Mitsubishi ASX

30 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Mitsubishi ASX
Mitsubishi ASX

Mitsubishi ASX

Sunshine Coast, Qld

What we liked

Spacious interior

Generous equipment for the price

Powerful, tractable diesel

Not so much

Jumping castle suspension

Manual clutch underweight and oversensitive

Overall rating: 3.0/5.0

Engine/Drivetrain/Chassis: 3.0/5.0

Price, Packaging and Practicality: 4.0/5.0

Safety: 3.5/5.0

Behind the wheel: 3.0/5.0

X-factor: 3.0/5.0

— Addressing the baby gap

Mitsubishi’s ASX comes as yet more evidence that the SUV has settled into urban life. Following in the footsteps of Nissan’s Dualis and Hyundai’s ix35, it’s the latest compact SUV release whose inclusion of a 2WD-only base model suggests the sales pitch based on the romance of bush and outback is waning with the acceptance that such vehicles have their own virtues in city driving environments.

The ASX shares Mitsubishi’s GS platform with the Lancer and Outlander models. The company says the vehicle is designed to plug a gap between those two models. It’s a gap through which it was worried about losing potentially loyal customers to competitors serving up the softroader benefits of interior space and high riding position in a more compact, city-friendly exterior package.

The company’s research suggested it was vulnerable in this respect on two demographic fronts: urban couples with infants arrived or imminent and empty-nesters after a city lifestyle vehicle with a spot of bush capability when they needed it.

What they’ve come up with is a vehicle whose title stands for ‘Active Smart X-over’, designed to tempt not just SUV buyers but those looking at conventional compacts as well — Corolla, Mazda3, Hyundai i30 and the like.

PRICE AND EQUIPMENT

— Targeting value

The ASX reflects the heat of competition in this sector, with kit levels screaming value-for-money to all small car buyers. The base model ASX 2WD ($25,990) gets wheel-mounted cruise, climate control, seven airbags (front, side, full length curtain and driver’s kneebag), hill start assist, 16 inch alloys, trip computer, height- and reach-adjustable steering, four-speaker stereo with USB and auxiliary audio inputs, alarm. A six-step CVT transmission is a $2500 option.

Step up to the mid-spec ASX 4WD and the drivetrain option hits a fork in the road, allowing buyers to choose between the 2.0-litre petrol engine with CVT or the 1.8-litre turbodiesel with six-speed manual transmission for the same $31,990. But that’s it: at this level there’s no manual petrol model, and no auto for the oiler (yet — they’re working on it, but it’s probably 18 months away). This model gets Bluetooth 2.0 for mobile handsfree and audio streaming, wheel-mounted audio controls, reversing sensors, foglamps and a bit of extra chrome trim.

For those who want a petrol manual, most of the above comforts are available to 2WD buyers in an optional Convenience Pack for $500.

The topline ASX Aspire (pictured; $36,990 petrol CVT or diesel manual) adds 17-inch alloys, full leather (extending to door panels, fascia and console), powered driver’s seat adjustment, keyless ignition, auto headlamps and rain-sensing wipers, a nine-speaker CD/DVD Rockford Fosgate digital audio upgrade. Mitsubishi’s Multi-Communication System (MMCS) integrating audio, satnav and telephony systems with a 40GB HDD (15GB available for music storage) and a 7-inch screen connected to a reversing camera is standard, as is still more chrome.

Aspire customers can add a panoramic glass roof with power-operated 9solid0 interior blind for $800.

— Petrol or diesel

The ASX lineup comes with a choice of petrol or diesel power plants.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine is lifted straight from the Lancer. Mitsubishi’s claims of 7.7L/100km combined-cycle fuel efficiency and 181g/km CO2 emissions put the petrol ASX at the top of its class .

The 1.8-litre turbodiesel has been purpose developed for the vehicle since it first appeared as the Concept CX at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show. It claims class leadership on both fronts too — 5.9L/100km combined and 154g/km CO2.

The oiler is relatively sophisticated for its segment, with a variable geometry turbo helping minimise lag and maximise output. It’s helped on the latter front by variable valve timing inherited from Mitsubishi’s petrol powerplants.

Unusually, it matches the petrol engine’s peak power of 110kW (both at relatively high revs — 4000rpm for the diesel, 6000rpm for the petrol) while, as usual, considerably exceeding it for torque at lower revs — 300Nm at 2000rpm against 197Nm at 4200rpm.

4WD and Aspire models get Mitsubishi’s All Wheel Control (AWC) allowing drivers to switch via a console mounted rotary dial between front wheel drive for more economical driving in urban conditions and 4WD mode controlled through a viscous coupling centre diff.

It’s a sophisticated package for this end of the market, monitoring engine and road speeds, road conditions and driver inputs to vary the front/rear torque split moment to moment and pushing anything from 2-50 per cent of the twist through to the rear. A separately switchable 4WD Lock mode pushes the ASX to the premium end of its class for off-road ability.

