Mitsubishi ASX VS Hyundai Venue
- Looks much more 2020 than before
- AEB now standard across the board
- Still a very handy size and shape
- Feels like a 2010 car
- Questionably old ANCAP rating
- Could do with the Eclipse Cross engine
- Ride and handling is lovely
- Big touchscreen in cheapest models
- Looks and drives better than the Accent
- Engine works hard on hills
- So does the automatic gearbox
- Steel wheels are nobody's friend
I could be the first person to compare the Mitsubishi ASX with a Porsche 911, but bear with me. You may know the story that the Porsche 928 was designed to replace the 911, but the popularity of the 911 kept it selling alongside the 928 and eventually outliving it.
The ASX seems to be emulating this tale, to a lesser degree at least. The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross that was introduced in 2018 is widely understood to have been intended as the ASX's replacement, but as it soldiers through its tenth year on the Australian market well and truly outselling the Eclipse Cross and every other small SUV on the market, the triple-diamond brand has just given the ASX its biggest birthday yet.
The 2020 model may look like an all-new car from the front, but from the rear it’s clearly more of a significant update if you look past the fresh details.
Read More: Find Mitsubishi ASXs for sale here
Given previous versions of the ASX have trailed behind most of its rivals in terms of design, refinement and dynamics for some time, have they done enough to warrant your choice over the numerous much fresher small SUVs out there?
We were among the first to experience the new ASX at its Australian media launch last week to find out.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Hyundai’s Venue is a step up from the Accent. And we mean that both figuratively and literally - not only is the brand's newest SUV a taller vehicle than the entry-level hatchback it's essentially replacing, it is also a better vehicle in almost every way.
It's not all good news, though. With the Accent not long for this world, the Venue will form the new entry point to the Hyundai family. And with a starting price of $20k for this smallest of small SUVs, it's an entry point that is around $5k higher than it has been for years.
Which leaves us with one big question for this small SUV, then; is it worth it?
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
The ASX success story is one of automotive’s true enigmas. It has done an amazing job of ticking the boxes to stay current, and the 2020 update will probably help it stay at the front of the sales race for some time to come.
But a quick test drive of any of its main rivals will show what difference almost a decade of fundamental improvements can make, so as always, it’s important to try a few options before making your choice.
Despite its age, you could still do a lot worse than choosing the ASX though.
The sweet spot of the updated range is arguably the LS, given it can be had for just over $30k on the road, with handy equipment levels and all safety gear included. The 2.0-litre engine also does the job just fine in my opinion.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
With small SUVs still selling like high-riding hot cakes, there’s no doubt the Venue is the right car at the right time for Hyundai. It won't make up for all the sales lost by the Accent's demise, but those who do buy one will end up with a much better car for their money.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.
The 2020 ASX’s look is all new from the windscreen forward, with LED headlights and the latest iteration of Mitsubishi’s dynamic shield nose to bring the brand’s second best-selling model in line with other more recent designs in the line-up.
All other sheet metal is unchanged, so no change to overall dimensions, but the rear end has been treated to new lights and a reshaped bumper.
The colour options have also been refreshed, and now include white, Starlight pearl white, Sterling silver metallic, Black pearl, Lightning blue pearl, Titanium metallic, Red diamond, and Sunshine orange on GSR and Exceed only.
Read More: Compare models with the ASX here
Let's start with the obvious; the Venue looks better and more modern than the Accent it essentially replaces, both inside and out.
How much better depends on how much you spend, of course (the steel wheels on the Go grate like a dentist drill in 2019) but it is a sharp-looking SUV no matter what you spend.
More a hatch on stilts than a genuine SUV, Hyundai has done well to hide its light-car credentials behind a wide, strong grille, lightly bulging wheel arches and standard roof rails, even on cheapest Go model. It gives the front-wheel-drive only Venue a kin of ready-for-anything look, even if that anything is unlikely to include anything more challenging than the ramp at your local shopping centre.
