For such an unassuming character, the Mitsubishi ASX sure has a faithful following. Regularly in the top three of the compact SUV segment, the ASX is a tried and trusty performer with its lack of airs and graces winning it a legion of followers.
Offered in both diesel and petrol, manual and automatic, front-wheel and all-wheel drive, the ASX range extends from $25,000 to $37,000 and offers a fair bit of bang for your buck.
It is sturdy and comfortable, spacious with quality features and adapts well to singles, families and older couples.
We spent a week in the ASX XLS, the top-of-the range petrol.
A new chrome grille and bumper are about the sum of the exterior changes for this ASX which presents an overall design that tends to be more unruffled than head-turningly spectacular. It opts for a more boxy experience than some competitors who are all sloping roofs and sharp lines which interestingly is one of the things that endears it to buyers.
On the inside, aside from revised trim, the ASX looks pretty much the same as it did four years ago. It feels spacious and roomy, because it is, with more room than most compact SUVs for longer legs and wide shoulders.
The dash, uncluttered and functional, features large dials for the air, easily readable instrumentation and a nicely integrated infotainment system. Our XLS had a leather-wrapped steering wheel to match the seats, which incidentally are pretty comfortable but could do with a bit of lateral support.
Plastics can be well, plasticky, and fairly hard in places but fit is good with nary a rattle even on harsher secondary roads.
The rear seat offers comfortable enough lodgings with good headroom for taller passengers and sufficient knee room without the driver having to be overly accommodating. It is a bit light on features back there though with a couple of cupholders in the centre armrest but no bottle holders in the door or air vents.
The boot, one of the best in class, will hold 393 litres, more with the 60:40 seats folded down. They don’t sit quite flat and the seat belts stay in place but will happily accommodate a bicycle if you need to.
Mitsubishi are generous with the standard inclusions with our test car boasting smart keyless entry and push button start, auto wipers and headlights, panoramic roof, heated front seats, sat nav and reverse camera.
A 7.0-inch colour touchscreen offers access to very usable infotainment system. There are buttons too should you prefer to navigate that way as well as iPod and Bluetooth connectivity. No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto though which can be a tad frustrating.
While it is simple enough to pair your phone and use voice control, the sound quality can vary and it is not unusual for it to drop out at times.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The ASX is offered in either a 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel in all-wheel-drive or a 2.0-litre petrol available in FWD only. The latter is paired with either a five-speed manual or continuously variable automatic while the diesel is offered with a six-speed conventional auto.
A five-star ANCAP rating equates in practical terms to seven airbags, electronic stability and traction control, emergency stop signal, hill start assist, reverse parking sensors and emergency brake assist.
Given that it is a seven-year-old model at its core, it misses out on safety features we have come to expect at this price point including blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking available in competitors like the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR.
With the ASX, it is pretty much a case of what you see is what you get. Ride and handling are good with reassuring refinement marred just slightly by tyre roar at higher speeds. It is composed and confident over all but the most challenging of bumps and settles down easily even on irregular surfaces.
The ASX is happy to go along its way, pretty easy to manoeuvre around town and adept on longer rides too once you get the speed up. It leans noticeably into bends if you chose to corner quickly but the steering is reasonably responsive offering gentle but mostly accurate feedback.
The ASX shows its age a bit when it comes to power delivery and has to be persuaded a touch before it warms to the task. There is a frustratingly dead spot between 1750rpm – 2200rpm which can catch you out should you need to accelerate quickly but you will find the car more responsive once you pass that hurdle.
The CVT is one of the better ones around, easily directing changes, droning a bit to remind that it is there perhaps.
Fuel consumption is a claimed 7.6L/100km and our week returned figures closer to 9.4L/100km with a mix of urban and highway driving.
Warranty is five years 100,000 kilometres with four years free roadside assist and three years capped-price servicing. Service intervals are at 12 months or 15,000km.
The Mitsubishi ASX may be showing its age a bit but still offers good value with great inclusions, plenty of space and comfort and a reasonable drive. It is not as dynamic as some competitors nor does it have those driver assistance systems we would all like but it is no-fuss, willing and able and will happily go about the business of getting the job done. And that has appeal.
AT A GLANCE
Mitsubishi ASX XLS pricing and specifications: Price: from $31,500 (plus on-road costs) Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol Output: 110kW at 6000rpm and 197Nm at 4200rpm Transmission: CVT automatic, FWD Fuel: 7.6/100km (ADR Combined) Warranty: Five years 100,000 kilometres Safety Rating: Five Star ANCAP
WHAT WE LIKED:
WHAT WE DIDN’T:
Cheap plastics in some parts of cabin
Sluggish power delivery
Lack of driver aids