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Mitsubishi ASX Aspire review

Paul Pottinger road tests and reviews the Mitsubishi ASX Aspire

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  • Exterior design
  • It's a pretty blue
  • Sat nav system
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  • Steering
  • Handling
  • Storage

"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.

VALUE

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.

TECHNOLOGY

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.

DESIGN

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.

SAFETY

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.

DRIVING

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.

VERDICT

"See you"? Not me. Buy Kia's Sportage Platinum.

SCORE

55/100

MITSUBISHI ASX ASPIRE

Price: $36,990
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder; 110kW/197Nm
Transmission: continuously variable auto; AWD
Thirst: 8.1L/100 (claimed)

RIVALS

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

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 22 comments

  • The USB input on the ASX is very annoying as when you turn off the car & start it again the song on the USB will automatically revert to begining of the playlist. It doesn’t keep to the same song that you turned off the car. I have took it under warranty & complained and they said they have tested on numerous ASX and all does the same. Pretty poor, have not used the USB function since…

    Melissa of Narwee Posted on 29 October 2013 1:29pm
  • I purchased a new Aspire CVT 2l petrol 4WD 3 months ago. So far it has proved to be comfortable, pleasant and economical transport. I have recently owned a Golf GTi and Verada GTV. The latter was not as nimble as the Golf but handled brilliantly and felt more potent. The ASX considering the type of vehicle it is compares quite well handling wise but is a long way behind when it comes to performance. Yet it is no slouch either. The 0 - 160 kph acceleration is actually better than my Datsun 2000 Sports could achieve. And that was considered to be a real performance sportscar. I wonder at the testers mindset. I have occasionally for the purpose of scientific enquiry driven the Golf at twice the recommended speed around some corners which it did with some reaction from the electronics and the odd squeak from the tyres.  Similar testing show the ASX is quite comfortable at modest margins of plus 30% over the recommended speeds. I think the tester should check tyre pressures before driving off. I must admit I prefer 36 psi front and 33 psi rear. It corners well wet or dry and average fuel use so far is 7.4 per 100 km. It does not like coarse bitumen - but is lovely on the smooth.

    S Olenich of Adelaide Posted on 10 May 2013 6:06pm
  • Hired and drove the ASX over 3 days. Fitted with rear camera and parking sensors. Enjoyed the high seating position, steering was good, ride was very good and little road noise. The engine was adequate and handled the Adelaide hills OK but uphill it needed to work. Travelled 350kms and used $30.00 of petrol. Overall an enjoyable experience.

    Roger of Brisbane Posted on 29 May 2012 10:55am
  • My hire car was supposed to be a Corolla Sedan however was presented with an ASX. It is a nice looking car and I was pleasantly surprised with the alloy wheels, bluetooth and cruise control that came with the car. Drivers enjoyed the higher position off the road. The USB connection failed to read my 32Gb thumb drive though. It was a pleasant drive to Carnarvon (from Perth) and had no trouble overtaking the road trains although it tended to strain at speeds approaching 145km/hr when overtaking. Due to a stone chip had the car replaced with a Ford G6, however passengers all commented on how they preferred sitting in the ASX.

    Clement S Fong of Perth, WA Posted on 23 November 2011 12:14pm
  • I purchased a Mits ASX in Dec 2010. We have had NOTHING BUT TROUBLE with this car. We have the diesel Aspire model. As I write this it is back at the dealership after breaking down on me for the 6th time. There has been lots of documented problems with this particular model. At this stage they have no idea whats wrong with this car. I can not get hold of anybody other than the customer service assistant to talk. Its almost like Mitsubishi goes into lock down and won’t talk. The car is a LEMON! I regret the day I walked into the dealership. They have wiped there hands of us and have offered us no help at all. They told me to ring the 1800 number. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT! Thank God the fellas at Sale have been gracious enough to help us. Oh and buy the way, keep a check on the dipstick! This has a tendency to just pop out at random! The ASX model we have has certainly not performed to the standard it should. From all accounts this model should be recalled and all its faults should be sorted before any more unsuspecting suckers purchase the LEMON that they are.

