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Just seven months after launching a refreshed ASX range Mitsubishi has added a new model to the stable. For the first time ASX will have an all-wheel-drive, turbodiesel variant with an automatic transmission.
The company also confirmed at the launch of the latest ASX that the current 1.8-litre turbo diesel, only available with a manual shifter, will be phased out later in the year. The smaller diesel was a stop-gap model to introduce diesel to the small SUV range.
Mitsubishi’s market research shows automatic diesels in the compact SUV segment in Australia dominate sales, well ahead of manual versions. Mitsubishi is not the first importer to have added an auto diesel to their stable. Subaru introduced a diesel auto to its Outback AWD range early this year. The research also found more women than men are buying ASX-size SUVs - indicating their dominant use as a family-friendly wagon.
The ASX diesel auto drivetrain is a direct lift out of the larger Mitsubishi Outlander SUV. There are two equipment levels for the new diesel ASX, the ASX 2.2 at $31,990 and the ASX 2.2 Aspire at $36,490. The new ASX 2.2 offers combined fuel consumption of 5.8 litres/100 km - just above the 5.7 litres/100 km delivered by the current 1.8 litre ASX diesel manual.
Emissions are also line ball and meet tough European standards. The new diesel has a braked towing rate of 1400 kg while the variant tips the scales at 1530 kg. The new engine is hooked up to a six-speed conventional transmission with a flick-across option to change manually. The Aspire variant also offers steering wheel paddles to change cogs.
We took the both ASX 2.2 AWD auto diesel variants for a run through the Adelaide Hills towards Murray Bridge giving the opportunity to test handling and acceleration and the diesel/auto combination in a variety of road conditions. After almost 300 kilometres we can say this new variant is the pick of the bunch offering economy and performance in a neat package.
The turbo-diesel and the 6-speed auto are a good match and the SUV is quick both off the mark and the vital passing range between 80 - 110 km/h range. Gear changes are slick and smooth. At 110 km/h the new ASX is ticking over at around 1800 km/h ensuring low fuel consumption for highway running.
Mitsubishi ASX product planner, Ania Ciccarello, said growth in the small or compact SUV segment was strong with sales doubling between 2010 when 30,000 were sold, rising to 60,683 in 2012. It was a segment dominated by women and parents which research shows are placing high importance on reliability, safety, value and economy.
The ASX comes with a 5-star ANCAP safety rating with seven airbags, reversing camera, stability control, hill start, Iso-Fix children's seat anchors. The top-of-the-line Aspire also gains Mitsubishi's Multi Communication System (MMCS) as standard and uses a bigger 7-inch colour touchscreen with satellite navigation with 3D mapping and SD car input.
Aspire also gains leather trim, smart key entry with a one-touch start system, auto rain-sensing wipers, auto dusk sensing headlights, power driver's seat, front row heated seats, panoramic roof and LED lighting strip.
Mitsubishi expects to sell around 150 ASX 2.2 auto AWD diesels a month. Interestingly, Mitsubishi Australia is dropping the 2WD Challenger from the line-up to concentrate on it's tough 4WD off-roader capability.
The Mitsubishi ASX range is (pricing as of July 2013):
ASX 2WD 5MT: from $25,990
ASX 2WD CVT: from $28,240
ASX 2WD Aspire 5MT: from $28,990
ASX 2WD Aspire CVT: from $31,240
ASX 4WD 2.2L Turbo Diesel 6AT: from $31,990
ASX 4WD Aspire 1.8L Turbo Diesel 6MT: from $34,990
ASX 4WD Aspire CVT: from $34,990
ASX 4WD Aspire 2.2 Turbo Diesel 6AT: from $36,490