Despite nay-sayers claiming that SUV sales are in major decline, industry projections show a major growth in the sector.

Recent bad publicity over environmental issues appear to have had little impact on sales - rather, the recent decline is explained by the fact that, unusually, all the major manufacturers are in the process of replacing their products - buyers are simply waiting for the new models to arrive in the showrooms.

Indeed, manufacturers who don't currently have SUVs in their product lines are actually set to introduce them.

These are hardly signs of a lack of confidence in the sector.

Mitsubishi's Shoguns are authentic off-roaders, and some 2.5 million have been sold around the world since 1983.

The fourth generation model shows new interior and exterior styling, though under the skin it will undoubtedly still prove the reliable workhorse it is renowned for.

They're not designed as Chelsea tractors or fashion accessories and the fact that their predominant use is rural is mighty strong evidence that they are rather well-built machines.

This is underlined by the fact that the new model will only be available in the UK as an oil-burner.

It will be marketed at the same price as the outgoing model but with around £3,000 of extras included.

The new version is modestly described as a "facelift" but, with 75 per cent new parts, it's a bit more than some minor cosmetic surgery.

We were given the unique opportunity to put the new Shogun through its paces at Sidbury Hill on Salisbury Plain, while some surprised members of the British Army trained around us before heading for Afghanistan.

And it certainly acquitted itself well. While tanks thundered through the seriously battered landscape around us (and, I suspect, chased us for a bit of "sport"), the Shogun handled the chasms and trenches diligently, if a little slower than its monstrous cousins.

By choosing careful angles of attack, worryingly deep ruts could be slowly crossed and deep, treacherous mud pools were comfortably forded.

The slightly bigger new Shogun is quieter, more refined and more comfortable both on and off the road.

Standard equipment on the basic Equippe model now includes climate control, keyless entry, ISO FIX, a CD/tuner with MP3 and a trip computer with compass, barometer and altimeter.

The higher spec Warrior and Elegance models add bigger alloys, cruise control, leather upholstery, powered and heated seats and the stunning Rockford music centre/DVD sat-nav system.

This includes a 30gb hard drive which can play and record CDs simultaneously so you only need to take them in the car once, a seven-inch touch-screen display, outputs a mighty 860 watts through 12 speakers and even provides 5.1 channel home theatre sound for those watching DVDs.

It cruises more than happily at 7mph or 70mph, depending on how it's earning its crust, and is available only with a revised 3.2-litre common rail diesel.

This unit produces between 158bhp and 168bhp and more than 275lb/ft of torque and can return a respectable 30.7mpg combined.

There's a good price span for the new Shogun, from £22,549 for the three-door SWB Equippe model to £34,599 for the five-door Diamond LWB.

The SWB commercial is £19,439.