Mitsubishi Shogun Sport 2018-present

It's got a spacious interior but the Mitsubishi Shogun Sport lacks the on-road comfort of more expensive SUV rivals

The unstoppable rise of the SUV can be attributed to a number of simple factors: owners like the added sense of security the chunky body addenda affords, appreciate a more commanding view of the road ahead and find comfort in the ability to load small children inside without having to bend over.

But both of these points are factually incorrect. The SUV is no safer than your average family hatchback, the commanding driving position no longer applies, seeing as practically everyone now drives a high-riding 4x4, and small children soon grow into slightly larger children that can no longer clamber into a car unaided because it is too tall.

An estate car is more practical and generally better at lugging loads, a hatchback is often just as spacious inside and vans or pick-up trucks make much better companions to those with real loads to transport.

But perhaps most irritating of all to some buyers is the fact that the modern SUV is generally useless at venturing off-road.

A lack of four wheel drive, impractical wheels and basic traction control that has been tuned for road use often means they come unstuck at the mere sight of a hillock.

This leaves a small selection of the car buying public - i.e. the section that genuinely has to traverse a mountain or stream to complete the school run - with very little choice.

Mitsubishi has long served this client base with its formidable Shogun - a powerful but boxy off-roader that traditionally scrimped on the interior luxuries and exterior styling glitz for tough off-road performance.

Alas, the Shogun will no longer be sold in the UK, leaving many fans of the mud-plugging warrior wondering what will sit on the driveway in the coming years.

That's where the Mitsubishi Shogun Sport comes in, as it boasts improved looks, it has been built on over 80 years of Mitsubishi 4x4 expertise and comes as standard with the sort of equipment that makes real off-roading possible.

A locking rear differential, four individually selectable transmission modes, hill descent assist, a traction control system to tackle numerous scenarios and a wading depth of 700mm all come as standard.

Only the Toyota Land Cruiser can really compete on specification, but even the most basic models start at £40,000 and easily breach the £50,000 mark when kitted out with additional luxuries.

Similarly, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is renowned for its off-road abilities, but it is also pricey when the options boxes are ticked, while the more affordable SsangYong Rexton feels very cheap and basic in comparison.

This high standard specification is down to the fact that Mitsubishi wants to appeal to today's SUV buyer, despite the rugged underpinnings of its model, so offers 18-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting, reversing cameras, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and leather upholstery on even the most basic models.

It's a tempting proposition, particularly for those who want some luxury yet have a genuine need to venture into the mud, but it's not without its flaws.

The 2.4-litre turbo diesel engine (the only thing offered here) sounds agricultural and it's not particularly efficient when compared to rivals, the interior lacks that premium zing and the ride will feel distinctly agitated for those used to the refined on-road manners of a modern SUV.

However, the price might just make some of these factors meaningless for many, as Shogun Sport deliberately dips under the £40,000 mark to avoid the dreaded 'luxury car tax' and it will be available in a commercial vehicle version (blanked out rear windows are the only real change here) for those business users who fancy saving a dollop in Benefit in Kind and monthly running costs.

It also comes with seven seats as standard, the rearmost of which are easy to access thanks to some clever middle bench folding mechanisms and offers an impressive amount of headroom, even though legroom is naturally limited.

Last Updated 

Saturday, June 30, 2018 - 22:30