The Mitsubishi Shogun is one of those cars that has just, well, always been there. It’s a dependable old bus that’s as willing off-road as it is on. It’s got presence, too, which is a rare thing these days. The aggressive lines, the boxed arches, the two-tone paint – yeah, a Shogun is an easily recognisable old beast. And it’s also a car that, if you need to follow the road less driven, should be given your consideration.
These days, cars seem very keen to boast the aesthetics of 4×4 ruggedness, but without any of the actual ability. That’s where the Shogun shines. Take this sucker off-road and it’ll simply laugh and then headbutt the nearest muddy ditch. It’s a proper bit of kit. Okay, so its on-road manners leave a little to be desired, but that’s the price you pay.
The car you’re looking at here belongs to Mitsubishi Motors UK. It has a heritage fleet of older vehicles which exist to not only celebrate past victories, but to also allow us journalists to have a go. Low mileage and immaculate, this is probably the best example out there. Would you get one this mint for your two grand? Maybe, maybe not. You would definitely get one close though, that’s the main thing.
This one is a V6 petrol model, fitted with an automatic gearbox. It makes sense in a car of this size – cog-swapping can be tiresome. Plus, with the gears taken care of, you can enjoy the rest of the experience as we did. The 178bhp 24V 3.0 V6 is a willing old lump. You’re not going to set any land speed records with it, but it keeps up with modern traffic. And with 188lb.ft it’s got more than enough shove to move the big old beast along.
On the road, you’ve got a brilliant driving position. You can lord it up over other motorists with ease. Though don’t get too carried away, as you need to concentrate when piling into corners – there is a lot of body-roll. It also rolls about on the big 70 profile tyres. It’s not a sports car, you have to drive it as such. Also, you sort of have to book the steering in advance. The wheel you clasp does indeed point the Shogun roughly where you want it to go, but it’s a bit over-assisted, so feedback is minimal and as such, the steering feels somewhat disconnected. It takes some getting used to, especially if you’re coming to a Shogun from something smaller and nimbler.
The Shogun does on-road stuff to a passable standard. And that’s just fine, because unlike modern cars with nothing more than a 4×4 image, the Shogun is capable. Pull it away from the asphalt and you’ll be laughing.
This second-generation model was the first to feature Mitsubishi’s Super Select 4WD system. It’s good, so good in fact that an evolution of it can be found in brand-new Shoguns, Shogun Sports and L200. It boasts 2H (2WD high range), 4H (4WD high range), 4HLc (4WD high range with locked centre differential) and 4LLc (4WD low range with locked centre differential). Basically, all the kit you need to pull yourself out of any given sticky situation. Working with the multimode ABS, SS-4WD allows the Shogun to distribute the power in the most effective way. We took this one into some muddy, ploughed situations and it simply laughed in the face of what was some very sticky terrain.
This is the one to have, by which we mean the short-wheelbase. Its stubby nature makes it more capable off-road, though the long-wheelbase shares the same 40.5° approach angle and 37.5° departure angle. However, it’s the 2,420mm short-wheelbase that can mount peaks with ease, thanks to a 27.0° ramp break over angle. Four-wheel-drive people everywhere are nodding. Trust us.
For your money, you’ll be able to get one in the same specification as this, or close. There have been two further generations since this, which have helped hammer the values down. As such, your £2,000 isn’t going to limit you to a wreck. You should be able to find a good one. Do be sure to check the MOT history though, as Shoguns love to corrode. So, make sure that’s been addressed, if indeed it has become an issue at all.
The big thing to remember is that while numbers are falling, the Shogun isn’t exactly rare. Shop around and buy the one that’s right for you. And if you do, we promise you’ll love it. Just so long as you can forgive it for being a bit of a damp squib on the road!
Engine type – 3.0 V6 SOHC 24-Valve Petrol
Max power – 178 bhp
Max torque – 188lb.ft / 4500rpm
Wheels – 15” x 7J Alloy
Tyres – 266/70 SR15