The ageing looks of the Mitsubishi Shogun give it a bit of kudos in an era of off-the-shelf SUVs

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You don’t have to be a petrolhead to realise that a lot of cars look pretty much the same these days. And I don’t just meet the corporate ‘branding’ either.

The worst offenders are in the SUV sector. There’s only so much you can do to a five-seater with four-wheel drive and boot space to make it style differently.

Which is probably why the ageing looks of the Shogun actually give it a bit of kudos these days. All those curves and muscle-bound wheel arch extensions – it’s a throwback to the turn of the century.

I’ve surprised myself with a growing liking for the Mitsubishi parked outside this week. It’s not an angular beast like many utility vehicles. I like it because it does stand out from the crowd and stay true to Shogun roots.

The Mitsubishi Shogun was never designed to be a lifestyle SUV…

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Expect a flood of new SUVs in 2016 as manufacturers from Jaguar to Rolls-Royce launch four-wheel drive models to tap into our yearning for multi purpose vehicles.

I’m starting to wonder what the next fad will be – or have we exhausted all possible configurations for new types of car?

For those of us without a family, it’s sometimes difficult to get your head around the need for an SUV – who needs seven seats when a rasping two-seater is more than enough.

Fortunately, the Shogun was never designed to be a ‘lifestyle’ machine. It was always a serious off-road machine for people who don’t mind getting the floor carpet dirty.

I wonder if we will be able to say that about any SUV in five years time? Even the next generation Land Rover looks like it was designed for the high street rather than a farmyard…

The Shogun has become a poor man’s alternative to the Land Rover Shogun…

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The Shogun has become the poor man’s alternative to a Land Rover Discovery. That’s on-road and possibly off – depending on how serious you are about trashing a £40k vehicle.

There used to be a time when the Shogun was king but it’s been left behind on-road by the likes of the BMW X5, the Volvo XC90 and many others.

Yes it has a whopping towing capacity but that’s not enough of a selling point to tempt buyers confronted by a forecourt of alternatives.

The ride is ponderous and bouncy, engine noise from the rumbling engine is intrusive and it’s thirsty too.

Console yourself with the amount of standard equipment and cabin space. Oh and that towing capacity of 3,500kgs (a Toyota Land Cruiser is 2,800kgs).

The Mitsubishi Shogun – still doing the business after all these years

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Mitsubishi would cringe if I were to compare the Shogun with last week’s Range Rover. Apart from the whopping price difference, they are aimed at very different markets.

You aren’t going to use the Shogun as an urban-mobile – and say what you like, I’ve rarely seen a Range Rover towing a horsebox in the Cotswolds with serious mud on its wheels.

Our top spec SG4 Mitsubishi is capable of being a competent, semi-luxury machine and the Range Rover is brilliant in the mud. But that isn’t what people buy them for.

So, we have two 4x4s that are polar opposites. And I like it that way. The Shogun sounds and feels positively agricultural by comparison but like my friend says, it does what it says on the tin…

Mitsubishi’s L200 is its best pick-up yet – but do you need the bling of the Barbarian?

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Last day with the L200. This latest model is the fifth incarnation and, as you might expect, it’s far and away the best. The interior may feel a little dated but the new common-rail turbodiesel is a huge step forward in terms of refinement.

Despite a sound thrashing over the last seven days, the Mitsubishi is still returning around 36mpg too  – it’s capable of 43mpg. And if anything goes wrong, the Barbarian comes with a five-year/62,000-mile warranty.

Main gripes include the rather naff styling, which is bordering on OTT, while the L200 still leans into corners if at any time you forget that it’s essentially a working machine and not a five-seat people-mover. It’s a bit of a bone-shaker over rough surfaces too.

To sum up, if you need a proper workhorse for your lifestyle or business AND need a comfortable cabin for the family afterwards, the L200 is a great alternative to more expensive SUVs.

