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Mitsubishi ASX


Infiniti Q30

Summary

Mitsubishi ASX

The world is chock-a-block with enduring mysteries. The Loch Ness Monster, people who consider Taylor Swift's anodyne pop 'classic' material and the eternal descent of global politics.

To that I will add (perhaps unkindly), the Mitsubishi ASX. It's old - very old - and competes in a market full of interesting, stylish and gadget-stacked offerings from other makers. Including, oddly enough, Mitsubishi's own Eclipse Cross.

Mitsubishi is having a bit of an Alfa Romeo phase as it seemingly prevaricates and pontificates about what to do next.

Being the newest member of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, there's a massive toy box of stuff to pick from before hitting the go button on an ASX replacement. Or, as it turns out, another one.

Thing is, in Australia at least, the ASX doesn't need a replacement, it's walloping everything in its class. For 2020, the evergreen, ever-daggy ASX gets a(nother) facelift, a few spec tweaks and, one expects - nay, hopes - renewed vigour.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.7L/100km
Seating5 seats

Infiniti Q30

Welcome to the future - where your Mercedes-Benz is a Nissan and your Nissan is a Mercedes-Benz. 

Lost already? Let me catch you up. Infiniti is the premium arm of Nissan, in much the same way Lexus is the premium arm of Toyota, and the Q30 is Infiniti’s hatchback. 

Thanks to the state of various global manufacturing alliances the Q30 is mechanically, largely a previous-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class, with a similar arrangement seeing the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class ute comprised largely of Nissan Navara underpinnings.

Recently, the Q30 has had its range of variants trimmed from a confusing five down to two, and the one we’re testing here is the top-spec Sport.

Make sense? I hope so. The Q30 Sport joined me on an 800km trip along the east coast in the height of summer. So, can it make the most of its German/Japanese roots? Read on to find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.3L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Mitsubishi ASX6.5/10

If I seem like I've been too hard on the manual ASX, you may well be right. It's really not my kind of car, but I know Mitsubishi can do better. What winds me up about it is that the company knows it doesn't have to, because the automatic ASX continues to fly off the forecourts.

Of course it doesn't in manual form and it's fairly easy to see why. It's not particularly cheap, doesn't have a lot of stuff (apart from a tonne of space) and I'd be surprised if dealers even mention its existence to shoppers.

If your heart is set on an ASX, skip the manual and use the saved energy to talk a dealer down the extra to get a CVT version. And there's a new mystery to add to the collection - I just recommended a CVT over a manual.


Infiniti Q306.9/10

The Q30 Sport is a left-field choice in the premium hatch segment. For those who don’t care about badge equity and are looking for something different, the Q30 provides maybe 70 per cent the feel of its well-established competition while offering decent value courtesy of standard safety and spec inclusions.

The biggest letdown is how much better it could be with just a little extra in every department. Even in this top-spec the drive experience is a bit generic, and it’s missing an up-to-date multimedia experience limiting its appeal to a younger audience.

Even with its promising mixed heritage, the Q30 hardly feels more than the sum of its parts.

Is the Q30 Sport different enough that you’d consider it over its premium hatch rivals? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Design

Mitsubishi ASX

The first ASX was a style-free zone. It had virtually no adornments. The styling was detectable only with a device with the sort of sensitivity that can detect an alien burping on a planet circling Alpha Centauri.

Did the job for a few years before another going-over made it look almost contemporary, but it stuck with the gawky profile.

This latest update puts a whole new, ill-fitting front end on the ASX but it looks a heck of a lot better. The 'Dynamic Shield' face from elsewhere in the range makes the car look fresh out of the box from the front, with Triton-esque slim headlights and a properly chunky look.

The new clamshell-style bonnet is nifty, or would be if the panel gaps weren't all over the place.

Then you see the side and rear and realise it's just the same old ASX with a bit of makeup on and new LED tail-lights that, to be completely fair, would look pretty good on any other car.

Amusingly, Mitsubishi has also slapped the Dynamic Shield on the Mirage - it really works on the ASX, it really doesn't on the tiddly hatch.

