The Shogun name has been around for over 35 years and in that time as an SUV it’s built a well-deserved reputation for reliability.
When a smaller ‘Sport’ version was launched in 2000 customers understandably had high expectations. During the seven-year window that Shogun Sport cars were on sale in the UK, 18,500 of them were put on the road and to their credit 12,000 are still out there.
As a commercial vehicle, that reliability is extremely important, and for Mitsubishi to launch a CV version of what is essentially its new, revived, flagship SUV they must be pretty confident the Sport Commercial can not only live up to its predecessor but also the weight of expectation of having the Shogun name.
Like the Mitsubishi L200 pick-up, the Shogun Sport Commercial is a proper 4x4. That’s because it is based on the same ladder-frame chassis with a double-wishbone, coil-sprung front suspension, but in contrast to the L200, which uses rear leaf springs, the Sport gets a multi-link coil rear suspension set-up.
That small but significant difference will allow it to compete more readily as a passenger car in the jam-packed SUV segment, but also bestows a degree of finesse and refinement for its commercial vehicle customers they are now beginning to expect.
The Shogun can wade depths of up to 700mm while approaching 30° or departing 24.2° slopes. Off-road it’s extremely capable and comfortable too. It has much of the same abilities as the L200, albeit slightly limited by those approach and departure angles.
It does, however, do it in a more comfortable manner thanks to the Super Select II four-wheel drive and new Terrain Control System that has intelligent and noticeably different modes for gravel, mud/snow, sand and rock. That same competence can be found on-road where the Sport Commercial disguises its working vehicle roots admirably.
There is a degree of body shimmer, and the engine is fairly coarse and sounds stressed at higher speeds (which may account for the fairly low 32.8mpg claimed consumption figure) but it handles gamely, and while the eight-speed gearbox races through the ratios it does so in a polished way.
Rather than a seven-seat people-mover, the loadspace floor is levelled off behind the front seats to a height at just below the 840mm load lip of the rear hatch.
There’s a small bulkhead just ahead of the rear doors, which remain useable, providing convenient side access.
Measuring up at 4,785mm long, 1,815mm wide and 1,805mm high, the Shogun Sport Commercial has decent loadspace for a converted vehicle. Total volume is 1.48m3, while the maximum load length is 1,827mm. There’s also 1,000mm between the wheel arches and it can tow 3.1t or have a 600kg payload.
The conversion from SUV to light commercial is straightforward, with no dumbing down of the equipment between passenger car and working vehicle.
For the UK car there are two trim levels, but the Commercial is only available in the higher specification.
On top of the standard-level 18in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, keyless start, reversing camera, auto wipers and lights, and touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth that has support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the highest level Shogun Sport 4, on which the Commercial is based, gets an improved sound system, heated front seats, a 360° camera, blind-spot warning system and adaptive cruise control.
It’s a smart but fairly bland cabin that does little to make itself stand out, but in comparison to a purpose-built LCV interior it’s definitely at the top end of the spectrum and similar to high-end pick-ups.
Rob Lindley, Mitsubishi Motors UK MD, says they believe diesel “remains the most sensible option”, which is why for now there will be no electrified version like there is with the Outlander PHEV. Instead, the vehicle comes with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel that is available in just one output, with 181hp and 430Nm of torque, paired to an eight-speed auto gearbox as standard with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts.
The new-generation Shogun Sport looks to carry on the old Shogun ethos, while still being appealing for the typical modern SUV customer. Chunky wheel arches and an oversized exterior look give a strong road presence, improved aerodynamics help lower wind noise, and plenty of leather over the seats, steering wheel and gear lever make the whole experience more comfortable.
But the Sport Commercial needs to perform as a van and make financial sense. While buyers enjoy the flat-rate benefit-in-kind on company cars, or can reclaim the VAT, high fuel consumption similar to that of a mid-sized LCV is an obvious detraction for a vehicle that can carry so little in comparison.
George Barrow is the UK judge for the International Van of the Year, the prestigious prize awarded by leading European LCV journalists.
Mitsubishi Shogun Sport Commercial 2.4
Price (ex VAT) £30,000*
Price range (ex VAT) n/a
Insurance group n/a
Service intervals 1yr/12,500mls
Load length 1,827mm
Load width (min/max) 1,000mm
Load bay height 820mm
Gross payload 600kg*
Load volume 1.5m3*
Engine size/power 2,442cc/181hp
Combined fuel economy 32.8mpg
Great off-road abilities paired with comfortable on-road manners that come close to matching more expensive SUVs. A surprising package to consider as a commercial vehicle for those looking for lowered taxation but not necessarily cheap running costs.