Mitsubishi Shogun’s rugged appeal

The Mitsubishi Shogun is one of those cars that can leave you wondering what you're missing.

Now in its fourth generation and having been about since 1982, the robust 4x4 has had plenty of time to subtly work its way into the motoring subconscious and remains a common sight across the UK.

As with other models from Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi, the three and five-door Shogun has long had a strong fan base.

It's also proved adept at straddling the comfortable sport utility vehicle and rugged workhorse segments, allowing it to find fans among those needing a spacious and comfortable family vehicle and those requiring a compact workhorse.

With the longer wheelbase seven-seater version, its sheer size is enough to attract attention – nearly five metres long, taller than it is wide and more than two tonnes.

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This led to some eye-catching figures from the big car – 26.7mpg combined from the 3.2-litre diesel and CO2 emissions of 280g/km – less fashionable than the Shogun's sharp-suited exterior styling.

Mitsubishi has addressed this with some comprehensive tweaking of the engine and ancillaries. The engine's common rail injection system has been revised for an 18pc boost in power and torque, but a lower idling speed, reduced viscosity engine and transmission oil and an intelligent alternator that monitors electric requirements means CO2 emissions are down 20pc to 224g/km and fuel consumption improved to 33.2mpg combined.

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The improvements in efficiency are about eco-awareness, but they don't mean the Shogun has gone soft. In fact, towing capacity for the long-wheelbase model is up 200kg to a huge 3,500kg, while the Shogun's rugged and versatile transmission set-up remains firmly in place.

For normal road use, drivers can opt for simple rear-wheel drive using the centre console-mounted selector lever, maximising fuel economy. For slippery conditions and towing, the four-wheel drive option sends 33pc of engine torque to the front wheels. For tougher conditions there's four-wheel drive with a locked centre differential and low-ratio four-wheel drive with locked centre differential for ultimate go anywhere ability.

The Shogun remains a talented workhorse, but boasts well-appointed cabins. Elegance trim gets an audio system complete with sat-nav and a 30GB storage facility is present, full leather and electric front seats.

The extra row of two seats folds flush into the boot floor, is simple to operate and offers reasonable room. The interior feels simply enormous and the high-rise driving position is an effective reminder of why SUVs became so popular in the first place.

Judged on space, equipment and versatility, the Shogun could comfortably match more expensive large SUV offerings. Refinement is where the more affordable purchase price is explained, however. The 3.2-litre four-cylinder diesel is a little grumbley at tickover. It settles down at motorway cruising pace, but on the move the big SUV can't match the impressive combinations of ride and handling offered by more expensive counterparts.

Mitsubishi has opted for ride comfort and off-road ability, making the model less precise around town and when cornering – although it remains competent and manageable.

If the Shogun was likely to become a less common sight on the UK's roads as a result of increasing eco-awareness, Mitsubishi has made a big step in keeping its fan-base road-bound. More economical and just as versatile as ever, it should attract a few more fans, too.

Price: Mitsubishi Shogun Elegance five-door automatic, �34,999. Range from �26,499

Engine: 3.2-litre diesel unit developing 197hp and 325lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Five-speed automatic transmission with low-ratio transfer box driving rear or all four wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 11.1 seconds; top speed 111mph

Economy: 33.2mpg

CO2 Rating: 224g/km

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