Sporting a new face, does Mitsubishi’s midsize ASX crossover have what it takes to challenge the impressive competition?
The entry-level midsize SUV/crossover market in South Africa is hotly contested. With every passing month, a slew of new offerings is introduced, all with the hopes of luring buyers looking for practicality and a bit of style. Mitsubishi’s ASX recently received a facelift.
Introduced as far back as 2010, the ASX has enjoyed moderate success in South Africa; the compact SUV regularly appears on local roads. However, since it was first tested by CAR in December 2011, the ASX has remained relatively unchanged for the best part of a decade. Still, the latest update has given it a more modern, attractive front-end. Sporting Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield design language, the crossover shares a resemblance with the rest of the range. The ASX manages to look more upmarket than before with updated LED taillamps doing their best to freshen up the rear styling, paired with a new 18-inch alloy wheel design.
Inside, the ASX offers moderate levels of space. While shorter drivers will easily find a comfortable driving position, taller testers lamented the fact that the electrically adjusted driver’s seat does not sink low enough. Rear headroom is compromised due to the sloping roofline and standard fixed panoramic roof. Rear legroom, however, is on par with rivals’ measurements and an average-sized adult sits comfortably. The rear bench can accommodate a set of child seats; however, tight door openings make fitting these items somewhat tricky.
A capacious boot swallows a pair of large suitcases for a weekend getaway and, thanks to the low loading sill, lifting them into the space is a doddle. The rear seats fold down with ease, creating 880 litres of utility space.
From behind the wheel, the ASX feels superbly put together, with a real sense of robust quality throughout. As with many cars in the segment, there are some hard plastics. In the Mitsubishi, they feel solid and there is liberal use of soft-touch plastics on the upper part of the facia. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is adjustable for rake and reach. Its silky hide adds a premium feel to the cabin and complements the same trim on the seats. Both driver and passenger enjoy chair heating, although the latter has to make do with manual adjustment.
There are several other welcome standard features, including automatic headlamps, wipers and climate control. Slip it into reverse via the old-school gated gearlever, and the reverse camera is activated, assisted by rear parking sensors. Despite being packed with features, Mitsubishi’s eight-inch-touchscreen infotainment system can lag and has ageing graphics. Still, screen-mirroring is standard, along with the usual Bluetooth, USB and aux-in options.
Prod the starter button and the 2,0-litre, four-cylinder powertrain idles smoothly and quietly. The ASX’s engine feels up to the task when commuting, producing 110 kW of power and 197 N.m of torque. During modest throttle inputs, the CVT keeps the engine revs to a minimum, making for hushed progress. That said, the naturally aspirated four-pot makes itself heard under harsh acceleration. Performance isn’t blistering but, on our test strip, the ASX achieved a 100-120 km/h acceleration time of 4,45 seconds, allowing for safe overtaking.
Once up to speed, the ASX impresses with its loping ride and capable handling characteristics. Despite raised bodywork, the electrically assisted steering is well weighted. Push the ASX into a corner and it responds with less body lean than expected.
While the Mitsubishi recorded a “good” stopping-time average of 3,18 seconds from 100 km/h, the CVT-equipped SUV exhibits a worrying trait. Much like the Eclipse Cross, the ASX hesitates to accelerate after an emergency stop. The revs build with very little forward movement until a few seconds later when normal operation resumes. This could be a problem in an evasive manoeuvre.
Fuel economy is not the ASX’s forte, either: the Japanese carmaker claims a rather high average of 7,90 L/100 km. Although we managed to match that on our 100 km route, it is still some way behind the figures achieved by various rivals, particularly those utilising smaller-capacity, turbo engines.
Comprehensive the ASX’s facelift may have been, but it competes with newer vehicles offering more performance, space and economy. Springing to mind are Suzuki's Vitara 1,4 Turbo as well as Volkswagen’s excellent T-Cross.
However, there is an appeal to the ASX’s fuss-free demeanour. The engine may not be the last word in frugal fuel economy or refinement but should be reliable, while the well-equipped and -built cabin seems impervious to most forms of abuse. Add impressive rolling refinement and comfort, and the ASX still makes a case for itself as a car to own for many years to come.
ROAD TEST SCORE
See Full Mitsubishi ASX price and specs here