The Mitsubishi Shogun may not be the flashest kid on the block – and certainly not the newest – but there’s no denying the smack-in-face non-subtlety of its impact.
Mitsubishi dealers swear by the Shogun. Out of all their models, it is this that breeds some of the fiercest loyalty from customers. Since the inception of this bodystyle in 2001, some buyers have gone for one new one after another: to them, it is the only 4×4 that really matters, which is music to the ears of a local dealer.
Not that Mitsubishi is resting on its laurels. Fair enough, the Shogun is for those who put function before fashion. They are bought by people who need a tough, dependable tool for hauling horseboxes as much as mixing it on the school run. They’re not bought by mugs though. That’s why Mitsubishi has given it a power hike and an all-round polish in time for the 2010 winter season.
It doesn’t look much different, mind. It was facelifted, successfully, a few years back, getting a new outside look and transformed interior. This continues for 2010, offering clear reasons for drivers of the old one to trade up.
Beneath the surface is where the changes have been focused this time around. The 3.2-litre four-cylinder diesel is agricultural compared with the V6s you’ll find in many mainstream rivals but tough, powerful and dependable; even more so now, with a power increase to 193bhp. Torque is even more colossal – it is now a thumping 441Nm.
Acknowledging the fact Shogun buyers are more interested in substance than style, news that the extra power extends the towing capacity by 200kg to 3,500kg is likely to be of real interest to customers. It’s also now paired to a new five-speed auto box in all but the basic Equippe versions, for much improved emissions and fuel economy.
Economy has actually been transformed. Fuel consumption improves thanks to engine revisions including low friction oil and an ‘intelligent’ alternator, official figures improving from 26.7mpg on the outgoing car to 33.2mpg on the new one. Keep it in two-wheel drive for maximum economy too – it’s three per cent more efficient in this mode! CO2 is down by a fifth on auto versions, from 280g/km to 224g/km.
Mind you, from the moment you turn the key and feel the big four-cylinder engine send a shudder through the Shogun’s frame you just know the driving style is going to be somewhat unsophisticated and so it proves.
There’s plenty of power but the engine is gruff, the steering slow and heavy and the overall weight is telling. If buyers are looking for a more refined and dynamic car-like experience they’ll buy a Touareg or something along those lines. Five-up, it’s a comfortable and relaxing cruiser though, the weight smothering the worst of the bumps and the ride acceptable.
Its real strengths lie elsewhere. The ride height has been dropped slightly to help improve the aerodynamics but what the Shogun lacks in fancy pants variable ride height suspension it more than makes up for in good, old-fashioned toughness.
It sure does the business off-road. Owners are happy to use it as such, too: they swear by its reliability and toughness – worth bearing in mind given the Discovery’s recent slating in a Which? Cars reliability survey.
At just shy of £35,000 for our tested long-wheelbase Elegance spec test car the Shogun is bang on the money compared with the Discovery, Land Cruiser and Jeep Cherokee. The Nissan Pathfinder is cheaper but feels it. The Shogun is very well specced too, getting climate control, heated seats and keyless entry with Elegance adding a fancy Rockford Fosgate 30GB hard drive-based touchscreen music and nav system, panoramic sunroof and more besides.
Just as well there’s a standard reversing camera on Elegance models too, because rearward visibility with the boot-mounted spare is awful. It also makes the rear door very heavy. Interior trim is plasticky in places and way behind mainstream premium rivals but it’s likely to be hardwearing enough.
In this age of swanky, in-your-face ‘premium’ SUVs there’s something refreshingly honest about the Shogun – it’s not trying to be anything it’s not and does what it does exceptionally well. Seems there’s life in the old toughie yet…