    Deb McLennan of Gippsland Posted on 03 November 2011 11:22am
  • Dear Paul, I compared the ASX with the cars you listed and bought the ASX. Why? It’s the most comfortable to drive and ride in, handles well, is easy to manoeuvre, returns 8.1 l/ 100km and has a long warranty. Maintenance is capped for 3 years and the drive train warranty is 10 years. The Tiguan is a very hard riding car, at any speed, Kia Sportage wallows even at walking pace and with the Dualis there is no rear view to speak of. Bluetooth comes standard, the seats are easy to get in and out of and I can drive all day without getting a backache.  It’s actually fun to drive.

    Victor Bos of Ballina NSW Posted on 13 October 2011 1:11pm
  • I compared the ASX with the Sportage and tried out both of them. For the same buck i got the diesel ASX with 150 HP compared with the Sportage diesel 115 HP. The ASX had the same fuel consumption compared with the ASX even if the engine in the Mitsubishi was quite a lot more powerful. So for me it was quite easy to choose. I got 8 years warranty or 150000 km. Mitsubishi made that deal to beat Kia.

    Krister Str?m of Sweden Posted on 28 May 2011 9:32am
  • Paul, Top Gear may be funny but they take cars seriously. In their review they have completely the opposite view regarding the ASXs handling to you. Where you complain that “the ASX wallows exaggeratedly in response to undulations” Top Gear say “?it somehow suffers less from top-heavy lolloping ... where the ASX feels low and car-like rather than lofty and SUV-like”. That?s two completely opposite views of the same car, which is puzzling to say the least. Personally, as an owner of an ASX I haven?t experienced the exaggerated wallowing you mentioned (although there is some extra bounce on large speed humps), and I have driven almost 3,000kms. Trust me, I don?t drive it slowly either, as maintaining momentum into the corners is important for fuel economy. In terms of fuel economy, my ASX on E10 manages less then 9-l per 100km compared to my 2.2lt Camry on regular unleaded that does more then 10.5-l per 100km doing the same routes. It stands to reason that if I had purchased the 2.4L petrol Sportage over the ASX my fuel would be 11-l per 100km or more. For me that?s not acceptable. The Sportage is a great car; however I refute your fuel economy and handling claims in your ASX review.

    Terrak Posted on 13 February 2011 6:36pm
  • Waldo - You have a point, but I think you’ll see I do acknowledge what the ASX is “meant for.”

    Arch - Read some of my Holden and Ford reviews, notably the Barina Spark and XT Falcon. Then come here and say it ...

    Michelle - Thank you. My pleasure. You gotta call ‘em like you see ‘em.

    Guy Page - Quite so, sir.

    Terrak - The more you write the less we seem to disagree. Nevertheless, I think we should agree to disagree. I’d like to see an auto in that ASX diesel. “Funny” that I seem to disagree with Top Gear, you say? Isn’t Top Gear supposed to be funny?

    Regards to all,

    PP

    Paul Pottinger of Sydney Posted on 08 February 2011 7:55pm
  • Firstly i like to point out that the Loud Indicator is a setting for hearing impaired people. In the default setting the ASX indicator isnt loud at all. I hope that you took that into account before you finish your review of the ASX

    Secondly i think unless there is some sort of scientific and uniform way you tested all your cars, then we should not take any supposed fuel consumption claims seriously. This is why we have official fuel economy figures, where cars have been tested in the exactly the same conditions. BTW did you check fuel consumption properly (eg fill tank up full, do 200Kms then fill tank full again, look at how many Lts it took to fill it full to get an accurate fuel economy) Dont just look at the fuel economy on the Trip computer.

    The Sportage is a great car, and if speed, power and size are important to you (also sunroof and 18” wheels) then its better then the ASX.

    If you want an SUV with full media features (GPS, DVD) smaller size and best fuel economy (official figures) go for the ASX.

    I think thats the problem people have with this review, it recommends a car that isnt really meant do to what the ASX is meant for.

