The glitter band

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Some off-roaders have ever more serious limousine aspirations…

This is no cheap Range Rover alternative. The Mitsubishi Shogun 3.5 V6 is by no means inexpensive. It is comfortable, willing, well-appointed and the 24-valve, 205 bhp engine provides an eloquent argument in favour of petrol-powered utility vehicles, albeit a thirsty one. A full tank will set you back more than £40, and you’ll need care to manage much more than 300 miles between pit stops.

And the vehicle itself costs almost £37,000, which is right up there in Range Rover territory. And that is the Shogun’s biggest problem. The Range Rover exists…

Forgetting the menace from Solihull for a moment, the Shogun’s performance on a return trip from London to the Ochilvie Hills was admirable. The V6 has a delicious soundtrack if you choose to unearth it, and even then there’s precious little cabin noise. It is relaxing over long distances, and it has copious mid-range pulling power, not to mention driver aids such as air conditioning, cruise control and electrically operated everything.

But there’s a dichotomy here. Do you really need all these accoutrements in what was, after all, conceived as an off-road vehicle? If you’re only going to press the Shogun into service on tarmac, why not buy a BMW 540, a Mercedes E320 or an Audi S6? And if you are going to go where Germany’s finest can’t, you might well appreciate the dashboard-mounted inclinometer and compass, but do you need such generous wrappings of cowhide, a CD multi-player or such plush carpeting?

It’s a familiar story. Develop something as a workhorse, watch as it acquires popularity from an entirely different clientele as it emerges as a status symbol and, hey presto, it becomes de rigueur to embellish it with all manner of ancillaries which have no real lace on an all-terrain vehicle.

Mitsubishi is not the only manufacturer who appears presently to be rather missing the point, but if that’s what the market demands you can hardly be critical…

For the moment, the Range Rover may remain out of reach, but the 3.5 Shogun V6 deserves consideration if you happen to be after a seven-seater fashion accessory that has the capacity to climb steep, muddy slopes.

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