Shogun still has a great deal to offer

THE Mitsubishi Shogun was the first of the foreign 4x4’s to offer a serious challenge to the dominance of the Range Rover as king of the quality off-roaders nearly 30 years ago and has gone on to establish a prominent niche in this UK market sector, writes Bryan Longworth.

It quickly became a favourite among the horsey set and could be seen in increasing numbers in car parks at racecourses and horse events as its reputation soared.

Since those days there have been numerous other premium 4x4 rivals launched and the market has got much tougher but the Shogun is still hanging in there despite the competition.

I have just been driving the long wheelbase Shogun Elegance which is being improved for the 2012 model year from January although there are still some of the 2011 models in dealerships.

My test car had a quality leather clad interior although it was showing its age in certain areas one being the second lever next to the automatic gear shift for selecting four wheel drive and low ratio gears as on most 4x4s now this job is done electronically by pressing a switch.

It also seemed to be narrower than rival vehicles but there was plenty of interior room including a bench seat for two in the floor of the load area.

Power came from a 3.2-litre four cylinder diesel engine that provided a top speed of 111mph, a zero to 62mph time of 11.1 seconds and a combined fuel consumption of 34.4mpg.

Despite its bulk the Shogun is a very stable vehicle in gale force winds as I discovered when driving back from the Midlands when some of the strongest winds for years made motorway driving quite dodgy.

The off-road ability of Shogun is legendary as I have discovered at some tough off-road events over the years and it is also a very good tow vehicle which is why it has been so popular with horse box and caravan owners.

I note that for 2012 the Shogun which is available as a three and five door has a new and bolder front grille and there are various other cosmetic improvements both inside and on the outside.

The engine has also been tweaked but basically it is still very much the same car which should please Shogun enthusiasts.

There will be four models in the latest line-up with either short or long wheelbase and prices start at £29,499 rising to £40,999.

My Verdict: An old favourite which is still very competitive.