2012 Mitsubishi ASX 4WD Review
Vehicle Style: Compact SUV
Fuel Economy (claimed): 8.1 l/100 km
Fuel Economy (tested): 9.0 l/100 km
In that increasingly-blurred space between hatch and SUV there’s a thriving category of compact cross-overs. They provide the space and high-riding visibility of their bigger brothers, with the ease-of-use of a small hatch.
The result is a city suitable, escape-ready, and 'easy to live with' little AWD wagon.
Quality: It's a modern interior with soft-touch dash and doors. It's logical and well laid-out, which is refreshing; overall, plastics quality is top notch.
In the back of the cabin we encountered a few rattles from the luggage-bay trims, but seat and trim materials seem robust enough and built to last.
Comfort: With its raised ride-height, sliding into the ASX is easy, and, once at the helm, getting the balance between seat and steering wheel is simple.
Seats are firm but supportive over long distances and the commanding road-view makes the ASX feel solid and spacious.
Rear seat room is fair, but the tightest dimension is width. Three younger kids or two adults won’t complain, but three teens with be packed in tight.
Equipment: Standard kit includes leather steering wheel and gear lever, multi-function steering wheel buttons, cruise control, 16-inch alloy wheels, trip computer and a four-speaker stereo with MP3 single CD player and USB and 35mm inputs.
Storage: The boot provides 416 litres of deep storage with the seatbacks up and 1193 with the rear seat folded. Both the centre console and glovebox are roomy too, with plenty of cup and bottle holders up front.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Despite its compact looks, the 2.0 litre engine, producing 110kW of power and 197Nm of torque, struggles to push the ASX’s not-unsubstantial 1440kg around with any vigour.
The engine also feels hampered by the CVT transmission which tries to keep revs low to the benefit of fuel economy, but can be slow to react when overtaking or merging into highway traffic.
That said, Mitsubishi’s experience with stepless transmissions shows. This is one of the better CVT driving experiences on the market without so much of the droning associated with this type of set-up.
Where the ASX surprises though is its ability on unmade surfaces. Over a course of mud and gravel we found the ASX at the top of the soft-roader pack with its selectable all-wheel-drive system in constant four-wheel-drive mode.
Refinement: At highway speeds the ASX is smooth and quiet enough, but does betray a bit of wind-noise whistling around the mirrors and through the windscreen wiper arms.
There are no qualms about the CVT transmission which is seamless and smooth and well-matched to the equally smooth engine (that only begins to get vocal high in the rev-range).
Suspension: The fully independent suspension with MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear end is softly sprung, it is supremely comfortable for long-legged touring and also around town.
Braking: Four wheel disc brakes provide smooth and secure stops and cope well with the weight of the ASX.
ANCAP rating: Five stars.
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: Service costs are capped for the first 60,000km. Each 15,000km/12 month service costs $195.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Nissan Dualis Ti ($32,190) - With close-matching 2.0 litre four cylinder engines and CVT transmissions, the Dualis and ASX have their pistols drawn in standoff. While the ASX is the better drive, the Dualis is better-featured with leather trim, keyless start, 18-inch wheels, and climate control. (see Dualis reviews)
Hyundai ix35 Elite ($32,490) - Hyundai’s mid-range AWD offers more adventurous styling inside and out, a higher grade interior, plus a 2.4 litre engine and (better) conventional six-speed automatic. (see ix35 reviews)
Kia Sportage SLi petrol ($32,720) - Kia’s Sportage is fast proving popular in the compact SUV segment.
With 130kW and 227Nm, the Sportage’s 2.4 litre petrol engine outguns the ASX for both power and torque, and the Kia’s interior and exterior styling is a cut above the rest. (see Sportage reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The city-friendly ASX is pragmatic buying for couples or young families looking for a light versatile small wagon.
It lacks a little of the first-impression flair of some of its competitors, and is not best in class, but is solidly built, comfortable and easy to pilot around - whether on city streets or on a country run.