The compact SUV was designed for people who could not decide between a family car and a four-wheel-drive, which explains why the other name for a compact SUV is crossover. As the name suggests, it is a cross between the aforementioned categories of cars.
The Mitsubishi ASX is one of a growing number of compact SUVs that have been introduced to meet the demand of this hugely popular segment. The ASX stands for “Active Sporty Crossover”, designed to take on the likes of Nissan Dualis, Volkswagen Tiguan and Mazda CX-5. It can be seen as an amalgamation of the Outlander and the Lancer, fitting neatly into the compact SUV sector.
The ASX comes in three variants: a base model 2.0 litre petrol 2WD, a higher spec 2.0 litre petrol 2WD Aspire and a 1.8-litre turbo diesel 4WD (as tested), with price ranging from A$24,990 to A$34,990.
Design & comfort
The ASX’s design is a like it or hate it affair. It is the latest Mitsubishi model to inherit the company’s trademark ‘A’ shaped grille, now prevalent on most of its models. The 2012 model year Mitsubishi ASX (as tested) also benefits from a mild facelift that includes a redesigned grille, refreshed front and rear bumper, revised headlight housing and tinted tail-light lens.
If you can look past the slightly out of proportion rear end, the ASX is a sporty compact SUV flanked by bold lines with short overhangs.
Hop inside and you will find a neat and uncluttered dashboard with everything where it should be. The full leather seats are comfortable and provide good support. There are ample useful storage compartments around the cabin for its five occupants. Rear leg room is surprisingly very spacious for a small SUV.
Handling & Performance
Often seen as a more rugged substitute for a family sedan, crossovers like the ASX is unlikely to see any real off road duty and most of its time will probably be spent in the urban jungle. This is reflected in the way the ASX rides. Its supple suspension and thick tyres soak up most ruts and bumps effectively.
Of course, the smooth ride comes at the expense of handling as the ASX exhibits a tad too much bodyroll around the bends. Steering response and feedback are also slightly lacking. On the plus side, the ASX’s excellent turning circle is most useful when navigating through tight city car parks and lane ways.
If you value ride comfort above handling and control, the ASX would be right up your alley.
The 1.8-litre turbo diesel engine churns out 110 kW at 4,000 rpm and 300 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm. Whilst the power figures look decent on paper, power delivery in the ASX is not linear. Below 2,000 rpm the ASX just ain’t going anywhere. Rev it up above 2,000 rpm though and you get an in rush of torque as the turbo kicks in.
The Aspire 4WD Diesel tested here is only offered with a six-speed manual transmission. Three drive modes are available to choose from – 2WD, 4WD Auto and 4WD Lock. During our week long test, the ASX was left mostly in 4WD Auto, which is also the default mode. In this mode, power is sent to the front wheels. When slip is detected the computer automatically shifts up to 50-percent of the power to the rear axle.
The ASX’s off road performance is commendable for a compact SUV. It is more than capable of navigating through the occasional dirt track or grass strip you come accross on your way to your picnic grounds. However, it does show its limit when the going gets tough, especially with the absent of auto off-road features such as hill-decent.
On the freeway, the ASX offers a smooth ride. The cabin is well insulated from the unpleasant diesel engine note but suffers from slight road and wind noise.
The interior of the ASX is a mix of quality soft touch plastics in the upper dashboard and doors, and cheap looking hard plastics in the lower part. Some of the buttons on the steering wheel also feel a little flimsy and the lower plastics will start to resonate when the stereo is cranked up.
Apart from that, the ASX’s cabin is solidly put together with good panel fitment and the doors shut with a reassuring ‘thud’. Not a bad effort from a manufacturer better known for its rally-bred car derivatives.
Being a diesel, the ASX has a great range from a single tank of fuel. Over the week long test with an equal split of city and freeway driving, the ASX managed to return a fuel consumption figure of 6.5l/100km. That’s not far off the advertised figure of 5.7l/100km.
Mitsubishi’s impeccable reliability history and class-leading 5 years / 130,000km new car warranty means servicing and running cost should be affordable.
The ASX undercuts many rivals by offering a host of standard features. The goodies include a 6.1-inch colour multi information display with reverse camera, CD/MP3 player, Bluetooth connectivity, iPod integration, interior mood lighting, cruise control, reverse parking sensors and climate control.
The Aspire models also come standard with full leather seats, keyless entry with push button start/stop, seat heater, moon roof, automatic rain sending wipers and automatic dusk sensing headlamps.
Considering the ASX’s short dimension, rear cargo space is slightly limited compared to its rivals, with just 416 litres. However, folding down the rear seats will increase cargo area to 1,109 litres.
All versions come with seven airbags, stability control, traction control, brake assist, anti-lock brakes and the reassurance of five-star ANCAP rating.
The Mitsubishi ASX is a family friendly compact SUV with a spacious interior, solid cabin, generous features, flawless reliability record and good all-round performance. The Aspire diesel 4WD would be the pick of the bunch for its strong diesel engine, good six-speed manual transmission and great fuel economy.
However, the ASX’s exterior and interior design trails other more elegant looking rivals such as the Nissan Dualis and Mazda CX-5.
|Price (Excl. On-roads):||From A$25,990 (2WD) to A$34,990 (Aspire 4WD Diesel/Petrol)|
|A$34,990 (As tested)|
|Engine:||2.0-litre MIVEC petrol, 4-cylinder (2WD, Aspire 4WD) 110kW@6,000rpm/ 197Nm@4,200rpm|
|1.8-litre turbo diesel, 4-cylinder (Aspire 4WD Diesel) 110kW@4,000rpm/ 300Nm@2,000rpm (As tested)|
|Transmission:||6-speed manual (As tested)|
|Dimensions:||Length: 4,295mm, Width: 1,770mm, Height: 1,615mm, Wheelbase: 2,670mm|
|Kerb Weight:||1,335 – 1,515kg|
Nissan Dualis, Holden Captiva 5, Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage, Hyundai ix35
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Car reviewed is based on Australian Specified model and may differ to that available in your country of residence.