2014 Mitsubishi Shogun Barbarian review

Mitsubishi has introduced a new top-of-the-range trim to its rugged 4x4. Does it give the Shogun the edge over rivals such as the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender?

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This is the Mitsubishi Shogun Barbarian, the latest edition to the rugged off-roader’s short-wheelbase range.

Mitsubishi is hoping this new model will extend the appeal of the rapidly ageing Shogun, and capitalise on a recent growth in sales, following on from some hefty price cuts made last year.

The Barbarian sits above the existing Warrior model, at the top of the range, and adds 20-inch alloy wheels, a leather interior with carbon-effect inserts, a DAB radio and a colour-coded spare wheel cover. You’ll also get an alloy pedal kit and chrome door mirrors.

It comes as standard with a five-speed manual gearbox, and the option of a five-speed automatic. There’s also a cheaper Commercial version available, which does without the rear seats and rear side windows to increase the load capacity.

What’s is the 2014 Mitsubishi Shogun Barbarian like to drive?

On the road, pretty agricultural.

All Shoguns come with a single engine option: a 3.2-litre four-cylinder diesel that produces 197bhp and an impressive 325lb ft of low-down torque.

Unfortunately, it also produces a great deal of noise, at nearly every speed within its rev range. This isn’t helped by the vast amounts of wind and road noise the car also generates, which vie with the engine in a continual assault on your ear drums.

Despite the size of the motor, it’s sluggish, especially with the auto gearbox fitted to our test car. On-paper performance looks decent enough, but put your foot down and you generally get more commotion than real forward motion, as the 'box fumbles around for the right gear.

Approach a bend and you’ll find the heavy steering is slow and vague, and there’s a lot of body roll: press on and you’ll find only average grip and distinctly below-par handling. Press the brake pedal and there’s quite a delay before anything much happens, although the Shogun does come with anti-lock brakes and a device to optimise braking force. 

The ride, meanwhile, is constantly fidgety and occasionally downright jarring as it thumps into holes and bangs over broken surfaces, shaking and vibrating various parts of the interior. Despite this it still bobs up and down when coming to a halt.  

The Shogun Barbarian isn't exactly efficient, either. With a combined government figure of 34.4mpg, and emissions of 216g/km of CO2, the automatic is slightly thirstier than the manual equivalent, and sits in the highest company car tax band - polluting more than a BMW M3, or even a Porsche 911.

For off-road use, however, the Shogun has short overhangs, excellent ground clearance, impressive approach and departure angles, and a towing limit of 3000kg.

The Shogun’s Super Select system offers four driving modes – rear-wheel drive, full-time four-wheel drive, four-wheel drive with a locked centre diff for improved traction on tricky surfaces and a low-range gear setting for real off-road adventuring.

What’s is the 2014 Mitsubishi Shogun Barbarian like inside?

The no-nonsense off-road ethos of the Shogun is evident in the way it's built. The cabin materials are more utilitarian than classy, with plenty of hard and rather cheap-feeling plastics.

Taller drivers will find there’s not enough adjustment in the driver's seat, and the steering wheel adjusts for height only, not reach. You sit up high, so all-round visibility is good, while the controls are grouped together sensibly and are easy-to-use.

There’s plenty of leg- and headroom in the rear, but getting to it is awkward if you’re flexible, and downright impossible if you’re not, due to the step up to the interior and the short length of the doors.

The boot, accessed through a side-opening rear door - another feature that dates the Shogun quite badly - is tiny, but fold the rear seats and there’s a decent 1120 litres of space.

All Shoguns come with climate control, an MP3-compatible CD player, electric windows and mirrors and keyless entry. The Barbarian adds a reversing camera, privacy glass and steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls.

There’s a 7.0-inch touch-screen infotainment system, incorporating Bluetooth and sat nav.

Should I buy one?

Although not as versatile or as practical as the full-fat LWB Shogun, this SWB model is still a heavy-duty, off-road workhorse, happier traversing a rutted field or conquering an incline than crossing a continent.

Viewed as an on-road tool, the Shogun is crude and outdated. It’s unrefined, uncomfortable and expensive to buy and to run. The only thing to say in its favour is that its main rivals (Land Rover Defender and Jeep Wrangler) are equally as dismal to drive.

If nothing else but a Shogun will do for you, we still wouldn’t recommend this leather-clad and tarted-up Barbarian: it feels a little overdressed for the rough stuff, and is unnecessarily expensive.

There are better ways to spend your money, and if we required genuine off-road ability with more civilised road manners we’d opt for the Land Rover Freelander, which combines these tough qualities in a more refined package.
 

What Car? says...   

 


Rivals

Land Rover Defender

Jeep Wrangler

Mitsubishi Shogun

Engine size

3.2-litre diesel

Price from

£31,999

Power

197bhp

Torque

325b ft

0-62mph

10.4 seconds

Top speed

111mph

Fuel economy

34.4mpg

CO2

216g/km

 
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