Mitsubishi in the

footprints of

elephants

Mitsubishi Shogun Sport
Mitsubishi Shogun Sport, static
Mitsubishi Shogun Sport, rear
Mitsubishi Shogun Sport, cabin
Mitsubishi Shogun Sport, boot
Mitsubishi Shogun Sport, quarry lake

TIPPERARY Tip, Big Up, Wet Drop and Elephant Footprints may sound like the names of landfill sites or even racehorses, but they are actually features on an off-road course designed to comprehensively test the capabilities of a new 4x4.

You need a tough performer to cope with the exacting demands of the Shorncote Quarry in the Cotswold Water Park, a 40 square mile area of 150 lakes in Gloucestershire and West Oxfordshire.

And in the new Shogun Sport model Japanese brand Mitsubishi has just the vehicle.

The newcomer is part of a robust product initiative from Mitsubishi that has already seen the Eclipse Cross mid-size SUV launched this year, with a revamped Outlander PHEV due in the autumn.

There haven't been three new models in the same year since the Space Wagon, Space Star and Challenger rocketed onto the scene in 1999.

By coincidence rather than design the Shogun Sport arrives next month just as the existing Shogun model goes out of production and though definitely not a replacement, the Sport is a hugely capable piece of kit.

Imposing and aerodynamic, it bears little resemblance to the last model to carry the same name and which sold from 2000-2007.

That said, the bar has been set high given that the original sold 18,000 examples in that time, and two thirds of them are still on the road.

But Mitsubishi are right to be confident about the latest car's prospects - it not only looks upmarket, muscular and interesting but both trim grades, Shogun Sport 3 and 4, have been kept below the £40,000 threshold.

Described as ‘the most advanced and capable full-size SUV ever produced by Mitsubishi Motors', the Sport offers a blend of luxury, space - even with all seven seats in position - and off-road capability.

The Japanese brand believes that, for large 4x4s at least, diesel remains the only sensible engine option, and the new model comes with a proven 2.4-litre turbocharged unit.

It is allied to a new eight-speed automatic transmission, develops 181bhp with 430Nm of torque from 2,500rpm, can hit 62mph in 11.0 seconds and reach a potential 112mph.

Prices are £37,775 for the ‘3' variant and £39,775 for the ‘4' and all cars come with full leather upholstery, a wealth of standard goodies and advanced safety gear.

The gearbox also has a Sport Mode manual over-ride allowing changes via either the shift lever or paddles and, building on 80 years experience, the Shogun Sport is equipped with the company's most advanced Super Select II 4WD system.

And wary of feedback confirming that 90 per cent of Shogun owners tow caravans, boats or trailers, the Sport also has 3.1-tonne towing capacity.

Interior load space is substantial too, measuring 502 litres in the boot and extending to 1,488 litres total cargo volume with the appropriate seats folded.

We put the big Mitsubishi through a challenging test route along major roads and Cotswold village lanes, tackling the big gravel quarry en route.

Okay, the engine can feel a little harsh particularly in its slower paces, but the car's refinement and noise insulation is excellent.

It is also agile for its size, enjoyable and lively to drive and our own average fuel return was within 5mpg of the official combined figure of 32.8 miles per gallon. Emissions are rated at 199g/km.

As the first Mitsubishi vehicle to feature a new Terrain Control System with four off-road modes at the touch of a button - Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand and Rock - the Shorncote site provided the ideal 4x4 testing ground.

Consisting of steep drops, gravelly inclines, mud ruts, sharp angles to get two wheels off the ground and a deep lake, the quarry is a hardcore venue that sorts out the men from the boys.

The Shogun Sport made light work of every section and won't just appeal to families fancying weekend adventures in the great wide open, but also those wanting quality, space and reliability.

Manufacturers' claims for their products can often be somewhat fanciful - Mitsubishi's description of the Shogun Sport, ‘As Talented As It Is Tough' is bang on the mark.

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