We’ve lost count of how many times the Mitsubishi ASX has had a facelift. Sometimes, it’s a flash of chrome on the bumper, a change of seat fabrics, or a completely new nose from the widescreen forward, like we have here.
The 10-year-old Mitsubishi ASX should have been replaced by now (most cars undergo full model changes every five to six years or so), but just as the company was putting the finishing touches on the next-generation design, Mitsubishi became part of the Nissan-Renault alliance.
So, what we have here is a bigger-than-expected facelift to keep the Mitsubishi ASX looking and feeling fresh until the all-new, jointly developed model arrives in a couple of years.
Every panel from the windscreen forward is new, and it has adopted Mitsubishi’s shield grille design. The headlights are sharper and brighter, the tail-lights and rear bumper have been tweaked, and there are some subtle but important changes inside, too.
The infotainment screen now has volume and tuning dials (as well as being a touchscreen, as before), the seats have been reupholstered and have bigger side bolsters, and the price has remained basically the same.
The base-model Mitsubishi ASX ES has been $24,990 drive-away with auto for the better part of the past five years. At the moment, that’s the price for the manual.
As this article was published the auto was advertised at $26,740 drive-away but with a seven-year warranty and two years free servicing.
Until Mitsubishi changes to a different promotion it may be a few months before the base model ASX auto dips to $24,990 drive-away again (the extra warranty and free services cost the dealer and the company money).
In the meantime the only way to get one at this price is to buy the previous runout model, or hope a dealer is prepared to sell one at a loss to hit their end of Japanese financial year target, which will deliver most outlets a massive windfall.
A sharp price and a package that buyers want – a small SUV that fits in the same-size parking space as a hatchback – have helped drive the Mitsubishi ASX to the top of the sales charts among its peers. It has been Australia’s bestselling small SUV for the past three years in a row, proving it is possible to get better with age.
Strong demand from private buyers – and sizeable discounts to rental car operators – have helped keep the ASX at the top of the sales charts.Which is how we found ourselves behind the wheel of the facelifted model before it was due in the CarAdvice garage.
By chance, I rented the newest version of the Mitsubishi ASX a fortnight ago and ran it for three days (the car in these photos is our test car, identical to the rental car except for the addition of the optional ADAS safety system). Rental cars certainly don’t get the same care and attention as vehicles supplied for media evaluation, so it was good to experience a car that hadn’t been pampered. It had done less than 10,000km, so it was still relatively new. And there weren’t many bumps or scratches, so it clearly hadn’t been abused, which was a good thing.
But I was genuinely impressed with how good it was to drive, even against newer competition. Early ASXs were not composed over bumps or comfortable in corners. It’s apparent that in addition to styling tweaks over the past 10 years, Mitsubishi engineers have also put a spanner on the suspension at some point. Though not the benchmark for the category, the ASX drives well by class standards.
The cabin is roomy, the seats are comfortable, and the boot is big enough, though not best-in-class at 393L. There is good visibility thanks to the large glass area, but rear cross-traffic alert, blind-zone warning – available as part of the $2500 ADAS (advanced driver-assist system) – and the standard rear camera and sensors also help when manoeuvring.
Standard equipment includes new LED headlights (for low and high beam), 18-inch alloy wheels, remote central locking, a larger 8.0-inch infotainment screen, and a one-touch auto-up power window for the driver.
The 60/40 split-fold rear seats have two ISOFIX child seat mounts and three top tether points. There are also no air vents or power sockets for back seat passengers on this grade, and only one seatback map pocket on the passenger’s side.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is the same as before (110kW/197Nm) and paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission.
The fuel rating label says the average consumption is a reasonably indicative 7.6L/100km. In a mix of city and highway driving we saw an average of between 7.4L/100km and 8.0L/100km, which is better than expected and par for the class. With a relatively large fuel tank (63L), you can in theory cover 700km on the open road between refills.
Towing capacity is a modest 1300kg, so a small boat, jet ski or box trailer is your limit.
Dislikes? Under the boot floor is a space-saver spare rather than a full-size replacement. There’s still no digital speedo, even though there is a digital screen between the analogue dials.
And for some reason, Mitsubishi continues to persist with having phone call audio come through only the speaker in the front passenger’s foot well, not on the driver’s side. We noticed this occurs whether you’re connected via Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. It’s odd and off-putting, but you learn to live with it. Adjusting the volume of your phone can also help you hear the person at the other end of the line more clearly.
The standard warranty is five years and service intervals are 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. However, as this article was published, Mitsubishi was offering seven-year warranty coverage and two years of free servicing.
Mitsubishi has capped-price servicing for up to three years. Other brands offer price certainly for life, or at the very least the length of the warranty period, so be sure to shop around once the deal expires.
Overall, though, there’s not much not to like. There are newer rivals, but few have the features of the facelifted Mitsubishi ASX at this price.