Mitsubishi's top-selling SUV – the ASX – has joined its larger siblisngs Outlander and Pajero Sport by adopting the latest front-end style featuring the corporate 'Dynamic Sheild' grille enhanced with gloss-black and chrome highlights.
That new pointy-end and some other minor tweaks comprise a package expected to be the last update before an all-new ASX model range is unveiled later this year.
Vehicle Style: Small SUV
Price: $26,990 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 110kW/197Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol | CVT automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.4l/100kms | Tested: 10.6l/100kms
It’s a fact that the Mitsubishi ASX was Australia’s number two best-selling small SUV last year which, given the calibre of rivals, is a significant achievement. While some new players in the segment have now shaded the ASX on price, the consensus is Mitsubishi has hit the nail on the head for package size as the ASX delivers family-friendly interior space and comfort while maintaining reasonably compact exterior dimensions.
The fresh front-end styling headlines the most recent ASX model update with the only other notable inclusions being the roof-mounted shark-fin antenna and new cloth trim with red highlights.
Mitsubishi ASX kicks-off with the LS model front-wheel-drive five speed manual for $24,990 (plus on-road costs). TMR tested the automatic version which adds $2,000.
Petrol power comes from Mitsubishi’s 110kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder.
Turbo-diesel models are exclusively all-wheel-drive with prices starting at $31,990 (plus on-road costs) for the LS 4x4.
- Standard Equipment: Cloth seats, climate-control air-conditioning, cruise control, two ISOFIX child seat mounts
- Infotainment: Four-speaker audio with 6.1-inch colour touchscreen, DAB radio, USB input, iPod control, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming with voice control
- Cargo Volume: 393-litres (rear seat in-place)
The infusion of red elements for the cloth seat trim inside the Mitsubishi ASX LS certainly delivers an improved look over the previous generation’s grey-on-grey hues.
Otherwise it’s the same familiar ASX interior – nice twin gauges angled towards the driver, 6.1-inch colour touchscreen for the audio atop the centre stack and a handsome three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel with piano black and chrome highlights.
Climate control (three round dials) is placed under the infotainment screen and cupholders are plentiful for front seat occupants.
The driving environment gets the thumbs-up with plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustments (rake and reach) delivering a comfortable position. Those in the rear enjoy surprisingly plentiful legroom and there is cargo space which must go close to being best-in-class.
Thumbs-down however for the lack of rear seat air-vents and the cabin plastics which look and feel down-market (contrasting sharply with the upscale look of the steering wheel).
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol – 110kW at 6000rpm/197Nm at 4200pm
- Transmission: CVT automatic, front wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link independent rear
- Steering: Electric power steering, 10.6-metre turning circle
- Brakes: Four-wheel discs
While the output of the Mitsubishi’s 2.0-litre engine is on-par with rivals, the ASX, at 1365kgs, tips the scales 139kgs heavier than say the equivalent Mazda CX-3 Maxx (1226kgs) and this probably accounts for performance which by comparison feels noticeably lethargic.
Same for fuel consumption. While we averaged 10.6l/100kms in a week of mixed urban and rural driving, we frequently saw numbers north of 12.6l/100kms around the city.
Likewise ride and handling (139kgs is the equivalent of nearly two full-size adults) is where the ASX delivered plenty of body-roll in corners. Steering response was acceptable but feedback through the steering wheel in our test car felt oddly uneven.
Grip levels were good but there was certainly some tyre noise on coarse chip road surfaces.
In fact the tyre noise spoilt what was otherwise impressive refinement in the Mitsubishi ASX. Not surprisingly for a vehicle which has been around through a few generations, engineers have continuously tweaked body, chassis and suspension so there is excellent isolation from outside noise, little wind noise and good suppression of bumps and potholes.
And we do compliment Mitsubishi for the CVT automatic in the ASX. Again this isn’t the newest or best CVT available but it has been nicely engineered over time so it is more responsive and less intrusive than some we’ve driven.
ANCAP Rating: 5 stars - The Mitsubishi ASX scored 34.13 out of 37 possible points in 2016 based on ANCAP data obtained in 2010.
Safety Features: Seven airbags (including driver kneebag), ABS anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Emergency Brake Assist System and Emergency Stop Signal Function, traction and stability control, hill-start assist, reverse parking sensors, reversing camera
WARRANTY AND SERVICE
Warranty: Five years/100,000kms
Service: Service intervals 15,000kms or 12 months (whichever comes first) with capped-price servicing ($230 per service) for the first 45,000kms/three years
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
Mazda CX-3 is Australia’s best-selling compact SUV. Prices actually start as low as $19,990 (plus on-road costs) and in fact the well-equipped mid-grade CX-3 Maxx automatic at $24,390 undercuts the ASX LS automatic by $2600. While the ASX probably shades the CX-3 on interior space, the Mazda looks sharp, has better driving dynamics and is more refined.
Honda HR-V sells well because it’s good. The VTi at $24,990 (plus on-road costs) has a $2,000 price advantage over the Mitsubishi ASX LS automatic. Nicely styled, an upmarket feel for the practical interior, better refinement and nice on-road dynamics are all plus points for the Honda in this comparison.
You’ll need $28,490 (plus on-road costs) for the Nissan Qashqai ST automatic which, thanks to generous equipment levels, is considered the best-buy of the Qashqai lineup. Sourced from Nissan’s British plant, the Qashqai is all quality, handsomely styled, has oodles of interior space and drives nicely.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
It’s all action in the compact SUV segment globally and, to be honest, in this league the Mitsubishi ASX is carrying a Senior’s Card.
Perfect time to buy then? Score the last of this generation at a bargain price? Unfortunately that’s not the case as the ASX LS 2WD automatic is more expensive than the top-selling Mazda CX-3 and the Honda HR-V.
To counter that argument, the ASX does have more interior space and standard equipment than some in this segment.
Our advice: if you’re keen on an ASX, brush-up on your negotiating skills, see your nearest Mitsubishi dealer and start haggling…you might do much better than the recommended retail price.
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