You might question whether you need the bling of the Barbarian though…

Lots of puddles? The Mitsubishi Barbarian takes no prisoners…

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It was so damn cold last night we had to light a fire. The rain fell heavily and a partially filled the load space at the back of the L200 double cab – making for a comical, if wet, exit from the farm this morning.

days like this remind me why people buy 4x4s. I should qualify that – people who live in the countryside. Sitting water that would terrify a sports car driver caused the Mitsubishi no problem at all.

And there’s no doubt the L200 has enough ground clearance. In fact, my only complaint would be that the side steps don’t actually stick out enough to give me feet enough purchase to get in.

OK, I may have big feet but try it and you’ll see what I mean…!

Sam Warburton versus the Barbarian? Not quite, he drives a Range Rover

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I’m just back from Cardiff where I have been interviewing Welsh rugby captain, Sam Warburton. Appropriately, he got his first captaincy for Wales against the Barbarians in 2011.

I can’t really see Sam in L200 Barbarian – he actually drives a Range Rover Sport. However, like the big fella, the Mitsubishi is virtually unstoppable in the muddy rough stuff.

I had a brief chance to take it off-road yesterday too and the L200 really comes into its own. It may wallow and lean on the tarmac but in the dirt it’s quite sensational. I’ll hose the mud off the bling before it goes back.

Today’s only complaint is that the whole passenger seats vibrates when the L200 goes over rough ground. Not what you’d expect from a £25k vehicle…

My white Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian lights up like a fridge at night thanks to fluorescent blue interior mood lights

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I think it’s meant to look cool but when I blip the keyfob of the L200 Barbarian at night time, the interior lights up fluorescent blue. Now my white, rufty-tufty four-wheel drive looks a fridge with the door open.

It’s called mood lighting in modern automotive speak and it’s probably one of those features we don’t really need in a car. It goes hand in hand with acoustic exhaust systems that recreate the sound of the exhaust using the hi-fi system.

I used to think the same about heated steering wheels but have now succumbed to their charms. You will never have to wear string-backed driving gloves again.

But the crazy blue interior lighting in the L200? Well, I think it’s one step too far for a pick-up truck, however bling it wants to be…

Has the double cab concept had it’s day? See what we think of the Mitsubishi Barbarian

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If you want a luxurious SUV that’s refined and elegant, then the Barbarian (as the name suggests!) may not be the car for you. Unlike traditional SUVs, this one is built on the same framework as an industrial machine and it only takes a while behind the wheel to spot the shortcomings.

The L200 wallows on corners, nosedives under hard braking and the styling results in a fair amount of wind noise too. You can’t expect to drive a vehicle with a one ton payload AND enjoy the comforts of a Mazda CX-5, or a Nissan Qashqai.

Perhaps because the L200 was one of the first double cabs that made the leap to passenger vehicle, it does offer plenty to tempt buyers. A rash of airbags, the infotainment system and excellent seats are among the highlights.

I think the question many people will have to overcome first is ‘has the double cab concept had it’s day’? To me they always feel dated and ponderous. At least the Mitsubishi does have a dash of style to go with it and plenty of road presence…

Mitsubishi’s L200 Barbarian has more chrome bling than a rapper’s knuckle

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Mitsubishi has been making double cabs for donkeys years. The L200 is one of the best on the market and the company has shifted 4.1 million globally over the last six decades.

However, the double cab really took off about 15 years ago when somebody higher up the food chain decided it would make a cool lifestyle vehicle too. You know, add some leather, chrome and an infotainment system and you have a muscle-bound four-seater with rock hard credentials.

And this latest Series 5 Barbarian model is just about the ultimate in ‘lifestyle’. Some might say it’s completely over the top but anybody who steps up into the cab for the first time will quickly realise it’s a class above any 4×4 pick-up Mitsubishi has ever built before.

I doubt many Barbarians will go further off-road than parking on the pavement but underneath all the gloss, it is a ‘proper’ working vehicle too. I’m not sure about all the luxury trim but I must admit I have a soft-spot for the L200 and look forward to the week ahead…