Don’t take your love to town

This morning, I became one of those people.   No, I haven’t thrown my rubbish onto the road or kicked somebody’s dog.   I haven’t stolen my neighbour’s underwear from a washing line either.   So what did I do which made people look at me like that?   In fact, I took my (still small) child to school in one of the biggest 4x4s on the market.   And I shall continue to do so all week because I have the latest 2012 model year on test.

The Shogun has been with us for almost three decades, has a fine rally pedigree (numerous Paris-Dakar wins) and now represents one of the most capable vehicles on (or off) our roads.   The capability of Land Rover’s models is legendary, yet the feel behind the wheel of the Shogun – still with leather and token strips of wood on the dash – is one of brute strength and durability; the weight and chunky design of the Mitsubishi inspire enormous confidence.   This LWB model is also 5½ grand cheaper than a mid-spec Discovery 4.

It’s not perfect, by any means.   Corners should be respected and there is a fair amount of roll as you might expect from something this tall.   The height also makes it susceptible to cross winds when driving at speed.  Steering feels a little under-geared (at about 3¾ turns lock to lock) – which you’ll discover quickly, even with its respectable 10.6 metre turning circle. Otherwise, it’s simple to manoeuvre with large door mirrors, rear-facing camera, fairly light steering and gentle power delivery from the five-speed auto ‘box.

Acceleration is a reasonable 11.1 seconds to 62 mph and while unable to match the quoted combined mpg figure in the mid-thirties, high twenties isn’t bad for mixed driving. Certainly, the copious levels of torque mean the rev counter rarely strays above 2,000 rpm. The 3.2 litre engine is a four-pot and while far less refined than the Landie’s V6, feels more than up to the job. It normally runs in 2WD with power to the rear but is switchable to 4WD while on the move. The centre differential can be locked in both high and low range.

It feels super-sized in any car park and it isn’t as slick as some of the competition but pressed into service around rural Cheshire and Derbyshire, the Shogun shone.  It is comfortable, roomy, powerful and relaxing – even if much of the pleasure is about knowing what it can do rather than what it’s being used-for.

The SG3 variant is well-appointed too and includes pretty much everything a driver might ordinarily need or want. The dashboard gadgets include rolling graphs for mpg, barometric pressure, height above sea level, etc. I’m not exactly sure when I’d need a graph but it’s novel.   This model features a powerful Rockford audio system, music server and sat-nav which perform very well.

And try out those 12 speakers I did.  It’s interesting how different music suits different vehicles. Glam rock goes down well in my ‘70s MGB and I once drove a Saab convertible which suited Italian arias beautifully. The Shogun? It is best suited to country, with Shania Twain, Dolly Parton and the Dixie Chicks all feeling so right.

So it is too much for the school run and a bit of a handful about town (like its redneck music tastes).   It is, however, wonderfully suited to rural life.   And if I had a spare £37,999, my family might have to learn to love music by people called Hank and Dwain.

Mitsubishi Shogun LWB DI-DC LG3 model (tested) costs £37,999. SWB DI-DC LG2 starts at £29,499.

0-62 mph 11.1 secs; 197 bhp @ 3,800 rpm; 441 Nm torque @ 2,000 rpm; CO2: 224 g/km (band K)

Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○

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