Inside, though, does hint more strongly at its position at the beginning of the Hyundai range, with cloth seats and manual air-conditioning (in all but the most expensive model), as well as a key you have to insert and turn to start the engine (remember that?).
As you expect at this price point, there is no shortage of hard plastics, but the design is clean and simple, and the huge touchscreen dials up the wow factor somewhat, as does the moulded dash element that doubles as a kind-of grab handle.
Mitsubishi got the size and shape of the ASX so right in the very early days of the small SUV body type, which has certainly helped its ongoing popularity. Mitsubishi points out that its hip point has resonated particularly well with buyers, which makes for easy ingress and egress compared with traditional small cars.
There’s nothing new for 2020 in terms of practicality, but there continues to be heaps of room on the back seat behind my front seating position for my 172cm height.
It’s still got the standard twin cupholders in the centre console and in the rear armrest, plus bottle holders in the front doors but still none in the rear.
Parents will appreciate that such an old design manages to have ISOFIX child seat mounts in the outboard positions, but the only rear air vents you get are still under the front seats and non adjustable.
The boot is still a decent size that should easily cover four passengers, but it’s worth noting that the ASX spec sheet says the Exceed’s subwoofer eats up 50 litres of storage space. Mitsubishi’s press material quotes 393 litres VDA, but the 1193-litre VDA figure with the back seat folded drops to 1143 litres VDA for the Exceed.
A space saver spare still sees duty under the boot floor, and there’s a smattering of small storage compartments under there as well.
It’s worth remembering that, while the Venue feels more substantial than the Accent it replaces, it is actually slightly shorter, and rides on a smaller wheelbase. So, it’s no behemoth. In fact, at 4040mm in length, 1170 in width and 1592mm in height, it is just 20mm longer than a Mazda2.
Inside, though, you’ll find the space on offer surprisingly generous. Front-seat riders can travel with no awkward shoulder rubbing, while in the back, there’s definitely room for two adults (well, as long as they’re my 175cm, that is), with enough clear air between your knees and the seat in front, and your head and the roof lining, to ensure you don’t feel overly claustrophobic.
That said, there aren’t much in the way of niceties for backseat riders to enjoy. The touchpoint are all trimmed in hard plastics, and there’s nary an air vent, charging point or cupholder to be found, even in the top-spec Elite model.
Price and features
Before we drill into the nitty gritty of the new ASX’s price and specs, the headline changes have been the addition of two sports-flavoured new trim levels and ongoing drive-away pricing has been added across the range. The latter helps to disguise the fact that list pricing has gone up across the board.
The new MR and GSR trim levels arrive next month, and sit among the existing variants to represent a new ES, MR, LS, GSR, Exceed model walk from bottom to top. The new trim levels are aimed at attracting buyers who would have otherwise chosen the Lancer small sedan, which was retired from the Mitsubishi range earlier this year.
Read More: Find used Mitsubishi ASXs for sale here
The top two models have upgraded to the familiar 2.4-litre petrol engine from the Outlander and numerous other Mitsubishis over the years, while all other ASXs continue with the 2.0-litre petrol it’s used since it first arrived.
There’s new seat trim for every variant beneath the Exceed, and all versions finally come standard with AEB that works at speeds up to 80km/h.
As before, the automatic ES can be had with an advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) pack for another $2500, which is detailed below under Safety.
The MR adds a number of blacked-out exterior components such as 18-inch wheels, grille and door mirrors, as well as rear parking sensors, privacy glass and push-button start for $28,240 drive away.
The next rung up the ASX ladder is the $30,240 (drive away) LS that gains privacy glass, push-button start and chrome interior door handles.
The GSR pairs the MR’s blacked-out accessories with a six-speaker sound system, rear spoiler and micro-suede interior with red-stitching for $32,240 drive away.
Finally, the top-spec Exceed is now $35,740 drive away, but aside from upgrading to the 2.4-litre engine it gains a panoramic sunroof, leather-appointed seats with front seat heaters and in-built satellite navigation.
