Mitsubishi ASX VS Mahindra XUV500
- 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
- Cheap way into seven seats
- Petrol/auto combination a winner
- Hugely spacious third row
- Underwhelming safety
- Steering that requires plenty of guesswork
- Cheap-feeling interior
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|
Just in case attacking Australia's crowded SUV market with a virtually unheard of Indian brand wasn't a high enough hurdle to leap over, Mahindra had made its task even harder - think a Bollywood version of Mission Impossible - by launching its XUV500 SUV here with a diesel engine (which nobody wanted) and a manual gearbox (which few could even remember how to use).
Fortunately, it fixed one of those issues late in 2016, finally adding an automatic transmission to the line-up. And now, at long last, it's fixed the other.
For one, it's a ferociously cheap way into a new seven-seat SUV. For another, it's pretty well equipped, even from the base level. There's a long warranty, an equally long roadside assistance offering, and there's capped-price servicing, too.
So, should the mainstream SUV players be looking over their shoulders?
Spoiler alert: no.
|Engine Type||2.2L turbo|
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.
This petrol-powered and well-priced XUV500 W6 might mark Mahindra's most convincing effort at cracking Australia's congested SUV market, but we're still not completely convinced.
That said, it's certainly cheap, the ownership credentials stack up and it's a very comfortable way to transport seven people.
Will this Mahindra's low price and upgraded spec win your SUV vote? Tell us in the comments below.
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
There's no getting away from the fact the XUV500 is not the sleekest, prettiest SUV in the pack. But it's not ugly, either. More that it looks like it's doing its best with a design philosophy hatched a generation or two ago.
Its best angle by far is when viewed straight on, where the piano-black grille, dual bonnet bulges and complicated (read: a little weird) headlight clusters all add some road presence to Mahindra's only SUV.
A side-on viewing, however, is less satisfying, where a combination of strangely placed and super-sharp body creases (including one over the rear wheelarch, which adds a Harbour Bridge-style crescent to the otherwise-straight window line) and serious rear overhang give the XUV500 an inescapable awkwardness.
Inside, expect a vast collection of rock-hard (though nicely patterned) plastics, with the ambiance rescued somewhat by the clean-looking and vertical central control unit, which is home to the media screen and air-con controls.
Ready for some hashtag real talk? There are better-looking and better-feeling seven-seat SUVs out there. But there aren't many that start at $25,990 drive-away. And I think that's Mahindra's point.
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.
Pretty damn practical, actually, regardless of whether you want to carry people or cargo. Carrying both at the same time, however, is tricky.
But let's start with people. There is a huge amount of room in the third row of the XUV500, a space with enough head and legroom to put plenty of its competition to shame.
Thanks to second-row seat backs that fold flat, before the the entire seat lifts up and pushes forward, climbing into seats six and seven isn't too big a drama, either.
We rarely say this about seven-seat cars, but at 175cm, I'd feel plenty comfortable back there on a longer drive. There are two air vents in the third row, too, along with bottle storage and side-seat storage for thin items.
The space in the middle row is ample as well, and you'll find three ISOFIX attachment points, one for each of the three seats. There's also a door pocket in each rear door and storage nets on the rear of the two front seats. A pull-down divider that separates the back seat is home to two cupholders, matching the two for front seat riders.
The only downside to all this people-lugging happiness is that, with the third row of seats in place, there is absolutely no room for luggage. Mahindra doesn't quote a litre storage figure when seven are seated (mostly because it would probably be embarrassing to write "one litre"), but trust us, you'll be lucky to squeeze a soft backpack in the boot with all seats in place.
Things improve considerably when you drop the third row of seats, though, which unlocks 702 litres of storage, and that number climbs to 1512 litres with the second and third row folded down.
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.
Make no mistake, this Mahindra kills the competition on price. The entry-level W6 version will cost you a lean $25,990, while the fruited-up W8 version will set you back $29,990. You can even have an AWD W8 for $32,990. The best part? All of those are drive-away prices.
Go for the W6, and you can expect 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth seats, air-con with vents (powered by a second compressor) in the second and third row, cornering headlights with DRLs, front and rear fog lights, cruise control, rear parking sensors and a 6.0-inch multimedia screen linked with a six-speaker stereo.
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.
There's a diesel engine currently available, but the clock is ticking - Mahindra expects it to be phased out within six months. But the big news here is the new petrol engine, a turbocharged 2.2-litre unit good for 103kW/320Nm. It's paired exclusively with an Aisin-developed six-speed automatic transmission, and will send it's power to the front or all four wheels.
Mahindra doesn't quote official performance figures, but those engine outputs hardly scream excitement, do they?
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.
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.
About as old school as rocking a pair of button-up tracksuit pants with a Run-DMC cassette stuffed into your Walkman.
On a straight and unchallenging road, there's stuff to like about the petrol-powered XUV500. The engine, while gruff under heavy acceleration, doesn't feel too wheezy when you're not asking a great deal of it, and nor is the cabin overly loud at suburban speeds. It's a comfortable space for driver and passengers, too, and the gearbox performed seamlessly on our short test drive.
But that's about where the good news ends. There's an unshakeable agricultural feel to the way this Mahindra SUV goes about its business, and nowhere is that more obvious than through the steering wheel, which has only a vague and difficult relationship with the the front tyres, making it seriously tricky to approach twisting roads with anything approaching confidence.
The steering is slow and cumbersome - light when you first begin turning the wheel, with a ton of weight appearing by surprise midway through the cornering process - and it has a tendency to fight back should the front wheels find a bump or corrugation in the road, too.
The body lolls about when challenged, too, and the tyres are quick to give up their grip on tighter corners. All of which would give it a certain retro charm if it wasn't so very new, and I must admit I was cackling maniacally on some of the more twisting roads.
But it's simply not a car I could live with.
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.
Expect dual front, front-side and curtain airbags (though the latter don't extend to the third row of seats), along with rear parking sensors and ESP. Stepping up to the W8 trim adds a reversing camera with dynamic guidelines. The XUV500 was awarded a four-star (out of five) ANCAP assessment when tested in 2012.
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.
All XUV500s are covered by a five year/100,000km warranty (though the final two years apply only to the drivetrain), along with five years of complimentary roadside assistance.
The XUV500 is also covered by Mahindra's capped-price servicing program for the first three years of ownership, and will require servicing every six months or 10,000km.