Wednesday, 24 September 2014

REVIEW - Mitsubishi Shogun SG4

The Mitsubishi Shogun has been around for many years now. In fact, the first generation ‘Pajero’ (as it’s known in other parts of the world) came to exist in the early 80s, and was actually quite advanced for its time. It had a front double wishbone suspension and power steering, and when it became a long-wheelbase and offered seven seats became a practical choice too. There’s no doubt the Shogun SG4 you see here is far removed from the original Pajero, but the formula stays the same. It’s practical, and packed full of technology. So I was looking forward to my week with it.

Looks – 9/10

The SG4 is the top of the range model in the Shogun line-up, and you can tell when you look at it. The 20-inch alloys catch your eyes immediately. The Diamond black paint and the privacy glass make for a rather striking combination; I’d go so far as to say the Shogun looked borderline ‘Gangsta’. But what you must appreciate is that isn’t a bad thing anymore. The large, imposing front end stands tall, and fills the rear-view mirror of any car in your way. The overall shape is square, but there are softer lines which turn this into an effective ‘tough’ shape. In particular, I like the flared arches and body-coloured tyre cover on the tailgate.

Inside the premium feel continues. There’s plenty of leather about, with some nice plastics on show as well. The one disappointment is the wood-effect trim. This isn’t the 90’s anymore; it’s carbon fibre this and aluminium that. Lose the maple and opt for something more 21st century and the interior would improve immensely. There’s a particularly large sunroof which creates a lighter feel to the cabin in contrast to the black leather, and the TV’s in the back of the headrests complete an executive-looking interior. The touch-screen sits nice in the centre of the dash, and the dials are rather nice, yet some buttons such as the heated-seats aren’t the most visually pleasing.

Handling/Performance – 8/10

Under the bonnet of this leviathan you will find a 3.2-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine. It may not seem the most powerful- offering 197PS- but there’s a hefty 441Nm of torque. Coupled to the 5-speed automatic gearbox, it feels rather smooth and refined. Should you choose to plant your left foot in the carpet, the Shogun will do 0-62mph in 11.1 seconds, which is hardly going to set your hair alight. Nor will the top speed of 111mph result in you missing a junction on the M6. But at 70mph the Shogun is quiet and comfortable. Around town the gearbox makes driving a doddle, and there’s plenty of mid-range oomph available thanks to that big torquey motor.

The Shogun also rides well. Through town and on the motorway it’s soft and comfortable. The high driving position is nice, and I was pleasantly surprised that the 20-inch alloys didn’t adversely affect the ride over bumps either. As far as handling goes, there is a bit of lean; to be expected in a car this size. The Shogun didn’t make me seasick- which is always a good sign- and it can navigate corners adequately. The downside to the 20-inch wheels would come should you wish to venture in a field. Well it would be a shame to get them muddy anyway. I don’t see many of the SG4’s going for a spot of off-roading so this is less of an issue.

Economy – 7/10

You would be right in thinking that such a large vehicle with a 3.2-litre engine will not be cheap to run. CO2 emissions of 224g/km put the Shogun in VED band K. Tax will cost you a rather hefty £635 in the first year, and £285 for the next 12 months. With the automatic gearbox fuel consumption is 33.2mpg combined, and for a 7-seater 4x4 such as the Shogun, that’s not too bad at all. And you can achieve those economy figures in the real world too, such that people who are in the market for a car like this will be happy with the return.

Practicality – 10/10

I certainly couldn’t find any issues with the Shogun in terms of practical usability. There are seven seats, and the rear-most two fold flat to the boot floor to leave a vast space. Even with all seven seats occupied, there’s enough space for your shopping. Adults can fit in the rear seats too, although it’s not the best on long journeys. The middle row of seats were brilliant though; with plenty of legroom for even the tallest of folk. It was great to have the rear-seat entertainment as well. It’s standard kit on the SG4 and will keep the kids entertained. There’s in-built games and they can utilise different sources (iPod vs. DVD for example) to prevent too much bickering. For people up front there’s a satellite navigation system, heated seats, Bluetooth and a reversing camera. Which, by the way, you need with a sticky-out spare wheel and towbar.

Fun – 8/10

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with the Shogun. I loved the exterior looks but then took a strong dislike to the wood trim. So we didn’t get off to the best start. But actually, as the week progressed, I rather enjoyed having the Shogun. It sat proud on the driveway. It’s not the obvious choice when it comes to a large 4x4, but it also made it a rarer sight on the road. People would turn and look at the Shogun, possibly even wondering if the local dealer was in town. But it made me feel good from behind the wheel. And it put a smile on my face. I’m still not a huge fan of Mitsubishi’s iPod interface; it struggles with my heavily-loaded device. And that wood trim…

Concluding Remarks

So that’s the Mitsubishi Shogun then. It’s a lot of car, so you might be thinking it’s a lot of money. But I think the £36,799 price tag isn’t that bad at all. There are no optional extras as such. Pick a colour, and everything else is standard kit. So take your mod-cons, and price up an equivalent Q7, X5 or Discovery; you’ll be surprised at the difference. The Shogun is a capable car off the road and a pleasant one on it. It’ll last a while, too. For more information visit your local dealership or visit the Mitsubishi website. The Shogun SG4; not an obvious choice, but definitely a smart one.

Total Score - 42/50

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