

Several years on, it has to be said that my road test Mitsubishi Shogun LWB Elegance is looking a little dated. It has the classic Shogun appearance with its functional, angular styling and heavy black grained interior.

I unlocked the door and stepped inside. Aaargh! The dreaded Japanese beeps. I have said it before and I will say it again, I do not understand the purpose of assaulting the eardrums with pointless beeps. I have no idea what they are trying to tell me and I no longer care. Give me a car that gives me a simple ‘bong’ after I have settled in, should I forget seat belt, handbrake or something else important.

Already disappointed by the rather dated design and cacophony of beeps , I turned the starter and my heart sank at the clatter of the diesel engine under the bonnet. Sorry, but there is no kind way of putting this. In an era of diesel engines that are so quiet as to be indistinguishable from petrol power units, this was a massive disappointment.

Mitsubhishi Shogun interior

The 3.2-litre power unit does produce good power and torque for off-roading and towing. But, it’s neither hugely reponsive nor economical.

Acceleration 0-62 mph takes 12.9 seconds. More notably, any acceleration is accompanied by that discordant, droning diesel soundtrack.

To aid fuel consumption, you can choose to drive the Shogun in two-wheel-drive mode. The result is a combined economy figure of 26.7 mpg. In the real world, my average was around 19 mpg in two-wheel-drive mode. Carbon dioxide emissions are 224 g/km, putting this Shogun in the K-band for UK car tax.

I remember giving a Mitsubishi sales executive a lift in the back of a road test series one Discovery a good few years ago. As we lurched through a series of S-bends, said sales executive commented drily ‘this thing handles like a blancmange". He had a point. At that time the Discovery could make passengers quite queasy the way it lurched from leaning one way to leaning the other.

Now, sadly, the boot is on the other foot. While the latest Discoverys have improved immensely, the Shogun seems to have stuck in the time warp. It is the vehicle that now suffers from the unsettling ‘wobble’ as you tackle a series of bends.

Mitsubishi Shogun

Where the Shogun does shine is off-road. With 275 lb/ft torque, the choice of low-ratio automatic gearbox (automatic is standard on the Elegance and Diamond models) and differential locks, this Shogun is a genuine off-roader.

I took it across my off-road course and it practically scoffed as it shrugged off rutted tracks, buried boulders and deep heather wading.

Practicality continues with additional fold-up seats in the back of this long wheelbase model making the Shogun a six or seven seater.

I have to be honest and say I was not unhappy to pass on the keys for Shogun. It is undoubtedly a very-effective workhorse for those who need a genuine off-roader. But, at £34,999 for this Shogun LWB Elegance, it falls short of the refinement and dynamic ability I would expect in that price range.

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