Mitsubishi Shogun SG4 – Review
By Liam Bird
Mitsubishi’s Shogun seems to have been around for almost as long as I can remember and has become a familiar sight on our roads and indeed our unpaved areas too. With its upright windscreen, chunky, squared-jawed styling, balloon-like tyres and a spare wheel mounted on its rear door the Shogun has never made any apologies for being a proper 4×4 (in contrast perhaps to some of today’s so called faux-by fours).
If rumours are to be believed it was the inspiration for the Land Rover Discovery: Upon seeing the Shogun, the Coventry-based engineers realised there was indeed a market for something that fitted squarely between the no-nonsense Land Rover and their increasingly luxurious and expensive Range Rover. The Shogun was the world’s first all-forward-facing seven-seater off-roader. If you’ve just been to see a new Discovery Sport, the Shogun is indeed where the idea for those extra seats originally came from.
These days the Shogun is still one of the world’s highest selling 4x4s, used by emergency services, farmers and trailer towers alike, who’ve all been attracted to its capabilities when the going gets tough. But, 32-years after we first clapped eyes on it, is Mitsubishi’s old warrior still a wise choice?
For 2015 the Shogun gets a subtle makeover in the form of a new integrated grille and all-important LED running lights. While goodies such as rear air-conditioning, USB ports and tyre pressure monitoring systems, plus (dependent upon spec) piano black trim, leather seats and even DVD players all put in an appearance inside.
Mechanically things stay more or less the same. The 3.2 litre 4-cylinder Di-D diesel, the only option available to UK buyers has, just like always, been tuned for torque – all 325lbft of it. It’s a cliché to call it stump-pulling, but once aboard you certainly do feel like you could pull up trees – or houses – with a Shogun. It’s a feeling amplified still further if you’ve selected low-range and locked the diffs. That same pulling power also means the Shogun (in LWB guise) can tow up to 3500kg, or uncoupled, charge to 60mph from rest in just over 11 seconds.
On the road the Shogun never feels as big as it looks. The high driving position means visibility is virtually cinematic in nearly all directions. If the rear-most seat is unfolded you’ll be glad of the reversing camera. Body roll is kept in check reasonably well. On a sweeping road the Shogun can be punted along quite easily allowing admirably rapid and acceptably comfortable progress.
However, on twistier roads the ageing 5-speed automatic tends to hunt for ratios and never seems to settle. As you switch from corner to straight and back to corner, the engine revs rise and fall like a tug-boat on a heavy swell. Add in the inevitable wind noise generated by the huge mirrors and barn door-like aerodynamics and the whole Shogun driving experience can be both a noisy and tiring one. It’s never what you’d call truly relaxing.
But then it could be argued that the Shogun’s natural habitat is not on the asphalt. Despite its leather-lined interior and logically laid-out interior, the Shogun was designed for some serious rough and tumble. It’s capable of hauling itself out of nearly everything you decide you want to drive through, up, or over. With its short overhangs both front and rear, as well as a digital trip computer that combines an altimeter, a barometer and digital compass, there is no doubt it is not some dressed-up suburban pretender.
It’s because of this that these days the Shogun feels unrefined and slightly dated. Yet to some buyers it still offers the perfect mix between luxury car and serious, no-nonsense workhorse.
If it was my money being spent and I was to be brutally honest, I’d seriously consider a Discovery. Albeit, at this price, a used one. Perhaps that means I’m just a big softie. Rest assured, the Shogun remains anything but.
Mitsubishi Shogun LWB 3.2 DI-DC SG4
Engine: 3.2-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel
Transmission: Super select 4 II 4WD, 5 speed auto
Power: 197 bhp @3800rpm
Torque: 325lb ft @2000rpm
0-62MPH: 11.1 Sec
Max Speed: 111mph
Towing Capacity: 3500kg
VED: Band K