The cabin is the same old thing, with a natty new pattern on the seats that looks quite fetching, and a couple of new bits of trim here and there.

Ahead of the shifter is a piece of trim with an unexplained circular cut-out that is filled with the same patterned plastic. It really irrirates me and has been there for years, but at least the weird cupholder with a little sign that told you not to use as a cupholder is gone.


Infiniti Q307/10

The Q30 drew more than just looks for its badge. It genuinely looks like a concept car from a motor show stand. Not the paper mache Mars rover early prototype kind, more like the six-months-before-production kind.

It’s all swoopy with curves cutting all down the sides, and Infiniti has done a good job imprinting the brand’s signature design queues – like the chrome-framed grille and notched C-pillar - on the front and rear three-quarter views.

It’s genuinely hard to tell it shares major componentry with the last-gen (W176) A-Class from the outside and I’d place the overall look somewhere between Mazda and Lexus’ design languages for better or worse.

While the front is swoopy and resolved the rear is a bit busy with lines everywhere and bits of chrome and black trim all over the place. The tapered roofline and high bumpers set it apart from your regular hatchback fare. 

It might grab the eye for the wrong reasons, but it certainly gives the Q30 a slick look when viewed in profile. I wouldn’t call it a bad looking car, but it is divisive and will appeal only to certain tastes.

Inside is simple and plush. Perhaps a little too simple when compared with the new (W177) A-Class with its entirely digital dashboard or the 1 Series with its M bits. One could even argue the Audi A3 has done ‘simplicity’ better.

The seats are nice in the two-tone white-on-black trim and the Alcantara roof is a premium touch, but the rest of the dash is a bit too basic and dated. There’s a smattering of buttons down the centre stack which are replaced with more intuitive touchscreen functions on most rivals, and the 7.0-inch touchscreen looks small, distantly embedded in the dash.

The materials are all nice to the touch, with most important touch-points clad in leather, but it also feels a little claustrophobic, with the abundance of dark trim, thick roof pillars and a low roof-line, especially in the back seat. The switchgear, which is mostly dropped straight out of a Benz A-Class, feels good.

Practicality

Mitsubishi ASX

The one thing right about the Mitsubishi is the space (cue reverb effect).

For a compact SUV, it's huge inside. Front and rear passengers luxuriate in reasonably comfortable seats with plenty of head and legroom. Front and rear rows each have a pair of cupholders but only the front doors will hold a bottle.

Boot space is very generous, starting at 393 litres and with the rear seats out of the way, 1193 litres. If you end up choosing another ASX, be aware that the Exceed's fully-hectic sub-woofer is so fully hectic it swallows up 50 litres to deliver sick beats.


Infiniti Q306/10

Infiniti calls the Q30 a “crossover” rather than a hatchback and this is best reflected through its pumped ride height. Rather than hugging the ground like the A-Class or 1 Series, the Q30 sits propped up, almost like a small SUV.

There’s also the QX30 which is an even more pumped version of this car complete with plastic guards in the vein of Subaru’s XV. The QX30 is also your only way to all-wheel drive now that the Q30 is front-wheel drive only. 

While the extra ride height means you won’t have to worry about scraping expensive body panels on speedbumps or steep ramps you won’t be wanting to get too brave off the tarmac.

Interior space is fine for front passengers with plenty of arm and legroom, but back seat passengers are left with a small, dark space which feels especially claustrophobic. Headroom is not great no matter which seat you’re in. In the front seat I could almost rest my head on the sun-visor (I’m 182cm tall) and the back seat was not much better.

Rear passengers do score nice seat trim and two air-conditioning vents though, so they haven’t totally been forgotten.

There’s average amounts of storage up front and in the back, with small bottle holders in each of the four doors, two on the transmission tunnel and a tiny trench – useful for keys maybe – in front of the air-conditioning controls.

Even the centre console box is shallow, despite a large opening. Once I had collected enough loose objects on my trip I started to run out of room for things in the cabin.

There are nettings on the back of the front seats and an odd extra one on the passenger’s side of the transmission tunnel.

