Mitsubishi Hints At Next Shogun

Originally Published: November 2016

Ground Tourer could be more than a concept - but current Shogun still has years left

Mitsubishi recently unveiled the Ground Tourer. This is only a concept at this stage, but the company has dropped substantial hints at a production future – in which it could become the successor to the current fourth generation Shogun. The vehicle’s name is meant to indicate that it’s ‘grand tourer’ able to tour, grandly, over the ground. Mitsubishi says it will have a range of some 745 miles – with 10% of that available in zero-emissions electric-only mode. 

The electric part of its drive comes from three motors, one at the front and two at the rear,powered by a 25kWh battery pack which can be charged when parked by plugging the vehicle in to the mains. The motors are backed up by a 2.5-litre petrol engine which is able to charge the batteries and also drive the front axle. With a variety of intelligent systems such as active grille shutters and speed-sensitive suspension aiding efficiency, Mitsubishi says the GT-PHEV can achieve CO2 emissions of less than 26g/km. The front motor is rated at 90kW and the rears at 45kW each.

Their output is managed by Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control system, which governs its output to enhance the car’s on-road performance as well as operating as a limited-slip virtual front diff to maintain traction under hard acceleration. As Mitsubishi has it, ‘the Active Front Differential improves vehicle stability by suppressing wheelspin and (aiding) effective traction on dirt roads, snow-covered and other slippery surfaces.’ Other functions of the virtual 4x4 transmission are designed to enhance the vehicle’s dynamics and keep it stable if the driver gets carried away. And with a combined output of around 240bhp before you factor in that petrol engine, the hybrid system will definitely have enough poke to make that a possibility. Does all this point towards the vehicle having any real level of off-road ability? Again to quote , Mitsubishi, ‘GT-PHEV Concept offers effortless cruising on and off the beaten track.’ The company says the vehicle can sense changes in the surface beneath its wheels and will modulate the performance of its shock absorbers to take account of them. ‘Building upon its industry-leading electric and all-wheel control technologies,’ continues the company, ‘Mitsubishi aims to move the SUV genre to new territories. (The GT-PHEV) boasts a connected car technology which helps extract the performance of these to the maximum, to empower drivers of all abilities to follow their chosen line under different road surface conditions with assurance and thereby experience real driving pleasure.’ 

So yes, it’s still meant to go off-road. But no, we don’t think it sounds like a replacement for the Shogun. The GT-PHEV follows on from the GC-PHEV, an earlier concept along similar lines which was introduced at the 2013 Tokyo show. This was a more overtly Shogun-sized vehicle, prompting speculation at the time that it could be the successor to Mitsubishi’s halo model. Since then, however, Mitsubishi boss Tetsuro Aikawa has hinted that the Shogun might not be replaced at all – and that if it is, it won’t be by another heavy, rugged truck in the traditional off-road mould. Speaking to Australia’s Drive magazine, Aikawa refused to rule out replacing the current model with a like-for-like successor – but admitted that in traditional 4x4s like these, fuel economy is a big problem. Just as significantly, though, Aikawa said the current Shogun – now more than ten years old – will continue in production ‘for some time.’

The company’s recently launched Shogun Sport won’t be coming to Europe, so in the traditional station wagon market the Shogun will continue to fly the off-road flag for as long as emissions regs allow – which may allow it to continue in production for as much as another half a decade. Whatever shape the Shogun’s replacement takes, however, two things are clear from the GT-PHEV concept and those that have gone before it. One is that the vehicle will be a plug-in hybrid – building on an area in which the current Outlander has put Mitsubishi in a strong position. The other is that the Shogun we currently know and love will look very conservative in comparison to its successor. Mitsubishi’s ‘Dynamic Shield’ frontal styling is, for better or worse, the way its vehicles will look as it strives to carve a niche for itself in the 4x4 market of the future.

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