Mitsubishi is also offering a number of factory accessories within option packages, with the Adventure kit, Protection pack and Style set all offering discounted pricing over individual options.
The Adventure kit costs $1699 and includes roof rack cross bars, bonnet protector, headlight protectors, nudge bar, cargo liner, and boot flap scuff guard, with a net saving of $280.
The Protection pack costs $999 and includes, outer scuff plates, bonnet protector, headlight protectors, weather shields, cargo liner, and carpet mats, with a net saving of $231.
The Style set costs $2199 and includes an alloy fuel lid, front skid plate, rear skid plate, tailgate protector, chrome door handles and silver mirror caps, with a net saving of $442.
The Venue might well start at a touch under twenty grand, but it still represents a sizeable step up from the cheapest Accent, which, as it enters its final months on sale, you can still pick up for around $15 grand.
Happily for Hyundai, the Venue is also a literal step up from the Accent, and so places the brand's newest and smallest SUV into one of Australia’s fastest-growing new vehicle segments. And while that won't make up for the Accent’s soon-to-be-missing sales volume entirely, it will go some way to filling the void.
The Venue arrives in three trim levels; the entry-grade Go, the mid-spec Active and the top-spec Elite.
By Hyundai’s own admission, not many people will land on the Go ($19,990 manual, $21,990 automatic), which does arrives with niceties like an 8.0-inch touchscreen that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto equipped, automatic headlights and cruise control, but also makes do with 15-inch steel wheels.
The step to the Active ($21,990 manual, $23,490 auto) is $1500, and it’s one Hyundai thinks most people will happily make. Doing so will earn you 15-inch alloys, LED DRLs, nicer leather interior treatments and a better six-speaker stereo.
Finally, the top-spec Elite ($25,490 auto only) adds navigation and digital radio, single-zone climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels, plus a more funky look courtesy of its contrasting two-tone roof.
Engine & trans
Aside from the new styling, the 2020 ASX’s biggest change is the 2.4-litre petrol engine from the Outlander and a bunch of other Mitsubishis that is now fitted to the GSR and Exceed top two tiers.
Its 123kW and 222Nm are 13kW and 25Nm proud of the 2.0-litre engine’s numbers, which isn’t a big difference for almost half a litre more capacity.
The rest of range still comes with the 2.0 litre petrol, and all ASXs are fitted with a CVT auto, aside from the ES which can still be had with a five speed manual.
It would have been nice to see the 110kW/250Nm 1.5 turbo from the Eclipse Cross make an appearance, which is actually a pretty sweet unit thanks to its low-down turbo urge, but the cheaper non-turbo units clearly help the ASX’s price competitiveness.
It's a pretty straightforward engine line-up on offer in the Venue. And that’s mostly because there’s exactly one engine to choose from, no matter what you spend - a 1.6-litre petrol unit good for 90kW and 151Nm.
The Venue also gets a tricky traction system that, using throttle mapping and ESC settings, can be configures for mud, sand or snow. A true off-roader this front-wheel-drive SUV ain’t, but some light stuff should be possible.
In terms of fuel consumption, the 2.4 officially only uses 0.3L/100km more than the 2.0-litre. But with official combined figures of 7.6L/100km and 7.9L/100km respectively, both are definitely at the thirstier end of the small SUV class.
Both ASX engines will happily run on 91 RON regular unleaded fuel type and all have a 63-litre fuel tank.
Happily, the Venue accepts cheaper 91RON fuel, and should sip around 7.0 litres per hundred kilometres on the combined cycle, regardless of transmission.
Emissions are pegged at 160g/km with the manual, and 165g/km with the automatic.
The Venue’s fuel tank will hold 45 litres.
The ASX has been tweaked here and there over the years, but nothing mechanical aside from the 2.4-litre engine option this year. So it still feels much the same as it did about a decade ago.
