Paul Pottinger road tests and reviews the Mitsubishi ASX Aspire
"See You" reads the centre console when you jab off the Aspire's power button. After a week in the top model of Mitsubishi's ASX you want to tell it not to be so presumptuous.
But that's only if you're feeling especially polite.
Though an appalling euphemism (and inaccurate acronym) , the "Active Sports Crossover" is not a particularly poor car - or soft roader, urban shopping vehicle or whatever you want to call it - as much as it is pointless. Contrived (and that's the word) to bridge the barely perceptible gap between the Lancer sedan/hatch range and the Outlander SUV, its validity is further clouded by there being any number of better alternatives.
Still, it looks nice in blue.
Dubious at this end of the range for this kind of dough. For the likely intended use - that'd be the shopping centre and school run - I can't help but think the basic $26K front-wheel-drive jobbie would be ASX enough.
But if you can't forgo fruit, the top level Aspire is a pleasant place to be: leather upholstery, chrome bits, USB/Bluetooth, a particularly good touchscreen sat-nav screen, reversing camera and resonant Rockford Fosgate sound systems. Entry and ignition are keyless.
You'll do the Westfield trip in some style.
The manually switchable four-wheel-drive, though of limited application here, adds some surety if, say, it's been raining on the upper storey of the carpark. A frontie in normal circumstances, you can select on demand 4WD or lock it in.
The continuously variable transmission from the Lancer has six manual presets grabbable via steering wheel shifting levers.
The Lancer's striking if derivative exterior is the chief reason for its sales success. That works too for the ASX, essentially an elevated Lancer wagon. Sweet looking thing, especially, as we say, in its signature "Kingfisher" blue.
Front and back row occupants won't whine about space and the driver gets a fully adjustable wheel for ease of positioning - as long as there's only four all up and they're not toting too much stuff. It's so often the case that quasi-SUVs offer little or no advantage over a Golf-sized hatch and that applies here: 416 litres rear seats up, 1193 down. Not heaps.
As is true of the top level Lancer, the above mentioned bling goes only so far toward lifting the cabin ambience. There's some ordinary lower level plastics.
Again like the Lancer, active and passive measures are to the fore of the small-medium class. Seven airbags, anti-lock brakes with discs front and rear that have a nice amount of travel in the pedal before the ABS bites.
The best electronic stability programs intervene in a manner you'll barely notice. You'll notice the ASX's but, as we'll see, that's not the fault of the program.
For any but the least demanding driver, the ASX is a non-starter. The 2.0-litre four is yesterday's papers in terms of sophistication and performance, especially inadequate moving off the mark through the flaring transmission. It can do only so much with 1440kg plus me to haul, hence fuel consumption approached double the claimed figure in 380km of open road and suburban driving.
Activating AWD does little to redeem dull dynamics and an unresolved ride. Taking the mildest corner at the recommended speed has the Dunlop tyres squealing and the weight shifting in a way that would cause dismay in much a larger, less wieldy SUV. Not that cornering is to be eagerly anticipated with steering this slow and unresponsive. Open road or parking lot, you seem always to be in need of more lock.
Cosseting from the road's imperfections might reasonably be expected in something so soft, but the ASX wallows exaggeratedly in response to undulations. Nor is it especially pleasant in straight ahead running. Tyre roar threatened to drown the Test coverage, though this could be seen as an act of mercy. I wouldn't care to be seated in the back where cacophony would be more apparent.
The diesel variant, which comes only with a manual transmission for the moment, is altogether more gratifying with its emphatic 110kW/300Nm engine, whose heavier weight makes this more planted ASX. Bizarrely, though, our loan car was afflicted with an indicator noise so piercingly, chirpingly irritating I seriously considered resorting to hand signals.
"See you"? Not me. Buy Kia's Sportage Platinum.
MITSUBISHI ASX ASPIRE
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder; 110kW/197Nm
Transmission: continuously variable auto; AWD
Thirst: 8.1L/100 (claimed)
Hyundai ix35 Highlander ($37,990); Kia Sportage Platinum ($35,990); Honda CR-V Sport Wagon ($39,790); Nissan Dualis Ti 4X4 (from $29,990); Volkswagen Tiguan (from $33,990) among many others