The Mitsubishi ASX is about to enter its sixth year of production — with a mid model year update, we find out whether it's still a good purchase.
The small SUV segment is one of the most hotly contested on the market, and the Mitsubishi ASX has managed to work its way to a handy number-two sales position (behind the Hyundai ix35).
Launched in 2010, the Mitsubishi ASX is getting on in age, but still manages to cut a sleek line on the road with flared wheel arches and a higher ride height than a regular small hatch.
Updated for the 2015 model year, the exterior of the Mitsubishi ASX now comes with 18-inch alloy wheels (standard across the range), black wheel arch extensions and a chrome tailgate extender. Inside the cabin, the ASX now gets a new steering wheel from the revised Outlander, along with DAB digital radio.
The ASX range starts from an affordable $24,990 for the two-wheel drive ASX LS in five-speed manual trim and tops out at $35,990 for the vehicle tested here, the ASX XLS 4WD, which is mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox and on-demand all-wheel drive.
From the outside, the ASX stands out from the crowd thanks to LED daytime running lights and those big alloy wheels. The ASX stands out even more in the Starlight white colour tested, which features pearlescent highlights that give the car a more premium appearance.
The addition of a new steering wheel has really upped the interior appeal of the ASX. The tactile feel of the wheel is very pleasant, it sits nicely in the hand and the integrated buttons are a welcome departure from the cheaper feeling wheel in the previous car. The rest of the cabin quality is generally good with limited use of harsh plastics.
Based on the same platform as the Lancer and Outlander, the ASX offers a reasonable amount of leg and headroom in both the first and second rows. Rear seat passengers get a folding centre armrest with two cupholders along with two ISOFIX mounting points.
The 60:40 split folding rear seats open up to a 393 litre boot that can be expanded to 1143 litres with the second row folded flat.
While the addition of DAB digital radio is great, the 7.0-inch infotainment system that surrounds it isn't. It's old, feels clunky and isn't overly easy to use, especially when you're on the move. The same can be said for the voice recognition system, which is almost entirely useless and seriously lacks the functionality of most of its competitors.
Mitsubishi hasn't updated the climate control switchgear with the latest model refresh, meaning that it still retains the first-generation dials that feel rather cheap and nasty. It would be nice to see a digital display and the removal of the older style knobs.
On the plus side, the XLS comes with a number of standard features that include automatic windscreen wipers and headlights, glass panoramic roof with LED surrounding lights, electric driver's seat, heated seats for the first row, reversing camera, rear parking sensors and proximity sensing key.
Under the bonnet of the ASX is a 2268cc four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine (although Mitsubishi refers to it as a 2.2-litre) that produces 110kW of power and 360Nm of torque. The claimed fuel consumption figure sits at 6L/100km, which is pretty impressive. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with static paddle shifters.
The slightly noisy diesel engine gets along nicely, but has noticeable turbocharger lag at the lower end of the rev range. Once it's on the move it has plenty of motivation and feels grunty mid-range, which is good for overtaking and zipping through traffic.
The ride is great, erring on the side of soft, which is ideal for a car like this. It handles bumps and uneven road surfaces well, but won't set the world on fire when it comes to cornering — not that you would expect it to.
Electrically assisted steering offers a reasonable amount of feel and is the perfect companion for tight parking spaces and manoeuvring through the city. It works in unison with the ASX's 10.6m turning circle to deliver the perfect balance between manoeuvrability and drivability.
The real ace up the ASX's sleeve is its ability to switch between drive modes at the push of a button. In the vehicle's two-wheel-drive mode, the ASX uses the least amount of fuel and essentially acts like a front-wheel-drive small SUV.
Push the '4WD' button to switch things to four-wheel-drive automatic mode and the ASX can make decisions on the fly, shuffling torque between the front and rear axles at required. It also works with the vehicle's traction control systems to deliver the optimum traction on slippery surfaces.
The driver can also switch to a full-time four-wheel-drive lock mode that permanently engages the vehicle's four-wheel-drive system to deliver torque to all four wheels. This mode is useful in situations where you know there is likely to be constant wheel slip. It essentially reduces the amount of time it takes for torque to reach the rear axle.
Mitsubishi's impressive five year, 100,000km warranty with 15,000km service intervals makes the ASX an ongoing clever purchase option for buyers not overly fussed with the age of this model on the market.
While there are better buys to be had out there, the Mitsubishi ASX is there for buyers that are happy to sacrifice the modern appeal of newer vehicles on the market such as the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V, which both offer equally compelling purchase options.
Click on the Photos tab for more 2015 Mitsubishi ASX XLS 4WD images by Tom Fraser.