    Waldo Posted on 07 February 2011 6:33pm
  • Ok Paul i guess that is your opinion on the ASX and i agree its not for everyone. Its funny how your website absolutely loves the Sportage, but in other websites (like topgear UK) prefer the ASX over the Sportage.
    The ASX and Dualis for that matter are more like High Riding Hatchbacks then true SUVs (like Sportage and RAV 4). The Smaller 2.0L engine which though slow is chosen for fuel economy not speed or towing. Compare ASX Urban Figures of 10.5L per 100km to Sportages 12.7L per 100km (official), thats a huge difference over the life of the car especially if you mainly drive it in the city. Also for many drivers who dont carry alot (most people commute to work alone) why do we need a big boot? The ASX small size makes it a little easier to park compared to larger SUVs.
    Im just trying to make you and others see that the ASX fills a different role to traditional SUVs, Not perfect (for my needs yes but not others) but sufficent. you cant put them strictly in the same category

    Oh Jacko my choice of cars aint meant to impress or excite you, and its better then your lame attempt at a joke. Who are you supposed to be? Micheal Jackson? And you think my internet name is bad LOL

    Terrak Posted on 26 January 2011 12:55pm
  • I own a new ASX and its perfect for my intentened use.I test drove most of the other contenders and found them to be pretty much all the same the way they handle and steer and accelerate etc. It really comes down to picking the one that has features that are best suited to your needs.

    Guy Page of Gosford NSW Posted on 25 January 2011 2:19pm
  • Thanks Paul.  This is the first honest review I’ve seen of the ASX.  Most reviewers are so sugary positive it’s just plain silly.  No vehicle is perfect and I want to know what the problems are so I can decide what is important to me.

    I’m tossing up between the Aspire diesel and the VW Tiguan diesel so this info has been very helpful.

    Thanks again.

    Michelle of Townsville Posted on 24 January 2011 1:24pm
  • Maybe Mitsubishi doesn?t supply Mr Pottinger with nice lunches and overseas trips, like some companies do, Holden and Ford can put out dud cars year in year out, and reviewers will still recommend them, Ford in particular with the Territory, rust, failed ball joints, poor finishes etc.

    arch of Melbourne Posted on 18 January 2011 7:33pm
  • Does Terrak mean “tedious” in Klingon or something? Mate, you’re a very boring person whose owned very boring cars ...

    Jacko Posted on 17 January 2011 6:38pm
  • Terrak - I’m sure you didn’t have to adjust from your “previous Camry”. Both this and and the petrol ASX are white goods on wheels. Glad you like them, as thousands do, but don’t be offended if I say my basis of comparison is considerably wider. I could go on, but you’ve gone on enough for several people.


    Steven A - Umm, I think you’ll find I did praise the diesel ASX. It is much, much better than the petrol version. What’s “so wrong” about that? It’s a pity so few will consider a manual, because Mitsubishi do not as yet provide an auto with this engine. I look forward to trying it.


    “Duskyboy” - I tend not to indulge people who rant from behind pseudonyms. But just this once ... I was one of those who voted a $19K VW Polo as Carsguide Car of the Year over a $135,000 BMW. What’s “rarefied” about that? Incidentally, I shop at Westfield and I do the school run so I know what I’m saying when I say the petrol ASX is good for that.


    Regards


    PP

    Paul Pottinger of Sydney Posted on 16 January 2011 8:20pm
  • I am using ASX two wheel automatic for 3 months. I am getting very good milage 7.3/100L on city road, I have not found any problem with the steering. Overall very satisfied with ASX.

    Mooshy of Canberra Posted on 10 January 2011 12:52am
  • Final point to make about this reviewer, look at his cars guide review history, his past reviews are Volkswagon Toareg, Outlander, BMW X5 E70 Audi Q7 and Skoda Octavia scout. Most are Big engined large SUVs, with the exception of the Octavia scout which instead has a powerful 2L diesel engine. No wonder why he bitches on size and power of the ASX. Its a wonder why he bothered to review a car which is quite different to what he normally reviews. You can see why he is so biased against the significantly smaller ASX. Final fail mr Pottinger Stick to reviewing big SUVs and leave the smaller cars to more sensible reviewers.

