JUST over 30 years ago the iconic Mitsubishi Shogun 4x4 was launched in the UK and quickly became a credible alternative to the Range Rover which was then virtually unchallenged at the top end of the executive off-roader market writes Bryan Longworth.
It was not long before the Shogun made a considerable sales impact in this market sector and could be seen in the car parks of racecourses and other horsey events where those attending were the people who appreciated a prestigeous big 4x4 that was good off-road and also capable of towing things like horseboxes.
This market is now much more competitive but the Shogun has survived and the current model which dates back a few years has just been given a makeover for 2015 with styling changes especially at the front that have provided it with quite a smart new frontal appearance.
Mitsubishi say the changes are a progressive evolution of the Shogun which is a tough and authentic off-roader and do not detract from its solid and indestructible image and indeed will enhance it which they have managed to achieve.
As well as the new front which incorporates integrated fog lamps and LED daytime running lights and xenon headlights there is also improved sound deadening, auto high beam, a tyre pressure monitoring system and wood trim plus other interior changes.
The changes have helped keep the Shogun up to date but it is still an old school type big 4x4 retaining the side hinged heavy rear door that still has the spare wheel on the outside and which is rather heavy and awkward to open especially if the Shogun is parked facing down a slope.
My test car was the top gun Shogun the long wheel base SG4 powered by a 3.2-litres four cylinder diesel engine with automatic transmission costing ?36,799 - there is a top speed of 112mph, zero to 62mph time of 11.l seconds, combined fuel consumption of 33.2mpg, CO2 emissions of 224g/kmm and will tow a braked trailer up to 3500kg.
Considering the price this well equipped Shogun with leather seats, sunroof, touch screen information system and satellite navigation is very good value for money compared to some rivals even though in some respects its age is beginning to show especially with handling.
The car can be driven in four or two wheel drive with low ratio gears and differential lock availability and having driven Shoguns in the most difficult conditions possible there is no doubt it is still one of the best executive off-roaders in this sector with one of the most effective heating systems and heated front seats available and its towing capacity makes it a favourite for owners with heavy horseboxes and large caravans.
I don’t think many owners will use the third row of two seats that fold flat into the floor because they are rather cramped and instead will take advantage of the huge load area that will accommodate a massive amount of baggage and the bulky things that horsey people need to transport.
The large and comfortable interior is quite luxurious but some of the instruments and controls are looking a bit dated although I doubt if those in the market for this vehicle will really mind.
Just when Mitsubishi will launch a replacement for the Shogun is not yet known but the current model with the improvements for 2015 that really do improve the exterior appearance ensure that the big Japanese SUV remains popular with country folk especially who really appreciate a large quality off-roader and tow car at a tempting price.
Verdict: Shogun gets a new lease of life.
Model: Mitsubishi Shogun LWB 3.2 DI-D SG4 Auto.
Engine: 3.2-litre turbo diesel.
Top speed: 112mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 11.1 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 33.2 combined.
CO2 emissions: 224g/km.