Mitsubishi Shogun SG3
Sector: Large SUV Price: £38,799 Fuel: 37.7mpg CO2: 224g/km
In a lifespan of almost three decades, the Shogun has joined an elite group of off-roaders. Hard-wearing, reliable and capable of carrying huge loads, yet comfortable and compliant enough for road use, it’s become a weapon of choice for the emergency services and those who need nothing to stand in their way.
So Mitsubishi has stuck to that DNA ever since, subtly modernising rather than revolutionising its gargantuan off-roader. Unmistakeably a Shogun, there’s still a very close family resemblance between this newly refreshed 2012 model and the 1982 original.
This will always be a matter of taste. Some drivers prefer their off-roaders to drive like high-riding luxury estate cars, others want them to deal with the worst conditions that can be thrown at them. The Shogun caters for the latter.
Not that it’s without luxuries. Mitsubishi simplified its trim levels to numbers for 2012, and the near range-topping SG3 comes well-loaded with creature comforts including newly upgraded heated leather seats, the usual climate and cruise control and a loud audio system operated from a slightly clunky front screen. It also seats seven, thanks to a folding rear bench that drops neatly into the boot floor.
Though it is a little plasticky, the chunky switchgear and huge gear levers mean it manages to wear its crudities well, including the LED four wheel drive display which looks like it’s been borrowed from the first generation car. There may be a set of flashy 20-inch wheels on the options list, but the Shogun will always look most at home on a set of thick-sidewalled off-road tyres.
It feels incredibly solid to drive. The V6 diesel engine is noisier than a lot of urban-focused SUVs, but smoothes out once it warms up and makes a refined, effortless motorway cruiser. However, fuel consumption that’s typically in the low thirties won’t suit everyone and the gearbox, though smooth, isn’t as responsive as the newer dual clutch units.
But this is part of the Shogun’s appeal. Come flood, snow or mud, there’s a sense as you sit miles above other traffic that this huge, heavy, mechanical off-roader will carry on moving long after most cars have passed their limits.
Against small-engined, low-CO2 urban SUVs, the Shogun feels like a rugged workhorse. But for a car that’s designed to make light work of the heaviest off-roading, it’s got plenty of creature comforts for on-road use, too, with the added advantage that no amount of adverse conditions will bring it to a halt.