Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin Estate 2000 - 2005

Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin Estate 2000 - 2005

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • Exceptional off-road abilities
  • Haute-couture design with serious gear underneath
  • Inexpensive and practical


  • No diesel option available
  • The petrol engines are not economical
  • Limited boot space


Although the Shogun Pinin looks like a mini 4x4, its well designed body hides a wealth of Mitsubishi mechanical gear. Because the car is so misunderstood, you can actually get a used Pinin at a very low price. It’s an ideal option for someone looking for their first 4x4 or a budding off-road enthusiast. The car is practical both in the city and on the rough surfaces.

Exterior and Interior

The Mitsubishi Shogun Pinin was designed by the Italian car design giant Pininfarina, as you may have already guessed from the car’s name. Not only it was designed in Italy, all models that headed to European were assembled in Turin, Italy. As a result, the Shogun Pinin is a very well-built car with above the average assembly quality. It’s a very successful design. Although there is Shogun in the name, the small 4x4 is not a diminutive copy of the larger Mitsubishi Shogun. The Pinin has its own identity with stylish body lines, high ground clearance and large wheels. It makes the car look very dynamical and grown-up. It is still a introductory car though and the front end has been designed to appeal to the youth market. In size it is comparable to the Daihatsu Terios, but the Italian Shogun is much wider and offers a higher comfort level. Unlike the small Japanese competitor, the Shogun offers decent shoulder room and the driver doesn’t have to mind his elbows constantly. The car is offered in two body configurations, a 3-door and 5-door. The former has a very limited boot space, but the 4 seats are equally comfortable and should accommodate adult passengers. People with long legs might find the Pinin too crammed though, especially in the back.

Performance and Economy

Essentially there are two very different Shogun Pinins hiding under the same badge. The entry level car with a 1.8-litre engine is equipped with a basic all-wheel drive system that includes a transaxle differential. The serious business starts with the 2.0-litre engine that comes with an all-wheel drive system featuring a low-ratio gearbox and a Torsen diff lock. The Shogun Pinin boasts a body-on-frame construction. That, and the good 8-inch ground clearance, ensures the car can offer remarkable off-road action. With the body-on-frame construction there is a trade-off. The car is not brilliant in the city traffic. It is bouncy and hard with excessive body roll. If you’re trying the small Shogun being familiar with larger body-on-frame cars, you won’t notice a difference. However, for people that have bought the Pinin as their first 4x4, there may be a slight culture-shock. The GDI index is an abbreviation for Gasoline Direct Injection. So it’s a fuel system similar to that of a diesel engine, only using petrol, hence it displays characters similar to diesels. Although you’d expect superb fuel economy from a direct injection engine mounted onto a small light car, it’s not the case. The 1.8-litre GDI delivers 32mpg while the 2.0-litre engine (the only option for serious off-roading) will return mileage slightly below 30mpg. The engines are well optimised, so driving in busy city traffic won’t affect the fuel economy too badly.

Like to Drive

If you don’t mind the body roll, the car is actually very enjoyable. It’s nippy in city traffic and capable off the road. Although it’s a small car, the driver’s space is convenient and sensible. It’s easy to handle and easy to park – a perfect option for beginner off-roaders.

Faults and Repairs

The GDI engines are good but they require special servicing. You have to reset the maintenance schedule in your head and prepare to visit the garage more often than you would in a different make of car. The body is susceptible to rust, but other than that, the small Mitsubishi is a reasonably reliable car.