Power outlets come in the form of a single USB port in the dash and a 12-volt outlet in the centre box.

The boot is a much better story despite the swoopy roofline with 430 litres of space available. That’s bigger than the A-Class (370L), 1 Series (360L), A3 (380L) and CT200h (375L). Needless to say, it ate up two large duffle bags and some extra items we brought with us for our week-long trip.

This is due to its impressive depth, but it does come at a cost. The Q30 only has the sound system’s base and an inflator kit under the boot floor. There’s no spare for long distance trips.

One irritation I have to mention is the shift-lever, which was annoying in its tilt-shift operation. Often when trying to change to drive from reverse or vice versa it would get stuck in neutral. Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with a shifter which locks in position…

Price and features

Mitsubishi ASX

One of the weirdest things about the ASX is that it's not very cheap, with one exception - the entry-level ES with the manual transmission, landing at $23,990. Or, more accurately, $24,990 drive-away at the time of writing.

I hold a deep suspicion that it won't take much arm-twisting to reduce the price considerably. In fact, a slightly stern look should do it.

The ES spec includes 18-inch alloys (where competitors will sling you steel wheels with hubcaps), a four-speaker stereo, climate control, reversing camera, remote central locking, cruise control, LED headlights, leather wheel and shifter, power folding rear vision mirrors and a space-saver spare. Slim, but useful pickings.

A new 8.0-inch screen sits proudly in a new-looking centre stack with DAB+, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The sound is pretty ordinary and the Mitsubishi software has a very 1980s Stranger Things feel about it, but the hardware is okay and works well with smart phones.

You get the distinct impression Mitsubishi has learnt what 'just enough' means for its buyers. That attitude permeates the whole car.

There are seven colours, one free (white), five for a puzzling $740 and one for a scandalous $940. For comparison, Mazda's (beautiful) premium colours are $300 and there are just two of them.


Infiniti Q307/10

If you’re shopping in this segment, there’s a good chance you’re not looking for a bargain buy, but the Q30 shines in some areas its competition doesn’t.

A promising start is the complete lack of a lengthy and expensive options list with items which should be standard. In fact, apart from a reasonable set of accessories and the $1200 premium 'Majestic White' paint, the Q30 has no options in the traditional sense.

The base Q30 scores 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with high-beam assist, heated leather seats, flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, leather trim on the doors and dash, Alcantara (synthetic suede) roof-lining and a 7.0-inch multimedia touchscreen supporting DAB+ digital radio and built-in navigation.

Our Sport adds a 10-speaker Bose audio system (which could have been better…) dual-zone climate control, a fixed panoramic sunroof, fully-electric front seats and Nissan’s 360-degree ‘around view monitoring’ parking suite.

It might have premium aspirations, but value-wise Q30 is still specified like a Nissan.

The standard safety suite is also reasonably impressive, and you can read more about it in the safety section of this review.

Our Q30 Sport comes in at a total of $46,888 (MSRP) which is still premium money. The price pits it against the BMW 120i M-Sport (eight-speed auto, $46,990), Mercedes-Benz A200 (seven-speed DCT, $47,200) and fellow Japanese premium hatch act - the Lexus CT200h F-Sport (CVT, $50,400).

Herein lies the Q30’s biggest problem. Brand recognition. Everybody knows the BMW and Benz hatches by virtue of their badges alone and the Lexus CT200h is known by those who care about it.

Even without the extensive options list, it makes the price of entry against such established competition tough. While you might see a couple of them around Sydney, the Q30 is a relatively rare sight which garnered more than a few quizzical looks in the towns of NSW’s mid-north coast.

The standard spec is also missing the all-important Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. It rendered the 7.0-inch multimedia screen clumsy and largely useless, although the old-fashioned built-in nav gives peace-of-mind when you’re out of phone reception range.

If you have an Apple phone you can make use of the iPod music playback feature via the USB port.

