Mitsubishi Shogun Sport: Loaded with pulling power
The Mitsubishi Shogun Sport is well placed to win a slice of the SUV market among owners unimpressed by the pulling power and ability of 'soft roaders'
FEW and far between are the options if your motoring requirements include pulling heavy trailers and carrying up to seven people, writes William Scholes.
When I say 'heavy trailers' I mean over 3 tonne heavy, the sort of heavy that often involves horseboxes or serious amounts of building materials.
Generally speaking, the stresses and strains involved with such loads mean that the vehicle will have a separate chassis and body, with the passenger compartment essentially attached to an extremely strong ladder-frame platform.
This differs from the unitary or monocoque construction method used in virtually all passenger cars, which incorporates the chassis and body in one part.
A monocoque has many inherent advantages but they tend to wilt once trailer weights start to get much heftier than 2,000kg.
You will also want four-wheel-drive, for the superior traction and stability it brings. Plus, pulling your horsebox into a slippery paddock in a car lacking 4x4 is a recipe for going nowhere fast. Or slow.
Many pick-ups tick the ladder frame, 4x4 and 3 tonne-plus trailer weight boxes; but none of them can carry seven people.
If lugging people is as important to you as hauling a horsebox, then your options are fairly restricted.
The Bentley Bentayga, for example, starts at £140k, meaning its price tag is heavier than the 3,500kg trailer it can tow. A Range Rover will do it as well, but like the Bentley it is a five-seater at best.
No, for full seven-seater capability, you will need to try something like a Land Rover Discovery (which starts at £46k), the evergreen Toyota Land Cruiser (from £40k for a seven-seater), the equally venerable Mitsubishi Shogun (from £35,400 for a seven-seat version) or the SsangYong Rexton, which lets you pull 3.5 tonnes for less than £30k.
Or you could try the car featured on these pages today - the all-new Mitsubishi Shogun Sport.
The Shogun Sport's credentials are bolstered by some serious 4x4 hardware, complete with locking differentials
You might wonder why Mitsubishi needs two vehicles in roughly similar territory.
The Shogun Sport, however, is crafted in the mould of an on-trend SUV with some serious capability rather than a more utilitarian 4x4 workhorse like the full-fat Shogun.
As such, the Shogun Sport offers a more car-like and luxurious interior than the bigger Shogun.
It also further underlines Mitsubishi's transformation from a brand chiefly associated in Northern Ireland with the nosebleed-fast rally-car-for-the-road Lancer Evolution to an SUV specialist.
The Shogun Sport brings Mitsubishi's SUV offerings to five.
These include the Nissan Qashqai-rivalling ASX, the newly-arrived Eclipse Cross, the Outlander - Europe's best-selling plug-in hybrid in its PHEV guise - and the Shogun.
Size-wise, the Shogun Sport sits between the Outlander and the Shogun. For comparison, its footprint of 4,785mm long and 1,815mm wide is a little larger than a Land Rover Discovery Sport and essentially the same as the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe.
At 1,805mm tall, the Shogun Sport is a tall car, in part a product of the ladder frame chassis.
A 2,800mm wheelbase should also mean that the rear-most row of seats has reasonable space.
The Shogun Sport's credentials are bolstered by some serious 4x4 hardware, complete with locking differentials.
The 'super select 4wd' system offers various modes: rear-wheel-drive; four-wheel-drive; four-wheel-drive with the centre differential locked; and a low ratio mode, for extreme conditions.
Further indications of the Shogun Sport's ability are littered throughout its specification sheet - the wading depth is 700mm, for example, and it can pull a braked trailer weighing up to 3.1 tonnes. It has trailer stability and hill start assist systems.
One engine is offered - a 2.4-litre four-cylinder diesel turbo, paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
It makes 179bhp at 3,500rpm. Peak torque - the vital statistic for proper towing - of 317lb.ft arrives at 2,500rpm.
The Shogun Sport is based on the underpinnings of the legendary - not a word I would use lightly - L200 pick-up. Among other things, that gives confidence that it is fit for heavy duty work.
A downside to fitting all this heavy duty hardware is running costs that will be higher than a less capable SUV; the Shogun Sport's carbon dioxide emissions mean first-year car tax is pricey, for example (see At a Glance panel, below).
Further indications of the Shogun Sport's ability are littered throughout its specification sheet - the wading depth is 700mm, for example, and it can pull a braked trailer weighing up to 3.1 tonnes
While the Shogun Sport - despite its name - isn't designed to tackle roads with the enthusiasm of a Lancer Evo, it has been designed and equipped to give a convincingly car-like, SUV ambience.
Mitsubishi is offering the Shogun Sport in two trim levels, dubbed '3' and '4' at £37,465 and £39,465 respectively, which are not only better equipped than the Land Cruiser but also cheaper.
The entry-level '3' would seem to have all the equipment you could reasonably want.
Its long list of refinements include leather-trimmed seats with electric adjustment for front passengers, LED headlamps, tail lamps and daytime running lights, 7-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, Bluetooth, DAB radio, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, side steps, roof rails, privacy glass, front skid plates, cruise control, electrically-folding door mirrors and rain sensors.
Take the £2,000 step to the '4' trim and your Shogun Sport gains a raft of safety kit, including forward collision mitigation system, adaptive cruise control, an ultrasonic misacceleration mitigation system, blind spot warning and a 360-degree camera.
Heated front seats, an upgraded sound system and headlamp washers are also included.
Mitsubishi has, as some readers may remember, used the Shogun Sport nameplate before.
That car saw service from 1998 until 2006, with its off-road ability and reliability winning it a loyal following.
SUVs have soared in popularity since then, and today account for around a third of all new registrations.
The new Shogun Sport looks well placed to win a slice of that market among owners unimpressed by the pulling power and ability of the sort of SUVs they might regard as 'soft roaders'.
There is nothing soft about the Shogun Sport - it is a serious piece of equipment - and the fact that it has some measure of style and seven-seat versatility will only broaden its appeal.
AT A GLANCE
MITSUBISHI SHOGUN SPORT
Price: Shogun Sport '3' £37,465, Shogun Sport '4' £39,465
Engine and transmission: 2.4-litre four-cylinder diesel turbo, eight-speed automatic gearbox, four-wheel-drive; 179bhp, 317lb.ft
Performance: Not yet quoted
Fuel consumption and CO2: 31.4mpg, 222g/km
Car tax: £1,760 in first year, then £140 annually
Benefit in kind: 37 per cent
Euro Ncap safety rating: Not yet tested; the L200 pick-up on which the Shogun Sport is based secured a four-star rating (81/84/76/64) in 2015