BY JONATHAN CROUCH
For years, Toyota's Landcruiser and Nissan's Patrol were Japan's answer to Land Rovers and Range Rovers. However, all that changed in 1983 when Mitsubishi released the Shogun. The vehicle industry worldwide sat up and took notice, impressed by the quality, luxury and ability of this new 4x4. By 1991, however, the game had moved on. Land Rover had by now responded to the challenge with the Discovery and Nissan and Toyota had all-new models. Something radical was needed to build on the Shogun's existing reputation for durability and advanced technology. And in the second generation Shogun, that's what we got. Buyers immediately loved the tough, Dinky Toy looks. The motoring press was less sure but raved over the smooth V6 3.0-litre engine and the quiet 2.5-litre turbo diesel. The result was that, for years, a Shogun was about as close to a sound motoring investment as you could get. That was all some time ago now but if you're after a big, affordable, no-nonsense 4x4 on the used market, the second generation Shogun might still be worth a shout.
Models Covered: April 1991 to May 2000: 3.0 V6 (12 & 24-valve) three & five door estates / 3.5 24v three & five-door estates [GLS, SE] / 2.5 turbo diesel [GLS] / 2.8 turbo diesel five-door [GLS, GLX]May 2000 to date:3.5 24v V6 & 3.2 turbo diesel three & five-door [GLS]
The first-generation Shogun was never the big seller that the second generation model became. Despite its ruggedness, the original line-up dated back to 1983 and is now quite rare. Best then, to stick to the post-1991 second generation Shogun or, if you can afford it and can find one 'used', a third generation example. The rounded styling and car-like interior sets the newer models apart from their predecessors and contemporary competitors. The second generation Shogun arrived in April 1991 to replace the boxy first version. Engines remained largely the same units from the 1991 launch - a choice of V6 petrol or four-cylinder diesel units. The diesels were either 2.5 or 2.8-litres, while the petrol motors came in 3.0-litre 12 and 24-valve versions plus a 3.5-litre 24-valver. For the 1998 model year the Mitsubishi mud-plugger was facelifted slightly with new-look headlights and re-shaped front and rear wings. The old 2.5-litre turbo diesel engine was finally dropped and changes were made to the flagship 3.5-litre 24v petrol unit. The all-new third generation arrived in May 2000. Engines and suspension were now bolted directly to the 'monocoque' body rather than installed in a separate chassis and there was a complete restyle inside and out. Both the 3.5-litre 24-valve petrol V6 and the new four-cylinder, 16-valve, twin camshaft 3.2-litre turbo diesel featured direct fuel injection.
What You Get
A big vehicle, make no mistake. Though less truck-like to drive than many 4x4s, the Shogun casts a substantial shadow, so be sure you can cope with the size - try a few reverse and parallel parks, to be sure. Off road ability is excellent (though not up to Land Rover standards) and on-road performance is also well above par. Equipment is generally plentiful with many versions featuring automatic transmission, air conditioning, leather trim, and (in the why-oh-why? category) a compass and altimeter for those vast DIY superstore car parks that always seem to be perched on the side of cliffs.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
A full service history is desirable especially on turbodiesels which like fresh oil and filters served regularly to prevent wear. If this has been neglected, walk away, no matter how much you like the colour or CD player - there'll be plenty more to choose from. Otherwise, there's very little to watch out for, apart from the obvious checks that you should subject any 4x4 to. Listen for whining gearboxes and differentials; look for leaky power steering, engines, gearboxes and driveshaft joints, off road abuse, tailgate and underbody corrosion and theft or accident damage. The Shogun is very well protected from rust, but the lack of a hose-down following exposure to salt water and constant mud wrestling may eventually cause the rusty red peril to attack. Mechanically, these cars are very durable. The V6 engine came from the 3000GT supercar but was de-tuned for off-roader use, its emphasis is on torque, not outright power. Nevertheless, be sure to check the service records as an abused multi-valve motor with electronic injection can cost big bucks if it goes wrong.
(Based on a 1995 3.0-litre V6) A replacement exhaust (front to the catalyst) will set you back roughly £185, while a new clutch will be £140 or thereabouts. An alternator should be around £165 and a starter motor about £126. A new wing mirror is steep in the region of £190, while a headlamp is a more acceptable £160.
On the Road
This is where the Shogun has an advantage over many of its more agricultural-based rivals. The car is certainly no lightweight but the chassis does a fine job of coping with all that weight transfer under braking and through the twisty bits. With air conditioning, CD player and an automatic gearbox, the big off-roader does a fine impression of a luxury car, on road. The commanding driving position makes an automatic Shogun almost a pleasure to conduct in traffic jams - seeing over the cars in front makes stop-start driving less stressful. If the roads get slippery, you'll also be one of the few drivers who can drive around (or even through) the hazard and keep going.
This off-roader has converted many a former Range Rover or Discovery owner and it's not hard to see why. Luxury, quality, ability and looks make the Shogun one of the better 4x4s and a great used buy.