Engine & trans

Mitsubishi ASX

The dowdy 2.0-litre four-cylinder is unchanged (again) for 2020, with 110kW/197Nm. Those figures are class-competitive because as I always say, there appears to be legislation governing naturally aspirated compact SUV power outputs.

The basest of base specs has a five-speed manual gearbox (they're more common than you think, so I don't have a joke or exclamation of surprise here) driving the front wheels only.

No more all-wheel drive in the ASX, you have to go to the Eclipse Cross for that. Which is a pity, because the AWD ASX was almost compelling.


Infiniti Q307/10

For 2019 the Q30 has had its list of engines trimmed from three to just one. The diesel and smaller 1.6-litre petrol engines have been culled, leaving a 2.0-litre petrol.

Thankfully, it’s a strong unit producing a once-V6-range 155kW/350Nm across a wide band from 1200-4000rpm.

It feels responsive and isn’t let down by a slick-shifting seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.

The new-generation A-Class equivalent, even in 2.0-litre A250 guise produces less torque with outputs of 165kW/250Nm, so for the money the Infiniti scores a solid serving of extra punch.

Fuel consumption

Mitsubishi ASX

Mitsubishi's official fuel figure weighs in at 7.7L/100km which, as I have discovered in the past, is a long way off reality.

A week in the manual delivered an even worse figure than the CVT I last drove, getting through 12.4L/100km (11.5 for the CVT) in the week I had it.

Granted, it was just me driving it, the usual softening influence of my wife was not available to the ASX.


Infiniti Q306/10

Over my week-long test the Q30 returned a figure of 9.0L/100km. I was a little disappointed with this figure given much of the distance covered was cruising at freeway speeds. 

It’s made worse when you pitch it against the claimed/combined figure of 6.3L/100km (not sure how you could achieve that…) and the fact that I left the irritating stop-start system on for much of the time.

For a leader in the luxury hatch class consider the Lexus CT200h which makes full use of Toyota’s hybrid drive and pitches a fuel consumption figure of 4.4L/100km.

The Q30 has a 56-litre fuel tank and takes a minimum of 95 RON premium unleaded.

Driving

Mitsubishi ASX

For some reason I was hoping the manual ASX would be a better car to drive than its CVT siblings. That proves two things. The first, is I have a short memory, and the second... I have a short memory.

I last drove a manual ASX five or so years ago. It was not my favourite car then owing to the engine buzz, the long, light clutch and the gear lever stolen from a pole vaulter's kit bag.

And for all the same reasons, some half a decade later, the manual ASX is still not very good.

Adding to the ASX's issues is the fact that having better access to the power and torque means a propensity to spin the inside wheel with moderate steering lock and throttle applied together.

The tyres screech away with entertaining abandon and the traction control light comes on like that flickering, distant lightning 20 minutes after a storm has blown through.

The CVT's torque steer is one of the aforementioned great mysteries - despite not having a huge amount of torque, the auto model still manages to pull the steering wheel under power.

That's all manageable, though. What isn't is the buzzing you get from the pedals. Once you're moving you realise that you don't have your feet planted on the shopping channel vibrating foot thing.

The accelerator, brake and clutch all have a hotline to a beehive. I got out more than once shaking my right leg because it felt like it was asleep.

Once you're over all that, you find that the ASX is a bit lumpy and bumpy around town, despite a multi-link rear end.

Cars like the Hyundai Kona and Nissan Qashqai make the most of that tricky bit of suspension, but not the ASX.

It's weird to ask extra then deliver a ride that isn't demonstrably better than a cheaper torsion beam set-up (sharp speed bumps being the only exception).

The steering is also slow, so you're constantly twirling the wheel when you're moving around the city and the burbs. And the electric assistance is all over the place, making you wonder what you're actually doing.

Slow steering is fine for a car if you can take it off road, but the ASX isn't an off-roader anymore.

And after all of that, the manual shifter is so long that if your grip is anything other than completely orthodox, you can actually trap your hand between the dashboard and the gear knob when you go for third.

I think you've probably got the point. This is not the pick of the ASX range, not by a long way. And the manual makes it worse in the city, not better.


