New car road test: Mitsubishi ASX | Derby Telegraph

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Mitsubishi ASX

New car road test: Mitsubishi ASX

By Derby Telegraph | Posted: June 13, 2013

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The Mitsubishi ASX is the compact crossover that you probably left off your shortlist. Does the latest improved version deserve your attention? Andy Enright reports.

BACKGROUND

Market economics being what they are, it’s often a very fine line between a winner and an also-ran. Take Mitsubishi’s ASX for example. In the hotly-contested crossover market, it was always one of the better cars, yet never returned decent sales, in the UK at least. Why?

Simply because you could buy better cars for less, so people did. The ASX didn’t actually need very much doing to lever it back into contention and remains a really smart used car pick, so Mitsubishi has regrouped, taken a look at the car, and improved it.

Is it enough to punt it back into contention? Mitsubishi will never have the promotional budget of a Ford or Vauxhall. Instead, it relies on industry plaudits and word of mouth to do a lot of the legwork for it.

Is the ASX good enough to generate this groundswell of opinion? Let’s have a closer look at Mitsubishi’s proposition.

DRIVING EXPERIENCE

Not a whole lot has changed in the drivetrain department. The rear multi-link suspension has been mildly retuned to offer better ride quality and body control, but aside from that, the engines and transmissions have been carried over from the original version. Is that a problem? Not really. The petrol engine option is a 1.6-litre 115bhp unit with MIVEC variable valve-timing technology.

It’s offered exclusively with the front-wheel-drive transmission and generates 154Nm of torque at 4,000rpm.

Most opt for the 1.8-litre DiD diesel, which packs 114bhp and 300Nm of torque from 3,500rpm. That’s a lot of grunt for a unit of this size and there’s no shortage of technology behind it. The engine is of all-aluminium construction with common-rail injection.

It’s a little gruff but undeniably effective and is offered in both front- or four-wheel-drive guise with a six-speed manual gearbox in place of the petrol’s five-speed gearbox. It replaces the 148bhp diesel that the ASX was launched with and, while this engine’s meagre 114bhp can’t match the performance of its predecessor, it offers much lower carbon dioxide emissions, which is often an easier sell these days.

DESIGN BUILD

The ASX was always a fairly handsome thing with its Evo-look front end and the styling updates to the latest car preserve that basic feel while sharpening up some of the detailing. The front has been toned down a bit with a more subtle grille treatment that mirrors the family look sported by cars like the Mirage supermini. The rear bumper has been refreshed, making the back of the car a bit more assertive than before.

There’s also a chrome accent for the doors, which gives it a slightly more upmarket look.

The interior was always the original ASX’s weakest link and, although this model features revised upholstery, the basic architecture of the dashboard and the materials used haven’t changed greatly. You do now get a push button instead of a rotary dial to switch into four-wheel-drive mode but the changes are subtle.

Rear passengers have a good amount of legroom and headroom but there are no individual sliding seats, as found in some rivals. Fold the 60/40 split bench and you free up to 1,193 litres of boot space, a lot better than a Qashqai but nowhere near the 1,436 litres of the Hyundai ix35. A capacity of 442 litres with the seats in place isn’t the best in class but will probably be sufficient for most owners.

MARKET MODEL

Pricing opens at around £15,500 and stretches up to nearly £25,000. The trim levels have been revised, although Mitsubishi do this so often it may well be worth checking on the company’s website to ensure I’m up to speed on this score. The range opens with the ASX Attivo petrol-engined model. This gets Bluetooth mobile phone preparation, a CD stereo with MP3 compatibility, seven airbags, hill start assist, plus stability and traction control.

All models get alloy wheels, air-conditioning, electric windows and keyless go. There are also 2, 3, 4, 4Work and the range-topping 4 Black models to consider. You’ll need to fork out nearly £23,000 to get yourself in an all-wheel-drive diesel in 3 trim, which might well be the pick of the range.

How does it fare as a value proposition? Not too badly actually. The Nissan Qashqai is probably its closest rival in terms of appeal and capability and this costs nearly £2,000 more for a four-wheel-drive diesel version.

You may well be able to carve a bit more off the Mitsubishi’s price than you would the Nissan’s with a bit of determined negotiation.

COST OF OWNERSHIP

The one change that will have escaped most buyers is the fact that Mitsubishi now offers the ASX with a lower-power, low-emission 1.8-litre diesel engine. While its 0-60 time isn’t going to be as punchy as the 148bhp unit we had become used to, it can return 54.3 mpg and emits from 136g/km of CO2 with a front-wheel-drive chassis. More impressive, though, is that fact that if you go for the 4WD model, economy is almost the same and CO2 returns are only marginally worse at 138g/km.

Lower-mileage drivers might prefer to stick to the affordable 1.6-litre petrol engine, which will also return decent economy as long as you’re not heaving some serious weight about with it. Here you’re looking at 139g/km, which is barely any worse than the diesels, and a combined economy figure of 47.1mpg. For £15,500, this suddenly seems quite the bargain.

SUMMARY

Mitsubishi’s latest ASX gets subtly revised styling, engineering tweaks and interior upholstery changes, but to be frank, perhaps it needed more extensive updates to make more of an impact on these shores, where it’s not a big seller.

For all that, if you get yourself the right deal on this car, it’ll make a really sensible choice if you’re thinking of a soft-roading RAV4-style compact SUV or a Qashqai-like crossover. The ASX does good business worldwide and will continue to do so. This upgrades means it deserves wider recognition here.

CONTACT DETAILS

Visit Holt Mitsubishi at 998 London Road, Alvaston (DE24 8QA), or call 01332 861100.

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