2012 MITSUBISHI ASX REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Compact SUV
Price: $32,490 (plus on-road costs)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 5.9 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 7.4 l/100km
Two engines are offered, a 2.0 litre naturally aspirated petrol and a 1.8 litre turbodiesel. Thanks to its strong torque, the diesel is the powertrain to have in the ASX - although the absence of an automatic transmission for the oiler hurts its appeal somewhat.
INTERIOR | RATING: 3.5
Quality: A soft-touch dash and door trims give the ASX a nicer cabin ambience than the Lancer, and build quality is good. The cargo cover tended to rattle on rough roads though.
Comfort: The highish seating position affords a good view of the road ahead, the leather-bound steering wheel is comfortable to hold and the gear-lever falls easily to hand.
The cloth-trimmed front seats are well cushioned but don’t give much lateral support, and there’s no adjustable lumbar support.
Back seat comfort is fine for short to medium-length trips, but the flat backrest is far from ideal. The absence of face level A/C vents for the rear passengers could be an issue on hot days too.
Equipment: The 4WD diesel ASX gets cruise control, climate control, a trip computer, reverse parking sensors, foglamps, 17-inch alloys, an auto-dimming rear view mirror and a reversing camera.
The four-speaker audio system features USB connectivity and iPod integration, and Bluetooth telephony is standard.
Storage: The boot measures in at 416 litres with the seats raised and 1193 with them folded flat. Not exceptional numbers for a crossover, but enough for a pram and some shopping.
A couple of storage cubbies to either side of the boot floor help keep smaller items from bouncing around, and the lidded centre console box and glovebox are fairly sizable.
ON THE ROAD | RATING: 3.5
Driveability: While the 2.0 litre petrol engine struggles to deal with the ASX’s 1.4-tonne bulk, the 1.8 litre turbodiesel is a far more relaxed performer.
Its 110kW power output matches the petrol, but its 300Nm peak torque figure gives it a lot more muscle.
Apply the throttle and there’s a hefty pause while the turbo spins up, but once you’ve adjusted to the turbo lag the diesel ASX is extremely easy to live with.
Low-end torque is plentiful and it’s more than happy to be lugged around at low rpms on level ground, but you’ll need more than 1800rpm on the dial in higher gears when tackling a steep hill.
There is also quite a large gap between first and second gear, making second feel a tad lifeless in normal driving.
Yes, it’s only available with a six-speed manual. We suspect that will be a turn-off for many Aussie buyers. Still, it’s a nice manual to use thanks to its clearly defined shift gate, well-positioned shifter and light, precise clutch.
Refinement: There’s a bit of diesel clatter that makes its way through the firewall and into the cabin, but you’re probably far more likely to notice the prominent whooshes and whistles that are emitted by the turbocharger.
Tyre roar, like in the Outlander, is pretty noticeable on coarser country secondary roads, but wind noise is low, with just a hint around the A-pillars and wing mirrors.
Suspension: A soft suspension tune makes the ASX an ideal suburban runabout and quite comfortable on the highway.
Ride comfort over potholes, expansion gaps and other obstacles is good, and the tall sidewalls of the Dunlop tyres provide some additional isolation from road imperfections.
It’s also reasonably capable off the tarmac.
Good wheel travel and the ability to lock the AWD drivetrain in 4WD mode gives the ASX decent grip on gravel and dirt.
However, the lack of low range gearing, a not-quite-tall-enough ride height and road-biased tyres mean more challenging off-roading is off the adventure menu.
Braking: The ASX’s all-disc braking system works smoothly and responds quickly.
ANCAP rating: 5 Star
Safety features: The ASX has seven airbags (front, front side, driver's knee and curtain), three-point seatbelts, ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control and stability control as standard.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five year/130,000km vehicle warranty, and a ten year/160,000km powertrain warranty.
Service costs: Servicing costs are capped for the first 60,000km of ownership, and service intervals occur every 15,000km or 12 months.
The first service costs $250, with subsequent services costing $350. This makes the diesel ASX substantially more expensive to maintain than the petrol model, which costs just under $200 per service.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY:
Subaru Forester 2.0D ($36,490) - A consistent strong-seller in the compact SUV market, the Forester is roomier and its 108kW/350Nm 2.0 litre turbodiesel flat four has more torque than the ASX’s 1.8 diesel.
It’s more expensive though, and its on-road dynamics are nothing to write home about. (see Forester reviews)
Suzuki Grand Vitara DDiS ($34,990): With a low-range transfer case and proper four-wheel drive, the Grand Vitara is for those who are more serious about “getting away from it all”.
It’s ageing in terms of its design and technology, and the interior is small. The lack of an automatic option blunts its appeal too. (see Grand Vitara reviews)
Nissan X-Trail TS ($35,990) - It’s getting quite long in the tooth, but the X-Trail is still a popular choice due to its size and capabilities.
With 127kW and 360Nm coming from its 2.0 litre turbodiesel, the X-Trail TS is the most powerful of this bunch. Also, unlike the rest of its Japanese competitors there’s an automatic transmission in the range.
It costs a few grand more than the ASX, but you get more car for your money with the X-Trail. (see Nissan X-Trail reviews)
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
By packing some turbodiesel grunt under the bonnet, Mitsubishi has an appealing and versatile small wagon-cum-hatch in its ASX soft-roader.
It’s an enjoyable car to drive as a result, and more than capable of some light-duty off-roading.
But besides the lack of an automatic transmission, its one major shortcoming is its size.
While the ASX is roomy enough for a couple, if you’re looking for a compact SUV that a young family can ‘grow into’ then you’re better off looking at cars like the Forester or X-Trail.