BY ANDY ENRIGHT
MODELS COVERED: (3/5dr 4x4 estate: 3.2 diesel [Elegance, Equippe, Warrior, Diamond])
Where to start with the history of the Mitsubishi Shogun? If you've got all day we could start back in 1981 at the Tokyo Motor Show and walk through from there, but I suspect that you may have more productive uses for your time, so I'll press the fast forward button through the second generation (1992-1999) and third generation models (1999-2007). The third generation car was the one that really had to weather the British public's defection from the family 4x4 market and lessons from this model have been incorporated into the bigger but more energy efficient fourth generation version we look at here. Two and a half million cars after the Shogun's debut, the fourth generation was introduced at the Paris Motor Show at the end of September 2006 but didn't land in British dealerships until March 2007. Both three door standard and the more popular five-door long wheelbase models were introduced, both powered by the same 3.2-litre turbodiesel engine. Safety was improved and the Shogun's engine was able to comply with the all-important Euro IV emissions regulations. With over 70% new componentry compared to its predecessor it has sold steadily and it won't be too long before those manufacturers who abandoned this market sector will be eyeing it once more. In late 2009, the engine was heavily revised in order to provide more power with brake horsepower going up from 168 to 197bhp.
What You Get
Although the shape is instantly recognisable as that of a Shogun, there are a number of key differences between this fourth generation car and its direct predecessor. Keen spotters will clock the contoured front lights blended with the blistered leading edge of the front wheelarch. There's also a revised front grille with bolder chromed slats. The short overhangs and the upright windscreen serve to remind buyers that this is no bling smoothie, instead wearing its macho credentials on its sleeve. Three door short or five-door long wheelbase models are offered. They're properly big too. In long wheel base guise, the car is 4.9m long, 1.9m wide and 1.9m high so you'll need a garage with a fair amount of headroom. Mitsubishi's innovative 'Hide&Seat' system quickly converts the long wheelbase car from a five to a seven-seater with two seats that fold from a flat boot floor to create a third row complete with integrated head rests. These rearmost seats are impressively roomy and when they're folded away, there's a 1,790 litre luggage compartment for your convenience. You won't be blown away by classy materials and swish design inside the Shogun but it never feels less than extremely durable and very user-friendly.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
There's no excuse not to find a full service history on a fourth generation Shogun. If this has been neglected, walk away, no matter how much you like the colour or the optional extras - 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.
(Based on a 2007 3.2 Equippe) A replacement exhaust (front to the catalyst) will set you back roughly £325, while a new clutch will be around £200. An alternator should be around £185 and a starter motor about £175. A new wing mirror is in the region of £260, while a headlamp is a steep £240.
On the Road
If you're after the last word in off road ability, the Mitsubishi Shogun, despite the 11 Paris-Dakar wins that it can boast, is not it. What the Shogun does offer is a very usable compromise between on-road refinement and off-road ability that will be more than adequate for most. If you want something that's a little more adept in the deep stuff, you'll be looking at something like a Land Rover Discovery. Mitsubishi's engineers will argue with this of course and to be fair, this car is very competent indeed in the rough stuff. The Shogun uses an AWC all-wheel control system, which works in tandem with a 'Super Select 4 II' transfer case. Using a centre differential lock to split available torque 33:67 front to rear, this system offers no fewer than four transmission modes; high range rear wheel drive, high-range full time four wheel drive, four-wheel drive with a locked centre differential for slippery conditions and low range four wheel drive with the locked differential for hauling yourself out of a mud bath. The five-door Shogun will accelerate to 60mph in around 12.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 106mph and the lighter three-door is a tad quicker and feels a bit punchier on the brakes. Both will tow extremely well, helped by the massive 373Nm of torque from the 168bhp turbodiesel engine. The post 2009 vehicles are even quicker, the 197bhp engine getting to 60mph in 10 seconds.
The Mitsubishi Shogun isn't the most glamorous 4x4 you can buy but it is one of the most reliable. This alone would make it a solid used nomination but such is demand that picking up a used example won't be cheap. Now that the Nissan Patrol has been pensioned off, the Shogun and the Toyota Landcruiser are carving up the market for indestructible dual use vehicles. For some, the Mitsubishi is in a class of one.