Due to its need for plenty of revs, the Pinin can't really hack it as a tow car and struggles a little when pushed too hard. It is ideally suited to off-roading and more than capable at it, but you shouldn’t expect too much performance on motorways at high-speeds. The electronically-controlled Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engine in the five-door model sounds like a diesel unit when idling, but it’s quite lively on the move.
If you use the Pinin for what it was designed for it is an easier-to-manage version of the larger Shogun, but you must be prepared to sacrifice the added space of a bigger 4x4 in return for a more condensed vehicle.
Built to handle the rigours of off-road terrain, the Pinin has excellent stability, a low centre of gravity and great traction, but it is let down by its bouncy, low-speed ride on tarmac. Although the harsh suspension impedes the ride comfort, it increases handling confidence, whilst ensuring that the Pinin doesn’t lurch on speedy bends. Overall, the Pinin’s handling is not too bad and, even if it doesn’t compare to the rival RAV4, it will certainly hammer the Toyota in the mud.
The neat handling and tight 5.2 metre turning circle gives the Shogun Pinin great agility and enhanced driving confidence. Boosted by its great view, the height adjustable driver's seat - only available in the five-door model – guarantees comfort and improved driver safety. The simple dashboard is uninspiring, while the switchgear is randomly scattered and poorly thought out, although it is easier to get used to over time.
Those sat in the comfortable front seats benefit from sufficient room, but rear space is rather limited, even in the five-door version. Despite the Shogun Pinin being designed for five people, it comfortably accommodates four passengers, but one extra might be a bit of a squeeze, especially over lengthy journeys. The firm suspension is certainly beneficial off-road, but you pay the price inside the cabin, with the bouncy ride aggravating the overall driving experience.
On the whole, the interior ambience is fairly disappointing, although there is only a reasonable level of space that can be expected from a compacted off-roader.