First, a history lesson. The year is 2010, and in these 12 months we saw Apple introduce the iPad, Julia Gillard became Australia’s first female prime minister, and the AFL Grand Final between fierce rivals Collingwood and St Kilda ended in a draw, leading to a rematch where the former won. In this same year, Mitsubishi’s first-ever compact SUV, the ASX, launched Down Under.
Seven long years later, Apple has launched the second generation of the new iPad Pro line, politics changed sides and is back to males with Malcolm Turnbull now the prime minister, and the best AFL team ever (I’m a little biased) Richmond won its first grand final in 37 years. However, one thing has stayed the same, the faithful Mitsubishi ASX.
With that in mind, I thought I would write a review of my grandparents’ new ASX LS.
I’m sure everyone anticipated the car revealed at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show would be the all-new second-generation ASX, and were surprised when Mitsubishi instead decided to launch a new product that sits in between the ASX and Outlander, the Eclipse Cross. Speculation is that a new ASX will launch within the next three years, but whether it is just a major update or the next-generation version is unknown. For the sake of Mitsubishi, I hope it’s the latter – especially considering the ASX usually sits below the Mazda CX-3 in second place in the monthly Australian new car sales.
Speaking of the devil, that is the car we initially tested in March when the search began.
My grandparents had never purchased a brand-new car before and weren't planning to at first. Their previous car was a 2002 Ford Laser LXi sedan purchased used from the local dealer in 2005 with few kilometres on the dial. But just like things can change in seven years, a lot changed in 12 years.
Now with 100,000km on the odometer and with the car (as well as the owners) ageing, the decision was made to find a newer car, preferably from 2013-15. Since I’m the new car man, I recommended several choices including the Mazda CX-3, Mazda 3 and wildcard Skoda Fabia wagon. Those cars were forgotten and replaced with various cars on dealership lots – including an orange Ford EcoSport that my Nan absolutely loved – however we talked her out of that, thankfully.
After some thinking, they decided they should pull the pin on buying a brand-new car, especially because they had never done it before. Several days later, my parents rolled around in a test-drive CX-3 Maxx.
While some features may appeal to many people, such as the elegant ‘Kodo’ design, MZD Connect and nice engine/exterior/interior against the ASX, just about everything else is not good with the car – especially when older people were planning to buy it.
One of the major reasons the Laser needed to go was because of its low height, which was making it hard for them to get in and out – especially for my Pa, and the CX-3 made hardly any difference. From the drive we did, the CX-3 was great, but the low height and ergonomics left them disappointed.
So, while returning the car back to the dealer, the salesman happened to recommend the ASX, saying that most buyers are over 50. Hesitant, my parents pulled up in the driveway once again 30 minutes later. What a difference! Immediately, it was much easier for them to get in and out. What makes the difference is the slightly higher ground clearance, as well as the wide opening doors that are also large from top to bottom, and the seats are closer to the outside – reducing the time spent bending for ingress and egress.
A week later – after a 12-hour test drive – my grandparents excitingly purchased the ASX LS in Red (official colour name – ha). Following that week was another week, and this week brought the delivery day. With final documents signed, the old Laser was traded in to be sold to used car dealers in Melbourne, and the new pride and joy was taken on its first-ever trip home.
It’s been nine months since the car was driven away from the dealership and it has been impressive. So without further ado, here are some details:
Powertrain and driving
Sitting underneath the bonnet is the well-regarded Mitsubishi 2.0-litre petrol engine that is also used in the Outlander and Lancer. It produces 110kW and 197Nm of torque and is mated to a CVT transmission. Around town and on the highway, the engine is powerful enough to get from A to B, but it isn’t anything special.
One of the many complaints with a constantly variable transmission is the lack of responsiveness and it does show, but this car doesn’t appeal to driving enthusiasts does it? In fact, my grandparents don’t notice any difference between the CVT and self-shifter in the Laser, and it’s still a great transmission for them.
In terms of road and engine noise, it is quiet, but not to the point of being near silent. On the highway, wind and tyre noise are prevalent throughout the cabin, but around town you won’t notice it. Engine noise is also slightly noticeable, especially when accelerating.
If you are looking for a bit of grunt and driving pizzazz from a small SUV, I would recommend a newer car from another brand, such as the Hyundai Kona or Toyota C-HR, or the upscaled Eclipse Cross with its 1.5T unit. But in saying that, a Hyundai i30 SR or Holden Astra RS would be a better choice than any of the options listed above.
With the 2017 update last November, Mitsubishi introduced the new ‘Dynamic Shield’ front fascia as seen on the Outlander and Pajero Sport to the existing ASX design. My opinion is that this 'modern' design does not fit the styling of the existing surroundings.
For me, while the 2018 update has further improved the looks with a slightly updated grille and the re-introduction of LED DRLs on the bumper – which were humorously removed with the 17MY update and reintroduced just one year later – the 15.5MY version will always be the pinnacle of ASX design.
Excluding the front, the remainder of the car is actually well designed. The 18-inch wheels look stunning, and aren’t anything like a base-spec car should offer. And while the tail-lights may have not changed during the seven-year life cycle, they still look relatively fresh, if you can forgive the prominent orange indicator area.
As with all Mitsubishis, including my parents’ Pajero Sport, the cabin is very simple and is filled with dark plastics that are hard. This is one aspect that automatically gives the win to all of its rivals, but it isn’t cut short at that point, with the interior boasting excellent boot space and storage – only topped by the Honda HR-V and Nissan Qashqai as class leaders.
While the 2018 ASX LS introduced a new 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, the 2017 model continued with the small 6.1-inch system that has been used throughout most of the ASX’s long life. Immediately looking at the display, you can see horrible graphics and an illogical layout, but diving further in and nice features can be seen, such as a good Bluetooth system that is quick to connect and DAB+ radio – something that is rare for a base-model car – especially at this price point.
However, they are the things I use, not my grandparents. The AM/FM radio works well, with quick shortcut buttons between different stations and a logical CD player interface. All in all, the system is still easy to use despite its age.
Comfort-wise, the cloth seats with ‘sporty’ red stitching are comfortable at the front. Rear passengers deal with the same good back support, but miss out on great bottom support, with the rear bench feeling very firm over long distances. However, it’s good for a short trip.
The one and only issue that they have encountered with the car thus far is the glovebox, due to the latch being positioned on the right side, rather than in the middle. This means that the left side sags down and therefore doesn’t close probably, which could be a safety issue during an accident. Initially, we prevented this issue by using some force when shutting the glovebox, but nothing fixes it now. This will be rectified at the next service.
In conclusion, the ASX is a great car for my grandparents, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is in the same situation as them or looking for a great deal that still provides an excellent car.
Stay tuned for more reviews of other cars from me in the future, and feel free to leave a comment below. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!