    Terrak Posted on 08 January 2011 8:15am
  • This car fills a completely different role then the Sportage which this reviewer obviously loves. Obviously loves speed too, as his poor fuel economy figures shows. You CANT get fuel economy and fast speed these days, compromises must be made. The 2.0L engine is slow of the mark but reasonably fast once moving. Most people wont worry, especially who the ASX is Aimed at. Besides in stop start city traffic the Sportages big 2.4L engine becomes a liability then an advantage as it will consume more petrol the the ASX’s 2.0L in either coasting or idling. This is were the smaller capacity engine is better. The smaller size of the ASX becomes an advantage too, especially when parallel parking in tight city streets, being about 15cms shorter 7cms thinner, might not sound like much but can make a difference in tight city parking, especially for those who dont need alot of space to carry things. Look at those long peak hour queues and see how many people are driving fully loaded cars. I doubt you’ll find many. Which brings me to the failure of this Reviewer. He obviously needs space and speed in a car, so the ASX is not for him but for economical compact city driving the ASX is perfect.

    Terrak Posted on 08 January 2011 8:00am
  • I have no interest in buying an ASX, no connection with Mitsubishi and no problem with what Paul Pottinger said about it. But as for how he said it, if there’s a more smug, self-important and patronising way to write a road test, I’ve yet to read it. With every smartarse comment, Pottinger seems more intent on impressing us with how bored he is to have been driving the thing—and putting down the little people his superior intellect sees as the vehicle’s target audience…ie. those who “do the Westfield trip,” or “the school run.” Clearly Mr Pottinger only shops at rarified places the rest of the Australian population can’t even imagine,and considers people who take their kids to school as drones incapable of appreciating automotive standards the way he can. But in reality, the transparently try-hard, arch-cleverness of his sneering comments are sadly out of touch with the people he’s employed to communicate with, ie. a mainstream newspaper audience. Simply, if he’s the best in motoring journalism the Telegraph can find,it doesn’t say much for the paper. I don’t know about the quality of the ASX’s plastics, but his article certainly showcases some ordinary lower level writing.

    Duskyboy Posted on 08 January 2011 1:17am
  • Mr Pottinger you couldnt have got your review so wrong and yes we can see your favourite colour is “blue”.
    Ive read Carsguide for many years and have had great respect for the experienced reviewers…until now. There are many things I could add in response to your deluded review of this bloody good little car and no I don’t own a Mitsubishi ASX and yes I wouldn’t mind owning one as it’s the best overall package in its class. The only competitor vehicle you can directly compare with the ASX is Nissan’s Dualis and not much else and I have had the opportunity to test both of these vehicles and the ASX is the best of both. It’s definitely more handsome if not sporty and aggressive in its stance than Dualis, even in the pretty blue you like. Interior plastics are better and softer to touch than Dualis and ASX drives better not to mention a more responsive 2.0 litre engine to boot plus you get a world first Diesel engine with MIVEC ( variable vavle technology ) technology. That’s enough from me and hopefully enough from you Mr Pottinger, you’re obviously biased and show no objectivity.

    Steven A of Sydney Posted on 07 January 2011 9:02pm
  • Obviously another reviewer that has a heavy foot wondering why the fuel economy is bad. Choose the Kia if you want, I test drove both & preferred the ASX. After 2 weeks with the ASX petrol Aspire I have gotten to 8.7lts per 100kms in city traffic whilst driving economically and to the speed limit (test drove the Sportage for 10minutes and got 21lts per 100kms with careful driving not impressed). The ride isn?t as bad as this reviewer says, although it does get a tad bouncy on large speed humps, and body roll isn?t very noticeable on bends at all Go to Top Gear UKs review to confirm this. Steering wasn?t a problem either; I was driving comfortable in the car in no time once I got it and didn?t have to adjust too much from my previous Camry sedan. Power wise it?s a tad slow but can be pushed if necessary, too many whining reviewers about the 2.0lt engine power. I’ve carried 5 passengers comfortably and without much difference to when I?m driving alone. BTW The Dualis Ti CVT is NOT $29,990. Its from $34,885 (Nissans website) its on roads price is $38,380 which is $1500 less then what I paid for my aspire. For the $1500 you get more gear on the ASX. Please get your facts straight.

    Terrak Posted on 07 January 2011 11:20am
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