The skinny: Mitsubishi's ASX has been around in its current generation since 2010. Its age is showing, but that hasn't slowed it in the showroom.
With a reasonable 110kW and 197Nm of torque from its 2.0 litre petrol engine, it's no sports hatch, but quick enough - although the CVT transmission makes things a bit more liesurely.
We like its good ride, tuned more for comfort than dynamics, its solid build and the long feature list that includes a reversing camera and rear sensors.
Keen pricing obviously has a part to play in its appeal, it is good buying at $26,990 (plus), but its popularity can’t be attributed to that entirely.
Vehicle Style: Compact SUV
Price: $26,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 110kW/197Nm 2.0 petrol 4cyl | CVT automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.4 l/100km | tested: 8.8 l/100km
But while those models have been kicking goals, there’s one model that’s been a true 'quiet achiever' - the Mitsubishi ASX. It’s outselling the Mazda, Honda and the Nissan this year.
It’s no spring chicken, but it’s proved to be an attractive proposition with buyers regardless. We took the base model LS 2WD petrol automatic for a week-long spin to find out where the allure lies.
- Standard features: Cruise control, climate control, power windows, reversing camera, reverse parking sensors, 18-inch alloy wheels,
- Infotainment: 7-inch colour touchscreen audio headunit, Bluetooth phone and audio integration, DAB+ digital radio tuner
- Storage: 416 litres minimum.
Besides a new steering wheel knicked from the Outlander’s parts bin, there’s not a whole lot of visual differentiation between this car and last year’s model.
There’s also a digital radio as standard, a new inclusion and a rarity in this segment - especially for a base model like the ASX LS tested here.
However, this is far from the most welcoming cabin around. Plastic quality isn’t amazing and there are plenty of hard plastics to knock your knees against (though all armrests are trimmed in cushioned fabric).
There are however a couple of pluses to this interior: it feels a smidge more spacious than a lot of its competitors, and reversing sensors and a reversing camera are standard.
And there are the usual SUV traits that attract buyers to cars like the ASX - namely good forward vision thanks to an elevated seating position, plus ease of entry and egress.
The boot is certainly one of the most commodious. With 416 litres of cargo volume with the rear seats raised, the ASX can cart substantially more stuff than the Trax, EcoSport and CX-3.
Only the Qashqai and HR-V best it for cargo capacity, and the former is a notably bigger car overall.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 110kW/197Nm 2.0 petrol inline four
- Transmission: CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
- Brakes: Ventilated discs front, solid discs rear
- Steering: Electrically-assisted, 10.6m turning circle
With 110kW of power, 197Nm of torque and a fairly flaccid CVT taking power to the front wheels, the ASX isn’t the zippiest thing around.
A petrol-powered CX-3 feels far more lively, and the constant ratio-shuffling of the ASX’s CVT doesn’t endow it with the sportiest feel either. Add people and/or cargo to the ASX’s payload, and it feels truly lazy.
It’s not a segment-leader for driveability, then. Fuel economy claims of 7.4 l/100km on the combined cycle aren’t stellar either, and our real-world result of 8.8 l/100km was even less impressive.
It’s also a little underwhelming dynamically, but, you know what? None of that really matters.
Its roly-poly chassis delivers decent on-road comfort (even on the now-standard 18-inchers), the steering is light and responsive, and that dull drivetrain makes urban driving a doddle. If you want driving to be the simplest experience possible, the ASX makes it so.
Sometimes, for the daily grind, if we're doing it in a little comfort, and in a solid, roomy, well-built car, that's as much as any of us need.
As a result, the ASX’s on-road shortfalls aren’t quite as big a handicap as some might think. The only thing we can really mark it down for is fuel economy - for a 1300kg car, it can definitely be thriftier.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 34.13 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control, stability control, six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain). Rear parking sensors and a reversing camera are standard.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The ASX’s trump card is its value equation. $26,990 for a roomy auto-equipped small SUV is a decent deal, and Mitsubishi’s five-year/130,000km warranty and five years of free roadside assistance sweetens the deal.
Honda’s HR-V is the fly in the ointment though, given its more modern fit-out, better ride, roomy boot and more versatile interior. At $24,990 for the base automatic, it’s a formidable threat to the ASX.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Time is nearly up for the ASX, and though it’s showing more than a few wrinkles, that hasn't deterred buyers.
It’s not hard to understand why. With the LS auto priced right in the middle of the $20k bracket, it offers everything you need and nothing that you don’t. Its adequacy is its core appeal.
Sure, you can look to the XLS for a few more mod-cons (and the option of a diesel engine and AWD), but the LS is best buy of the range.
It’s not an exciting car by any means, but as far as small SUVs go it’s perfectly suited to the daily grind.