The updated 2015 Mitsubishi ASX was claimed to up the Japanese SUV’s value for money proposition, as well as improve its refinement.
The value equation is clear: the update saw all models – including the base LS 2WD petrol model, priced at $24,990 that is being tested here – adopt 17-inch alloy wheels, reversing sensors and a reverse-view camera.
On top of that, Mitsubishi has one of the stronger aftersales propositions in the market, with a five-year/100,000 kilometre warranty, as well as four years of capped price servicing at an average of $265 per annum for the petrol versions, and five years of free roadside assistance.
Given the ASX’s stiff competition – which includes the likes of the Hyundai ix35, Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage, Skoda Yeti and the all-new Nissan Qashqai – it’s fair to say that Mitsubishi needs to offer plenty of incentives, as the ASX is starting to age.
Styling isn’t part of our assessment process, but those alloys give the car more stance than it ever had before, not to mention its revised front bumper with its LED daytime running lights.
The front-drive ASX has a 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine that is unchanged, with 110kW of power and 197Nm of torque.
The LS model is available with a five-speed manual transmission or an optional CVT automatic. The manual uses a claimed 7.6 litres of regular unleaded per 100 kilometres, while the CVT has claimed use of 7.4L/100km. During our time in the manual version we saw an indicated 9.1L/100km across a mix of highway and city driving.
The engine lacks much punch at low revs, with peak torque achieved at 4200rpm and peak power at 6000rpm. Under hard acceleration it can be noisy – particularly above 4000rpm, and it needs to spend quite a bit of time up high in the rev range. Indeed, at highway speeds it could do with an extra gear, sitting at more than 2700rpm.
The ASX measures 4.29 metres long, 1.77m wide and 1.61 high, slotting alongside the smaller players on the market like the Holden Trax and Peugeot 2008. However, the ASX has a lengthy 2.67m wheelbase as the car is based upon the previous generation Outlander’s underpinnings.
Mitsubishi says it has performed some fixes on the suspension to make it more stable, and it is clear the alterations have been beneficial.
That, combined with the stabilising nature of the long-ish wheelbase, result in a relatively composed ride that is well suited to city commuters. The suspension irons out big bumps nicely, and while it can be a little wobbly over continuous surface jitters, its composure is better than it has ever been.
Even through a quicker section of corners the ASX LS 2WD showed its improvement – there is still noticeable body-roll, but the cornering grip has clearly been enhanced by the fitment of those new 17-inch alloys which are clad in Dunlop SP Sport rubber.
The steering is better suited to commuting than tackling demanding mountain passes, in that it is light and predictable enough for easy parking manoeuvres. We did notice some kick-back over rough surfaces, though.
Because the ASX has been around for a while, it doesn’t feel or look as fresh as some of its main rivals when it comes to the cockpit.
That said, the recent update included some revisions to the trims and fabrics, and the cloth in the LS base model was of a nice quality.
The base model also gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear-shifter, and its 6.1-inch touchscreen media unit – which is now standard across the range and is nicely bordered by piano black inlays – is decent. It’s easy to use (particularly when tested in comparison to the larger screen version seen in higher models), and offers all the requisite items such as USB input and Bluetooth phone and audio with voice control. However, the screen can be difficult to see in certain light.
The presentation of the cabin can’t hide the age of the car, and elements such as the rotary air ventilation controls aren’t as posh as those seen in newer cars - and they feel a bit flimsy. It’s worth noting that the ASX has no rear air-vents.
Seat comfort is good up front, while in the back there is a flat, broad bench that sits low and makes for a reasonably spacious area for broader-shouldered passengers to sit.
The flat seat also makes child seat fitment simple, and the ASX has three top-tether points and outboard ISOFIX points. For adults, there’s reasonable knee-room, and unlike the higher-spec models that have a large glass roof panel, headroom in the base car is good for taller passengers.
Storage for the ASX is where it falls short of newer rivals. Although there is decent small item stowage by means of central cupholders, the slim door pockets and small bottle caddies up front will mean hoarders will need to clean out more often. In the back there are no door stowage slots but there is a single, lined map pocket and a flip-down central armrest with cupholders.
However, the boot of the ASX is where it has an advantage over some of those competitors that better it for in-cabin storage, with 416 litres of space with the seats up and a claimed 1109L with the 60:40 seats folded down. It has a broad opening which means loading large or awkward items is easy, and there are recessed loose item bins in the boot for odds and ends.
The ASX has seven airbags (dual front, front-side, full-length curtain and a driver’s knee airbag), and boasts a five-star crash rating.
The changes to the 2015 ASX range are welcome, but there's no disguising some of the shortfalls of this SUV against its newer rivals. That said, bargains can be had in Mitsubishi dealerships, so if a practical and comfortable small SUV with a low starting price is what you're in the market for, it could be worth a look.