Infiniti Q307/10

Thanks to its shared underpinnings with the A-Class the Q30 Sport drives largely like you would expect a premium hatch to drive. It’s just lacking a bit of character.

The engine is responsive, the transmission is fast and the availability of peak torque from just 1200rpm will lead to spinning the front wheels if caution is not applied. Power is no real issue.

Although Infiniti says it has tuned the Q30 in Japan and Europe, the ride has an undeniably Germanic flavour. It doesn’t feel quite as tight as the A-Class or 1 Series but it doesn’t feel as soft as the CT200h, so it strikes a decent balance.

The Q30 uses MacPherson strut suspension in the front and multi-link at the rear, more suited to a premium car than the torsion bar rear on the new Benz A 200.

The wheel has a nice amount of feedback, and thankfully doesn’t use the larger Q50’s strange ‘Direct Adaptive Steering’ which has no mechanical connection between the driver and the road.

If you’ve driven a decently-specified A-Class before the drive experience will feel familiar. The added ride height seems to remove a bit of feel from the corners, however.

There’s also the inclusion of three drive modes – Economy, Sport and Manual. Economy mode seems to be the default with Sport simply holding gears for longer. Steering-wheel mounted paddle-shifters could be used to mill through the seven gears in 'Manual' mode, although this didn’t add much to the experience.

The addition of active cruise control and adaptive high beams proved to be fantastic for reducing fatigue on long highway stints during the night, but the lack of a padded surface on the inside of the transmission tunnel proved uncomfortable for the driver’s knee on longer trips.

I persisted with the stop-start system to test it, but it proved slow and irritating. Under normal circumstances it would be the first thing I’d turn off.

Visibility was also a bit limited out the rear three quarter courtesy of the low, swoopy C-pillars.

Safety

Mitsubishi ASX

The ASX arrives with seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward AEB (up to 80km/h), forward collision warning and that's it.

For a very solid $2500, you can add lane departure warning, auto high beam, reverse sensors, blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert. There's a catch, though - you can't have it on the manual.

The model featured below is the 2020 Mitsubishi ASX GSR

On top of that, it's a lot when the Kia Seltos (yes, with steel wheels and halogen headlights) already starts with one or two of those features and charges just $1000 for its advanced safety pack.

The Mazda CX-3 is full of safety gear without ticking boxes.

The maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating stretches back to 2014 when the rules were quite different. I won't speculate on what it might achieve in 2020 as-is, but five stars might be tricky.


Infiniti Q307/10

The Q30 scores some decent active safety goodies alongside the usual refinements. Active safety items include auto emergency braking (AEB) with forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring (BSM), lane departure warning (LDW) and active cruise control.

There’s also Nissan’s signature ‘Around View Monitor’ 360-degree reversing camera which sounds more useful than it is. Thankfully there is also a standard reversing camera.

The Q30 carries a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating as of 2015 but has not been tested to the more demanding 2019 standards.

The rear seats also benefit from two sets of ISOFIX child seat mounting points

As previously mentioned, there’s no spare wheel in the Q30 Sport, so best of luck with the inflator kit if you end up with a flat in the outback.

Ownership

Mitsubishi ASX

Mitsubishi has a five-year/100,000km warranty with one year of roadside assist in the form of membership to your state or territory's motoring organisation (eg RACV, RACT, NRMA).

The three-year capped price servicing regime is not bad and every service you get at the dealer extends the roadside cover for another 12 months.

A small bit of good news for you - where previously a service was $240, they're now $199 for all three during the program, with the initial 1000km service remaining free (and annoying).


Infiniti Q308/10

As with all Infiniti products, the Q30 is covered by a four-year/100,000km warranty and a three-year service program can be purchased with the car. Pricing was not available for the 2019 Q30 model year at the time of writing, but its 2.0-litre turbo predecessor averaged $540 per service once a year or every 25,000km.

Credit where credit is due, the Q30 edges out the European competition by a year of warranty length and general service pricing. This market segment is still wide open for a manufacturer to take the lead offering five or more years of warranty coverage.