Mitsubishi Shogun Field

Test venues: Shropshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire

Mitsubishi has recently expanded its range of Shogun models available in the UK. Neil Perkins spent a week at the wheel of the new Shogun Field and was impressed with the Japanese manufacturer's flagship 4x4.

Mitsubishi has been at the forefront of 4x4 design and development for many years and has built up an enviable reputation in world endurance rallies with derivatives of the Mitsubishi Shogun (badged as a Pajero in most places and as a Montero in Spanish-speaking countries) winning the gruelling Dakar Rally and numerous awards in recent years.

Positioned at the hub of a competitive market sector alongside the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Land Rover Discovery, Isuzu Trooper and BMW X5, Shogun continues to fend off the opposition and the launch of the new Field, Warrior and Sport Warrior models in April this year have extended its appeal.

Mitsubishi has set a sales target of 17,000 four-wheel drive vehicles this year in the UK and the Shogun Field I tested is sure to feature highly in these statistics. It has a new seven-seat configuration and is powered by a 3.2-litre DI-D direct injection turbo diesel engine, which has bags of torque right through the rev range and also pulls strongly at motorway speeds.

This is available either with a five-speed manual transmission or an automatic/manual mode. The Field is also the first Shogun to benefit from a new active stability and traction control system (MASTC). This improves road holding and grip, especially in greasy and icy conditions. I found it particularly impressive on a wet road this summer after a prolonged dry period, where there is the added danger of rubber and dust on the slippery tarmac.

Mitsubishi claims major improvements in off-road handling and the new Trace Control system minimises drift or under steer if you accelerate too hard into a corner.

The manual Field model I tested will set you back an on-the-road price of 28,999, although the Shogun range starts at 21,999 for the 3.2 TD DI-D Classic. Prices rise to 32,499 for either the range-topping Shogun 3.5 V6 GDI Elegance Automatic or the V6 Warrior Automatic.

The Field is also fitted with climate control, an expansive electric sunroof, a wood/leather steering wheel, a wood centre panel and titanium window switches and a windscreen wiper de-icer. An automatic version will set you back an extra 1500. The Warrior, on the other hand, has larger 18-inch alloy wheels and the Sport Warrior is available either with a 3.0 V6 petrol engine or a 2.5-litre turbo diesel.

The new Shogun feels far more refined and comfortable to drive for any length of time than the older models. The suspension, while firm, is not too stiff and it handles like a normal road car along country roads and A-roads. On motorways it is susceptible to wind buffeting and door seal noise, but handles well and is generally comfortable to drive on a long journey. There is ample rear seat leg and head room and plenty of luggage space if you opt for the five-seat format, instead of utilising the additional two rear seats.

The car will happily cruise all day at motorway speeds and I managed over 460 miles on one tank of diesel. Mitsubishi claims a top speed of 106 mph and an average fuel consumption of around 27-29 mpg. The manual version reaches the speed limit in 12 seconds. The gearchange is slick and precise and it is straighforward to select one of three four-wheel drive Hi or Low options - a useful illuminated panel on the dashboard telling you which option has been activated.

The Shogun (Pajero) is one of the world's best known 4x4s. It has won the Dakar Rally for the last three years and was voted 'Best Sports 4x4' by Britain's 4x4 Magazine last year. Subtle improvements have made a good car better still. The Pajero remains one of the best buys on the road and at the top of the shopping list in its competitive section of the marketplace.

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