Tim Robson road tests and reviews the new Mitsubishi ASX with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
With the recent purchase of Mitsubishi by the Nissan Renault Alliance, the ASX is likely to soldier on in largely the same form until at least 2019, when it’s likely to be replaced by a vehicle that will share a platform and engines across all three brands.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
The ASX is available in five models across two grades. The entry level LS comes in both FWD petrol and AWD diesel form, as does the XLS.
The (rrp) price range extends from $25,000 to $37,000 (Mitsubishi doesn't quote an across-the-board drive away price).
The base LS petrol has the option of a six-speed manual transmission for a price of $25,000 or a CVT for $27,000, while the $31,500 FWD XLS is continuously variable transmission (CVT) only.
At the top of the price list, the $32,500 AWD LS and $37,000 XLS diesels come with a traditional six-speed automatic option only.
The LS models are equipped with climate control air conditioning, reversing camera with parking sensors, keyless entry, a 6.1-inch multimedia screen with Bluetooth (no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, though it offers ‘iPod control’), while our interior photos show manual seats with cloth trim and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Halogen headlights and foglights feature on the revised front end – but Mitsubishi has deleted the LED daytime running lamps of the previous models.
The top of the range XLS adds smart keyless entry and push button start, auto lights and wipers, a 7.0-inch colour multimedia screen with GPS sat nav, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity (no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto) and a panoramic roof.
The multimedia system still incorporates a CD player sound system with six speakers.
It also gets steering wheel-mounted audio and phone controls, leather trim, a rear view camera and sensors and heated front seats.
Both cars miss out on modern electronic aids like radar cruise, AEB, rear cross traffic alert and lane departure warning, and the platform is too old for the systems to be fitted should the car be updated again.
It also comes with 18-inch rims as standard, along with a space saver spare wheel.
When it comes to colours the palette includes solid white, 'Starlight Silver', 'Cool Silver', red, 'Lightning Blue', 'Titanium Grey' and black. Sadly for lovers of autumn tones, there's no orange or brown on offer.
Is there anything interesting about its design?
The ASX’s pragmatic, undramatic exterior design may not garner it many sideways glances, but it has earned it a legion of owners who appreciate it for that very fact.
The 2017 update has added a new grille and bumper bar treatment to align with the rest of the Mitsubishi range, while the rest of the exterior remains as it has for the last four years.
Thin black plastic overfenders, lower door sills and rear lower bumper treatment add a little bit of offroader illusion, while the new grille and bar arrangement is in direct contrast to a softer, less bejeweled rear.
It lacks the sloping roof design currently favoured by some more modern small SUVs, which gives it a more staid appearance (and more room inside to boot).
The four-model range rides on either 17- or 18-inch rims.
How practical is the space inside?
The big question for any SUV purchase is how many seats, and in the ASX it's five. Both the LS and XLS ranges share largely the same interior dimensions and features.
The top-spec XLS is much better equipped than others in the range, with satellite navigation as standard, along with leather trim, heated front seats and a powered driver’s pew.
There is very little in the way of features for rear seat passengers, with under-front seat vents and no power points. There’s sufficient head room back there, though, despite the presence of the sunroof, and knee and toe room are good behind an average-sized driver even for taller passengers.
The ASX’s rear seat is big enough for three teenage kids, and there is adequate headroom even for taller passengers. Two ISOFIX seat mounts are included.
There are no bottle holders in the doors for rear seaters, but there are cupholders in the centre arm rest. Front seaters get two cupholders and bottle holders capable of holding 1.5-litre beverages. The front centre armrest bin lid is padded and slides for ease of use, too.
There’s a fair bit of glare off the hard plastic dash, though, which can get annoying on a bright day.
Its 393 litres of boot space is around 130L larger than the smaller CX-3, while the LS’s rear extends to 1193 litres of luggage capacity when the seats are down. The two XLS models lose 50 litres of this dimension when all seats are folded flat, thanks to bulkier seats.
One irritation; when the rear seats are folded down, the seat belts remain in place, which takes away some of the usable load area’s dimensions.
The XLS’s driver's seat is good, though the short squab can dig into the driver's thighs on longer trips.
The XLS’s 7.0-inch colour touchscreen-based multimedia system sports digital radio, which is a nice addition, but the ipod connection is little more than a line-in device that offers limited functionality when compared to Apple CarPlay.
By comparison, the LS makes do with a smaller 6.0-inch system.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
Engine size is typical for the class. A 2.0-litre four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine is matched with a five-speed manual gearbox, available on the LS front-wheel drive (FWD) only, and an older-generation continuously variable transmission (CVT) that drives the front wheels in the ASX LS and XLS FWD models. It makes 110kW (147 horsepower in the old money) and 197Nm.
Mitsubishi added the 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel from the larger Outlander to the both the LS and XLS grades in 2012, along with a traditional six-speed automatic transmission and an AWC all-wheel drivetrain.
Engine specs of the direct injection common rail oiler are rated at 110kW of power, along with 360Nm of torque from a low 1500rpm.
It can tow 1400kg of braked trailer in diesel form and 1300kg in petrol specification, which will cover light pop-top caravans and camper trailers, as well as smaller boats.
For those keen on grabbing the owners manual and getting their hands dirty, oil type for the petrol engine is 15W-40, with 5W-30 required in the diesel.
How much fuel does it consume?
Mitsubishi rates the ASX LS petrol at 7.4 litres per 100km on the combined fuel economy cycle, while we recorded 9.3L/100km after 330km via the dash.
The ASX XLS diesel is rated at 6.0 litres per 100km on the combined fuel economy cycle, while we recorded 7.2L/100km after 300km via the dash.
Fuel tank capacity is 63 litres for petrol models, and tank size in the diesels is 63 litres.
There is no LPG-powered model available.
What's it like to drive?
The front-wheel drive (FWD) petrol-powered versions of the ASX are showing their relatively old age, especially when compared to newer vehicles in the market. When you need to get on the gas it's clear no 0-100km/h acceleration records are under threat. The engine is an underperformer, the CVT is pretty awful and the steering system is not very pleasant.
Ride and handling are acceptable, however, and the ASX does little wrong – it just feels cheap and old while doing it.
The 4 wheel drive diesel cars, thankfully, are a much nicer proposition, with much improved steering, excellent ride, good noise suppression and reasonable levels performance thanks to the extra torque of the turbo-diesel.
The all-wheel drive cars also have a modicum of off road ability, thanks to decent suspension travel and Mitsubishi’s sophisticated AWC system, which can be turned on via a button on the centre console.
Although this isn't an off road review, it's worth noting the ground clearance of the AWD XLS is actually slightly lower than that of the FWD ASX at 180mm (versus 205mm), thanks to the AWD gear hanging under the car.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
The age of the ASX means it doesn’t – and won’t ever – have any modern electronic safety aids like AEB or radar cruise control. It does have emergency brake assist, however, and seven airbags.
All models are rated five out of five on the ANCAP safety scale.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?
Mitsubishi offers a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, four years of free roadside assistance and a three-year capped price service program for the ASX range.
Due at every 15,000km or 12 months, each service costs $350, $500 and $630 respectively for the diesel, and $230 for each of the three services for the petrol model.
The servicing arrangement will expire if the car travels more than 52,500km within the three-year period, though.
The ASX enjoys strong resale value and a reputation for being a low-maintenance, worry-free car, with little history of recalls, reliability issues or common problems to report. But for faults or complaints, including diesel problems, turbo problems, timing belt or chain issues, as well as transmission problems, please see our Mitsubishi ASX problems page.