Mitsubishi ASX Review
Mitsu's baby SUV has a balance - it's great...and not so great
For starters, the CVT takes all the, ahem, legwork out of changing gear. Not that it's usually a problem mind you, but the manual ASX hasn't got the easiest shift with its notchy gearbox and high clutch takeup point. So to have smooth acceleration takes no effort in the CVT petrol version. And on the roll, that's how things are - nice and smooth.
Faced with stop-start conditions, it can be a little different. Most noticable when cold, light on-and-off applications of throttle are followed by a small lurch, like the CVT is disengaging from the engine. Once warmed the effect is negligible, however it would be annoying for a quick trip to the shops and back.
The CVT also takes a while to wind up - the car's a little slow in getting off the line, probably due to the small amount of torque (197Nm) - but once it does, acceleration is brisk enough using all of its 110kW and overtaking is never a heart-in-your-mouth procedure. The 2.0-litre four cylinder can be a little buzzy at the top end, but low in the revs it's reasonably quiet.
Road noise, however, is not. Normally the smaller the wheel, the quieter the cabin. Surprisingly, on wheels smaller than the Aspire model (16-inch versus 17-inch respectively), tyre roar is quite noticeable. On coarse chip surfaces at highway speeds, the cabin is a fairly loud place to be. Thankfully the smaller wheels do give a better ride.
It's best described as supple, and markedly better than the 17-inchers on the Aspire. Of course, 16-inch wheels don't imbue the ASX with class-leading handling, hence its tendency is to understeer when pushed. Effectively a raised Mitsubishi Lancer (the ASX runs off the same platform), there's a bit of roll with its higher centre of gravity, but the trade-off is that lovely ride.
There's an all-wheel-drive system operated by a switch on the centre console, and if you let your tyres down, a beach jaunt shouldn't be out of the question.
Inside, the ASX is a lot less claustrophobic than its more expensive brother the ASX Aspire, due to the fact that there are some grey highlights and textures, and not just masses of black. With black leather, black plastic, black carpets, and black roof lining the Aspire tends to be very dark inside and overwhelmingly, well, black.
There's good legroom and headroom for all but the tallest of people in the back, and the boot is very usable at 416 litres. There are grab handles for all outboard passengers as well as the driver, as well as a decently sized glovebox.
The dash is nicely grained and feels soft to the touch. There are a few cutlines which are a little out of place - most notably at the back of the dash fascia - but on the whole, the ASX has a very nicely presented interior. The stereo is fairly average, but the Bluetooth system works a treat - once you figure out which voice commands to use to pair your phone.
Throughout the week, we consumed an average of just over 11-litres/100km. This could probably be improved with more extended country driving, however for a mostly city based SUV, it's a little disappointing, considering a CVT is supposed to maintain the most economical revs available. I guess that's why the diesel is offered. But only in manual.
And there's the dilemma. If you want fuel economy, go for the diesel. If you want ease of driving, go for the petrol. If you want both? Well, you'll have to look elsewhere. The Kia Sportage or Hyundai ix35 are a good start. However the ASX does represent reasonable value-for-money by comparison. Asking $31,990 for all-wheel-drive, with a good amount of space, Bluetooth, a much better ride than the Korean offerings, handsome looks, good fit and finish, an five year warranty (and 10 years on the drivetrain) plus a five-star safety rating, the ASX will probably end up on the shortlist of most compact SUV buyers.
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*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer and does not include dealer delivery, on-road or statutory charges.