The model year 13 update has improved on an already competent package that has remained a popular choice with Australians.
The Mitsubishi ASX small SUV has been a successful model for the Japanese company since its launch in 2010. It was conceived to compete in an ever-growing segment and despite the steady increase of competition over the last two years, the ASX has managed to maintain a respectable fifth position out of 13 candidates.
On sale for only around two years in Australia, the Mitsubishi ASX facelift comes earlier than some may have expected. This may have been a result of market feedback that suggested its original shape was too sharp and angular, or perhaps Mitsubishi has changed its tune and plans to do more regular updates. Either way, the refreshed Mitsubishi ASX range will go on sale in September and CarAdvice had a chance to drive the 2013 Mitsubishi ASX ahead of its official sale date.
From the outside the Mitsubishi ASX has never been the prettiest car on the road. One only has to admire what the French have managed todo with the Peugeot 4008 and Citroen C4 Aircross, which are both built by Mitsubishi and are essentially an ASX in a different body, to see what could be done if designers are given more freedom.
The updated ASX has been softened somewhat to broaden its appeal. The front presents more flowing lines and if you look close enough, you can easily spot more similarities to the 4008 now than ever before. The rear has also been blessed with a revised bumper but the position of the number plate high up on the belt-line is still detracting away from the car’s tall stance. Mitsubishi’s update is certainly noticeable but it’s subtle enough that it doesn’t detract from the car’s overall character.
Unlike its French-badged siblings, the Mitsubishi ASX has a more compliant ride for Australian conditions that has been further improved with revised power steering and rear shock absorber settings. During our test drive through the twisty mountainous roads north of Brisbane, we found the ASX performed well over bumps and held its own around corners. The steering and directness is on par with the likes of Volkswagen’s Tiguan but if you push it hard there’s the occasional torquesteer and steering-wheel kickback, which can be unsettling.
With prices from $25,990 for the base model 2WD manual, the Mitsubishi ASX currently averages around 600 sales a month in Australia, with the majority of buyers opting for petrol variants powered by Mitsubishi’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine delivering 110kW of power and 197Nm of torque. It’s available with either a five-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
Mitsubishi has revised the CVT considerably for this update and claims it reduces the perceived ’clutch-slip’ feel. In essence, petrol ASX CVTs are now more responsive and acceleration has improved with the change in the ratio of the accelerator pedal opening and torque output.
On the other hand, the five-speed manual gearbox is smooth and simple to operate. It can certainly do with an additional gear but it’s more than adequate for everyday driving, even in suburbia. We found the 2.0-litre engine ideal for inner-city driving but it will struggle to provide enough power and torque for a quick and painless overtaking maneuverer on a highway.
For that, there’s the diesel ASX. Currently available with a six-speed manual only, the 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, which pumps out a healthy 110kW and 300Nm of torque, is only available in the range toping ASX 4WD Aspire. As a result, it’s expected to make up a very small proportion of overall ASX sales.
Mitsubishi Australia says an automatic diesel is coming mid-2013, but in the meantime it’s unlikely to gain many fans as a manual-only offering. Nonetheless, it becomes the best in class for fuel-efficiency, sipping just 5.7L of diesel per 100km.
Mitsubishi has emphasised that it has focused heavily on improving the interior quality and ambience of the ASX and although at first glance it appears almost identical to the original, a closer inspection reveals otherwise.
There are now soft touch contact points where your arms and hands are likely to meet the door and dash plastics and chrome accents on the air-conditioning dials as well as an updated steering wheel with more user-friendly controls. It’s still lacking that interior refinement of rivals such as the Subaru XV and Volkswagen Tiguan, but it’s an improvement over the old.
The cabin tends to let in more drivetrain and tyre noise when compared to its better-selling rivals but the interior is nonetheless spacious and roomy for a compact SUV, with enough headroom to accommodate most and plenty of front and rear legroom for a small family. The boot is not the biggest in class but offers plenty of space for the weekly shopping and an averaged-sized pram.
As for technology, Mitsubishi has updated the base variant’s audio system (a feature we’ve criticised in the past) with native support for iPod/iPhone connectivity for the base model as well as Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming capabilities. You also no longer need to ‘talk’ to your ASX to set up Bluetooth, thanks to a significantly improved user interface design.
Mitsubishi ASX Aspire variants make use of a brand-new 6.1-inch full colour touch screen audio system but you’ll still need to fork out an additional $2,995 for the new-generation Mitsubishi multimedia control system (MMCS) to get sat-nav, even in the highest spec $34,990 4WD Aspire models.
As another bonus and one that will certainly delight the more outgoing customers, Mitsubishi has improved the towing capacity of the ASX to 1300kg for petrol and 1400kg for diesel models (from 1050kg).
So far as small and compact SUVs go, the 2013 Mitsubishi ASX is a very decent package. It drives well and behaves as one would expect from a vehicle its size. The update has improved on an already competent package that has remained a popular choice with Australians looking to downsize from large cars or upsize from small or light cars into a practical, spacious and well packaged compact SUV. It remains to be seen whether it will continue to be competitive amongst segment leader Nissan Dualis, new-comer Subaru XV and Volkswagen’s recently updated Tiguan.
Mitsubishi ASX Pricing: