The new Mitsubishi Shogun Sport ‘4’ went home very muddy after a week with us
5 December 2018
Most definitely of the bona fide ‘bite’ and ‘trousers’ variety idiomatically, the new Shogun Sport is, in practice, unashamedly and deliciously old-school in its values and successfully resides in a niche that most of its perceived 7-seat soft-road rivals have run a mile from in recent years.
In today’s car world of Gianna-titivated this and Louis-encrusted that, Mitsubishi’s latest model symbolically appeals to punters who just want a honking-great piece of battered cod, a hard disk recorder that can also record to DVD or an umbrella that won’t croak with the first gust.
Looks-wise, the new Shogun Sport radiates hefty road presence from all angles and is really quite desirable from the front three-quarters, blending Eclipse Cross, L200 and Outlander with an added whiff of Dakar and Samurai.
Perched up high and peering down on lesser 7-seat SUVs, the beefy gaps between the Shogun Sport’s chunky tyres and butch wheel-arches accentuate its stature further, and even the rear is pretty eye-catching but perhaps for the wrong reason, mixing utilitarian with an awkward Prius vibe.
Stepladders may come in handy for some when climbing aboard the new Mitsubishi Shogun Sport, but the ensuing feeling of loftiness is hard to live without once you’ve tasted it. The interior is a mixed but on the whole very likeable bag, with superbly comfortable front seats, plenty of room for second-row passengers and surprisingly good relative space for the two rearmost occupants, which helps set the Japanese biggie apart from its perceived rivals.
Ergonomics can’t be faulted and although even squidgy surfaces are a scarcity amidst a sea of hard-wearing materials, the chunky buttons and controls reinforce the belief that the Shogun Sport will last forever. Mitsubishi’s Smartphone Link Display Audio infotainment system admittedly smacks of an Atari with its old-fashioned graphics and slightly clunky interface, but the decision to farm sat-nav duties off to people’s smartphones courtesy of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay makes sense.
Leather seats and privacy glass are standard, while range-topping ‘4’ trim as tested adds a 360-degree camera, posterior heating in the front, a 510W amplifier that sounds rather good, plus a clutch of reassuring safety systems like adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and forward collision mitigation, which handily make ‘4’ models cheaper to insure than ‘3’.
In the practicality stakes, the new Shogun Sport has a decent glovebox and door bins along with a central storage cubby that doesn’t disappoint in size but could do with a light to see the various sockets more comfortably, while proper seat pockets and wide-opening doors further bolster the vehicle’s everyday usability.
The boot’s a trifle disappointing, though, its 502-litre capacity in 5-seat guise falling embarrassingly short of the unarguably less capable Kodiaq’s whopping 630 litres and the more similar Land Cruiser’s 620 litres. With all but the front seats flattened, the Shogun Sport offers 1,488 litres, which is again eclipsed by Kodiaq’s 2,065 litres and the Land Cruiser’s 1,943 litres. The Mitsubishi’s two rearmost seats don’t fold flat into the floor, either, which impedes the loading of longer or heavier items, and the vehicle’s rear wheel arches also eat into the space available.
Fire up the new Shogun Sport’s diesel-only engine and it’s far from hushed, but the ever-present thrum in lower gears suits it in a way, settling down nicely on faster roads where it’s replaced by wind-noise thanks to wing mirrors the size of dinner-plates that, combined with excellent all-round visibility and squarish dimensions, make this aesthetically imposing car a surprising doddle to pilot down country lanes and through the urban jungle.
The 2.4-litre unit serves up 181bhp and 430Nm torque, the 11-second 0-62mph time coming as no surprise bearing in mind the nature of the beast and its 2.1-tonne kerb weight, but the Shogun Sport’s CO2 emissions are enough to make even the most stoic of people give way to tears, at 227g/km. Even the far-from-green Land Cruiser in 177bhp 2.8-litre guise manages 199g/km, while the closest Kodiaq manages 152g/km and the Sorento emits just a few grams more. The Mitsubishi’s 68-litre fuel tank aids it on the way to averaging impressively close to its documented WLTP real-world consumption figure of 32.8mpg, providing a range of around 500 miles between fill-ups.
There’s so much play in the steering that it’s easily possible to mimic comedy driving sketches filmed against a backdrop or on a low-loader, the suspension does occasionally make a meal out of drain covers and the like, and corners need to be taken prodigiously due to high levels of body-roll, but the Shogun Sport’s ridiculously high 218mm ground clearance, L200-chassis and formidable wheel articulation render speed-bumps a non-entity.
Gear-changes from the 8-speed standard-fit automatic gearbox are smooth the majority of the time, although the worth of using paddle-shifts in a vehicle like this would justify raising an eyebrow. Elsewhere, the Shogun Sport’s brakes are lovely and progressive, and the indicator stalk being positioned on the right actually feels logical, especially for folk who drive with only one hand on the wheel.
Mitsubishis are renowned for dependable reliability along with off-road 4x4 ability to match that of Land Rovers and Toyotas, and the new Shogun Sport keeps this accolade burning brightly. It’s reassuring to glance down and catch a glimpse of the Super Select II 4WD system and its rotary dial with 2H, 4H, 4HLc and 4LLc plus gravel, mud/snow, sand and rock modes, and a rear diff-lock.
Although the Mitsubishi’s wading depth of 700mm wasn’t put to the test, its boulder-clambering ability certainly was, illustrating the strength of its 30-degree approach, 23.1-degree break-over and 24.2-degree departure angles.
This thing means business, as the marque’s loyalists would expect. Mitsubishi anticipates that 90% of Shogun Sport buyers and leasing customers will fit a tow bar, taking advantage of its impressive 3,100kg towing capacity, albeit one that doesn’t match the 3,500kg that the Discovery and Rexton can muster.
Thing is, the Land Rover’s pricing kicks off at £47,405, meaning that although the Mitsubishi attracts road tax of £2,070 for the first year, its subsequent annual payments are considerably more attractive.
Currently kicking off at £496/month including VAT, Shogun Sport lease prices surprisingly make Japanese dependability more attainable than the dearer but less desirable SsangYong Rexton (an eye-watering £623/month in top-spec’ guise). In terms of any other similarly-designed rivals that take workhorse ability and add sprinkles of luxury and toys here and there, the Korean is also surprisingly more expensive to lease than a range-topping and highly coveted Toyota Land Cruiser (£590). The likes of the Kodiaq, Sorento and X-Trail can be forgotten about, really, as they’re a different kettle of fish to the Mitsubishi Shogun Sport.
It may not be dainty and is pretty raw in certain respects, with an undisguisable flatulence problem, but the endearing Mitsubishi Shogun Sport exudes plenty of other qualities and strengths that should cement its place on the shortlists of discerning drivers with the need for an unbreakable 7-seat vehicle.
Road-test review: Oliver Hammond Photographs: Isabel Carter