Should Jay-Z come to Britain to produce his next music video, utilising the rural set of Emmerdale as an unlikely backdrop, chances are the vehicle of choice for him to roll and cuss his way around the Dales would be the latest limited edition Mitsubishi Shogun.
Chances are that Mr SC Carter is as unlikely to make it across to Yorkshire as Frazer Hines is to rap his way to number 1 in the downloads chart lamenting his tough upbringing in the ghettos of Hotten.
Unlikely, but not impossible if the Shogun Black is a portent. You see, few vehicles are better placed to offer cross country capability with a visual package as ‘hip hop’ as the big, blinging ‘Bishi. The incongruity between the upright, old-school, off-roading stance and the body addenda that wouldn’t look out of place cruising in LA is both alarming and endearing.
It doesn’t appear to be very, err, Black despite the name…
The ‘Black’ of the name is a theme shared with the smaller ASX crossover and is in specific reference to the adornments on this version, over and above the top-of-the-range SG4 model on which this limited edition’s based.
Hence, the car is not black but instead is available in five colours (one of which incidentally is a pearlescent, glitzy black finish); the stark contrast of this example, finished in Frost White, provides a visually impacting canvas to highlight the aspects that make this edition special.
For a £1000 premium, the Black edition Shogun receives satin black finishes to the grille, headlamp finishers, sidesteps, door handles, mirror housings, rear spoiler, roof and, particularly arrestingly, those enormous 20” alloys.
All very noticeable add-ons but really worth shelling out a four-figure sum for?
Considering those embellishments push the on the road price to just shy of £42,000, a considerable sum in most people’s books, the top-line SG4 specification already well equipped, with a full leather interior, seven seats (the third row best suited to children though), a powerful Rockford in car entertainment system with rear passenger DVDs, satnav, Bluetooth connectivity and rear parking camera. Unsurprisingly, most things that can be automatic or electrically controlled are suitably fitted.
That said, a high kit count does not a premium product make. Glance your finger tips across the plethora of plastics used for the interior and your brain categorises them everywhere from ‘suitably robust’ to ‘did that come from the original 1982 Shogun?’ Everything feels solid and creak-free in terms of assembly but the Shogun’s basic architecture and design from back in 2000 is now showing through very conspicuously.
Those long wheelbase Shogun’s are spacious enough for a rapper and his crew, though?
Long wheelbase Shoguns indeed have seven seats, the rearmost row hiding under the boot floor. Whilst having all those chairs adds to its flexibility as a family carry-all, again the Shogun’s age is beginning to be noticeable. Presented with the Mitsubishi’s arrangement, Gordon Burns would be rubbing his hands with glee upon discovering the complexity of the challenge.
Like any procedure it becomes quicker and easier with familiarity but it’s such a comparative faff. Swing open the side hinged rear door, together with accompanying spare wheel (again, the Shogun illustrating how far the competition have moved on in terms of design if not ease of use and access) and begin the process: remove the boot floor, pull up the ‘feet’ of the seat, slide a lever, rotate the whole seat frame, slide another lever to allow the seat back to fold to the upright position, then unclip the headrests from their hidey-hole and slot them in before shutting the door. Then look down and realise you’ve forgotten to put the boot floor back in.
You’ve also got the dilemma of where to put the loadspace cover too as there’s no track to manoeuvre it around to behind the seats. It’s more a case of manhandling it out of the car and propping it up in the hall until you need to put it back.
Other SUVs also feature folding third rows too, but erecting them is literally the work of pulling on a canvas strap until the seat is in place.
The Shogun’s near five metre length pays dividends in terms of loadspace. Mitsubishi doesn’t quote a figure for the boot space in seven-seater mode but it looks like it would be at least 150l, comparing against similar SUVs. The fewer seats you use, the more cavernous the space within. Jay-Z might be in the driving seat but Bear Grylls and Sir Ranulph Fiennes could be plotting an expedition in 1790 litres of cargo bay. Park the Shogun in Kensington and it could be rented out as a bijou studio apartment.
Back on the outside, this white ‘Black’ edition looks military-grade United Nations spec
It certainly looks rugged. Tough-looking, squared off lines, bulging wheel arches and acres of cladding on the lower body extremities give the Shogun a Tonka-esque appearance, as well as conveying every gram of its two-tonne-plus girth in visual presence.
At the wheel it feels as heavy as it looks, despite all manner of power assistance and electronic trickery to keep the Mitsubishi feel manageable and stable. Clichéd maybe but the Shogun drives exactly how it looks.