Which will likely feel pretty nice to you if you’re upgrading from something older with plenty of kilometres on the clock, but compared to most of the ASX’s competition, it now feels pretty old.
Read More: Read all Mistubishi ASX Q&As here
Aside from the relatively unchanged interior design, the steering doesn’t feel as connected as we’ve come to expect, general refinement is a bit lacking and there really isn’t anything special about the mechanical package or the handling.
The 2.4-litre engine does offer some bigger numbers than the 2.0-litre, but you wouldn’t call it sporty, and while it has the same tow rating (1300kg braked towing) as the rest of the ASX lineup, it would probably stand up better to a heavy load.
We also had a steer of the 2.0-litre, and you have to be paying attention to notice the difference between it and the 2.4 with just two passengers aboard.
The biggest surprise of our drive experience was how ordinary the sound quality was when using the Bluetooth to make a phone call in the Exceed. Despite having the premium sound system, the fuzzy sound was noted at either end of the conversation and only seemed to be being transmitted through a left front speaker.
What you make of the Venue largely depends on your, erm, venue. And yes, that is the kind of terrible pun that makes a dad joke seem like champagne comedy, but stick with me for a moment.
The Venue, you’d have to think, will be driven almost exclusively in Australia’s urban centres, and it’s here that it seriously shines. The engine is smooth and unobtrusive as you climb to city speeds, and the six-speed automatic shuffles through its gears with minimal fuss, too.
More good stuff? It’s quiet in the cabin, and the centre screen is not only big, clear and easy to use, but also makes the Venue a nicer, more modern-feeling place to spend time than the more basic-feeling Accent.
Some of the shine does start to wear off away from town, though, where the 1.6-litre engine’s 91kW need to be strong-armed into action, with flat-footed acceleration adding an unwelcome harshness to the drive experience.
Steep hills are a natural enemy of cars like these, too, and so expect the usually sorted automatic gearbox to jump from third gear to fourth, then back to third, as it tries to squeeze every last ounce of power from the engine. These are mere foibles, though, and in town you won’t even notice them.
The ride is sublime, even over sudden rough spots or mid-corner bumps. In fact, the steering and handling setup is so surprising that you will genuinely find yourself grinning on a twisting road, and longing for more power from that engine.
Short answer? The Venue is a step up from the Accent in more than just its ride height.
All ASXs have had a maximum five star safety rating since 2016, but it’s worth noting that this rating is based on being tested all the way back in 2014. This five star rating carries across to the new model regardless.
As mentioned above, all versions of the ASX now come with AEB that works at speeds up to 80km/h. It will also detect pedestrians at speeds up to 65km/h.
With the base ES, you still have to pay $2500 extra for lane departure warning, auto high beam, reverse sensors, blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert, and it’s worth noting that this isn’t available on the MR. The MR does come standard with reversing sensors, however.
Aside from the above, all ASXs come with dual front airbags, plus driver’s knee bag, front side airbags and full-length curtain airbags in addition to stability control.
Stepping up to the Active, however, adds rear parking sensors, while shelling out for the Elite buys you blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Venue is yet to be officially crash tested, but Hyundai says it expects a four-star result, owing to the lack of radar-based safety systems.
Mitsubishi is offering a seven-year/150,000km warranty deal until the end of 2019, which builds on the brand's existing five-year/130,000km plan.
The current deal puts it towards the top of the market for warranty coverage, but the regular five year plan is now about the status quo for mainstream manufacturers, which often also have unlimited kilometre coverage.
The seven year warranty deal includes free scheduled servicing for the first two years, but the standard service plan includes generous 12 month/15,000km intervals.
Only the first three services are capped though, but are now now $41 cheaper each time at a very competitive $199 per service.
Mitsubishi includes roadside assist as part of the ownership plan at no cost.
It's the full five-year, unlimited-kilometre Hyundai treatment here, with service intervals pegged at 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.
Hyundai’s capped-price servicing program prices the first five services at $259, $259, $339, $459 and $259, for a total $1575 over the warranty period.