Much of its underpinnings the ASX inherits from the Outlander. While the springs on the front MacPherson strut and rear multi-link suspension have been replaced and the stabiliser bar reduced reflecting a weight advantage of around 200kg, it retains its larger sibling’s 294 ventilated front and 302mm solid rear disc brakes, giving the smaller ASX a free gift of extra stopping potency.

Mitsubishi has updated the power steering package to include electrical assistance, removing its hydraulic predecessor’s incursion on engine efficiency.

— Outlander-lite

The ASX is essentially a truncated Outlander. But despite the fact that virtually all the truncation has taken place behind the rear axle, it’s surprisingly roomy offering 416 litres with the 60:40 split-fold rear seats up. Drop them and you can push this to 1193.

The rear seats don’t fold perfectly flat, and optional full-size spare raises the floor a little, but it remains highly useable space.

Rear passengers are well catered for with reasonable shoulder room and enough legroom with anyone but a Harlem Globetrotter up front. Plenty of height and fore-aft front seat adjustment combine with a reach and rake-adjustable wheel to make it easy to find a comfortable driving position.

Mitsubishi ASX

Mitsubishi’s claims to ‘soft touch’ interior materials are contestable, at least down the lower end of the range. ‘Soft touch-look’ might be a more accurate way to describe the matt-textured fascia material. Nevertheless, the ASX’s interior fit and finish put it up at the desirable end of its class.

Reflecting the ASX’s tilt towards conventional small hatch buyers, the company has put considerable effort into NVH reduction, with foam-filled pillars across the range and extra underfloor sound deadening in the Aspire.

— Seven-up

Safety kit is comprehensive across the ASX range, with every model getting seven airbags — dual front and front-side, full length curtains and a driver’s kneebag. The full active safety suite includes stability and traction control and antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist. Emergency stop warning lights activate during high-G braking.

Increasing preoccupation with pedestrian safety, particularly in Europe, has seen the company designing a centre fold into the ASX’s bonnet, putting more space between sheet metal and the engine beneath it, softening the landing for any unfortunate sent skyward by the front end. For those same peoples’ protection, the front fenders are made of plastic, which has the added benefit of being deformable enough to withstand low-speed impacts.

Corresponding with the ASX’s local launch crash testing confirmed the car has achieved a five-star rating.

— Tough segment

At the press launch, Mitsubishi was explicitly pitching the ASX’s comparative numbers against Nissan’s Dualis, Hyundai’s ix35 and Volkswagen’s Tiguan. But the potential field of competitors is far wider, arguably taking in 4WDs from Suzuki’s SX4 to Subaru’s Forester (and new high-ride Impreza variant) and Honda’s CR-V and the vast compact hatch market — arguably extending from the well-specced end of the littlie segment like the Ford Fiesta Zetec or Econetic through the aforementioned market-dominant Japanese and Korean models to base Euro hatches like Peugeot’s 308 and Volvo’s C30.

While there’s some overlap in its pricing range, which is designed to plug the gap between high-end Lancers and the base Outlander, the company is comfortable the ASX defines its own territory sufficiently not to cannibalise those models’ existing markets.

— All present and correct

Both engines are capable of shifting the ASX’s 1345-1525kg (depending on spec) along at a decent pace.

The CVT transcends much of its ilk in auto mode, with less of the groaning tones in evidence on acceleration. In manual mode, we got an entertaining rise out of it on the twists and undulations around Brisbane’s Mt Mee, particularly in third and fourth in paddle-equipped upspec models.

The paddles are mounted on the column rather than the wheel, but that’s forgivable — they’re more about convenience than performance in a relatively sedate machine like this. The transmission overrides the driver when the revs get high — some way before redline, in fact — but again, this isn’t a Ferrari.

Nothing evidences that more than how high you sit. Which is to say, high enough to be a problem for six-footers and over, particularly in the rear of an Aspire model with the glass roof, whose power assisted blind consumes a bit of headroom. This, it seems, is characteristic of the class — the ix35’s front seats feel like bar stools even at rock-bottom.

There’s plenty of fun to be had with the oiler, even if the throw on the manual shift isn’t the shortest in the field. It responds well to right foot commands

The suspension has more bounce than we might have liked. While the ASX sits reasonably composed through the bends, there’s a little more wallow and roll in evidence than is desirable when pushed. It has an adverse effect on the steering, which is a bit light and devoid of feel.

But with a 10.6m turning circle it feels relatively tight, giving the ASX a sense of having a shorter wheelbase than it has.

On the drive program’s relatively brief stretch of dirt, we only got a look into the 2WD CVT. This was bad in not giving us a crack at the four-paw model in its element, but good in that we’d already established the manual clutch pedal is made for tar — read: way too light and sensitive to be much chop when the going gets rough. My female travelling companion deemed it totally girly.

For a front-wheel drive it performed with aplomb on the soft surfaces.

Wind and road noise were manageable — the big exterior mirrors didn’t help, but their benefits in the urban traffic and carparks for which the ASX was conceived would undoubtedly override their shortcomings at speed.

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Published. Wednesday, 28 July 2010

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