Pootle along (yes, despite its bulk, you can pootle in a Shogun) at lowers speeds and the Mitsubishi proves to be capable at suppressing the roughness of urban asphalt, providing a comfortable and relaxed ride for occupants wherever they’re positioned. That said, having driven a lower grade Shogun with smaller alloys and higher profile tyres, the ride can be more cosseting still, but for 20-inchers and 50-series rubber, they do a decent job.
What’s more entertaining is when you try and barrel into corners with the sort of enthusiasm you might muster on a weekend jaunt. Entertaining because as you’re turning the wheel more and more whilst braking and clenching buttocks, it’s impossible not to exclaim ‘whoah’ as you’re at it. Winding B-road blasts and the Shogun are not happy bedfellows but only a fool would buy one expecting it to handle like a high-rise Evo X. You have to drive it more considerately and gently around the bends, despite the uprighting electronics earning their keep, the upside is a surprising turn of speed when the ribbon of tarmac straightens again.
Oh yes, a 3.2-litre turbo diesel. That’s a lot of torque.
325 lb/ft of force to be precise enabling the Shogun’s mass to be propelled along with amusing alacrity. With four sets of wide rubber grabbing at the road, instant traction is achieved providing brisk acceleration both from standstill and at cruising speed.
What tempers the enthusiasm for speed in the Shogun is a five-speed automatic gearbox that is regularly indecisive about which of its ratios best suits the performance. Dab the accelerator to overtake and the noise intrusion of different pitches as revs rise and drop before rising again as cogs get swapped can get tiresome.
Should you be so tempted, gears can be changed manually in sequential fashion by slotting the enormous gear lever to the left. Whilst it overcomes the gearbox software’s tendency to ‘hunt’, it feels as appropriate in the Shogun as turning up to a function in a black tuxedo with brown shoes.
The engine itself is a rumbling beast of a motor and enourmous for a four-cylinder. Start-up and hard acceleration induce an agricultural diesel clatter, no doubt to Jay-Z’s delight when plugging through the fields.
So where does the Shogun Black fit in the marketplace?
Lest we forget, Mitsubishi’s largest 4×4 is a ‘proper’ off-roading machine, equipped with a separate chassis to maximise its potential for traversing terrain where roads simply don’t exist. Yes, it might be equipped with glittery, button festooned showroom trinkets, but the Shogun is fundamentally from the hardcore end of the SUV spectrum.
Not convinced? Even with the massive wheels in situ, there’s a lot of wheel arch ‘air’ in which they can retract for extreme articulation over undulating surfaces and inside, next to that JCB-like gear lever, is its mini-me, shifting the brute from rear to low-ratio four wheel drive. If you’re intending to get stuck in the middle of nowhere whilst looking bad-ass, there’s not much that can get you out of trouble better than the Shogun.
Gargantuan, heavy and subsequently thirsty, the Shogun feels like it’s from another era in a modern day world of eco-this and low-emission-that.
The drivetrain is noisy and indecisive; materials used within are hardly the last word in tactile pleasure either. And, in Black specification, whilst the kit count is high, it looks faintly ridiculous too. On the road, the handling doesn’t inspire confidence at speed and it’s hardly cheap either.
And therein lies its appeal. Underneath all that glitz and façadery is a rugged and tough go anywhere machine that can transport seven people or a van-load of kit to and from inhospitable areas with comparative ease. That it looks so imposing adds to the fun.
If the Jay-Z in you finds the adornments most appealing here, then think carefully before ploughing in because the reality might prove disappointing. But if the Joe Sugden in you needs a car with go anywhere capability, that’d have a fair stab at ploughing a field, then the Shogun Black is worth serious consideration. Having sold over 100,000 over two decades, you’d be inclined to think Mitsubishi knows its target demographic.
Thumbs Up: Off-road prowess, presence, space, acceleration, equipment list.
Thumbs Down: Handling, ease of use, gearbox indecision, feeling long in the tooth.
Model Tested: Mitsubishi Shogun Black SG4 3.2 DI-D 4WD
Top Speed: 111mph
Combined cycle fuel consumption: 33.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 224g/km
VED Band/Cost: K/£270pa
Engine size: 4/3200cc common rail fuel injection, turbocharged diesel
Boot space: not quoted-1790l
Kerb weight: 2300kg
Price: £42,799 (January 2012)
All photographs © Mitsubishi Motors 2012