Mitsubishi ASX VS Peugeot 2008
- Lots of space
- New nose looks better
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- Buzzy pedals
- Lumpy ride in town
- Just about everything, actually
- New engine and trans combo
- Interior still cool
- CarPlay across the range
- Tight rear seats
- Grumbly engine at low revs
- Some cheap plastics
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.
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.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the new Peugeot 2008 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch in NSW.
You have to feel for Peugeot. Back in 2013 when the 2008 launched, the mini-SUV market was pretty limp, with four so-so offerings. While the French company was hardly expecting the kind of numbers cars like the Mazda CX-3 or Mitsubishi ASX achieve today, there was probably a bit of optimism considering the lacklustre competition.
Sadly, the 2008 was not a smash-hit, despite critical acclaim for its inventive interior and dynamic appeal. Where it all fell down was the combination of engines and transmissions - manuals came with the diesel (which almost nobody bought) and the automatic was a decidedly 1990s four-speed automatic that didn't pair well with the petrol engines.
The 2008 had an identity crisis Peugeot needed to fix. Was it a wagon? Was it a cheap alternative to the others? Why can't I get an auto on the Active? Why does it look high tech but the drivetrain isn't? So many questions that Peugeot has to answer.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
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.
The 2008's identity crisis is partly solved, but as this is a mild update rather than ground-up rebuild, it was never going to be the CX-3 killer product planners dream about. With the new engine and transmission, though, the range is more appealing and easier to make sense of.
It retains what made the car so original at launch, with the polarising i-Cockpit, clever-on-a-budget interior detailing and, as it turns out, it's a tough customer loved by rural folk.
All of this won't rocket the Frenchie to market leadership, but it puts it in the mix where it was previously too confusing an idea for many buyers.
Can the 2008's French flair tempt you away from the Japanese juggernauts? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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.
One of the 2008's problems is its looks. Nothing wrong with them, it's just that it looks like a jacked up 208 with an extension on the back. When punters saw it, they thought wagon rather than SUV. Part of that is to do with Peugeot's messaging. The material we got called it 'New SUV 2008', but the fact it doesn't look like its competitors plays against it.
The new 2008 has been lightly revised front and rear to make it a little more butch and a little less 208. The direction is clearly influenced by the forthcoming 3008, but there wasn't a great deal to be done with the older car.
There's a more bluff nose with a bigger vertical grille to add some visual heft. The wheel arches have unpainted plastic extensions (on the Allure and GT) and there are now scuff plates to make it feel a bit more off-roadery. It is looking its age, though and will look older when the 3008 lands here later in the year.
In Allure and GT models the headlights are black and chrome and the taillights are Peugeot's 'three claw' design.
Inside is, mercifully, much the same and dating more gracefully than the exterior. The i-Cockpit is an acquired taste with the tiny 350mm steering wheel set low under a high-up instrument pack, designed to help keep your head up. It does take some getting used to, but with plenty of adjustment, most people can get the right spot behind the wheel.
The new 7.0-inch screen responds well to the touch and looks like it belongs, while the shrewd use of textured materials and, in the Allure, metallics, helps offset some of the cheaper materials and the low-rent plastic gear selector with its chromed, gated lever. Give me the selector from the 308 any day.
It's airy and light but if you want the sunroof, be aware it has a white, translucent blind that creates a lot of glare. Works fine in Europe, not so great under our harsh sun.
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.
Front seat passengers will enjoy comfortable seating in both Allure and Active models with space in the doors for bottles, a pair of (small) cupholders and a good-sized central console storage bin, which is also cooled. The glovebox is tiny, but it means you've a lot more knee room than you might expect in a car this size.
The rear seat legroom is tight for over 150cm folk, but the seats themselves are comfortable, with three across possible if not appreciated. Sadly, there are no air vents or cupholders out back, although small bottles can go in the doors. There's not even an armrest for rear seat dwellers.
Boot space is excellent at 410 litres (the class-leading HR-V is 437, the rather bigger Qashqai 430) and with the 60/40 seats down that number more than triples to 1400 litres. Under the boot floor is a further 22 litres and either side of door opening are plastic pockets with retaining straps.
There is one USB port up front, a 12V next to it and another 12V port for the rear seats.
Price and features
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.
The 2008 range has been significantly reduced. First to depart was the bargain-basement Access model, a theme repeated on the 208 and 308 model lines. Nobody bought it (three per cent of buyers, or about 20-ish per year), so that was the one to go. Peugeot's local brand boss, Kai Bruesewitz told CarsGuide at the launch that Australian buyers like their SUVs with "the lot."
The existing engines were turfed, and in their place is Peugeot's lauded 1.2-litre turbo petrol triple cylinder, known as 'PureTech e-THP' (Turbo High Pressure), paired exclusively with the Aisin-sourced six-speed automatic transmission found in the 308.
The range is now three cars, starting with the Active at $26,490, moving on to the Allure, and ending with the GT-Line, which replaces the Outdoor trim level.
The Active opens the range with 16-inch alloys, six speaker stereo, 7.0-inch touchscreen with CarPlay and MirrorLink (Android Auto is three to six months away), cloth trim, leather steering wheel, reversing camera (factory fit rather than dealer-fitted), air-conditioning, rear parking sensors, electric folding mirrors and cruise control.
Peugeot Australia says the new Active's higher price of $26,490 (+ $1000) is offset by $2000 of extra stuff when compared with the 1.6-litre Active auto of old.
The Allure is still $30,990 and swaps 16s for 17s, adds city auto emergency braking, auto parking, grip control, sat nav and a different cloth trim, active cornering lighting, auto headlights and wipers, front parking sensors, rear privacy glass and dual-zone climate control.
The GT-Line keeps the Outdoor's $32,990 price but picks up automatic transmission, different 17-inch alloys, red LED interior lighting to replace the blue in lower grades, and some interior and exterior detailing to set it apart, as with the 208 GT Line.
The GT-Line won't be available until the middle of the year.
Options across the board include $990 for metallic paint or $1050 for pearlescent. For Allure and GT-Line models you can add a panoramic sunroof for $1000 and leather for $2200. You can also specify sat nav on the Active for $1500 but given it has CarPlay and MirrorLink, that seems expensive and unlikely to attract too many buyers.
Engine & trans
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.
All 2008s are powered by the same 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder, developing 81kW (down 7kW on the old 1.6, up 21kW on the old 1.2) and 205Nm (up 45Nm on the 1.6 and 25Nm up on the old 1.2) of torque. While the power figure doesn't compete with the 1.8 or 2.0 naturally aspirated engines of other cars in the class, the torque figure is a little higher than most.
The sprint from 0-100km/h stops the clocks at a leisurely 11.3 seconds with a tare weight of just 1188kg to push along.
Power goes to the front wheels via an Aisin six-speed automatic, already seen in the 308.
Compared to the old 1.6-litre four, the THP engine is 12kg lighter and features stop-start to help cut consumption.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Modest though the outputs may be, the turbo triple is the right engine for the 2008. Standardising across the range means you don't have to play option Tetris and you know exactly what you're getting, no matter which one the dealer throws you the keys to.
While a bit grumbly low-down (this problem doesn't afflict the bigger 308), the turbo spins up and, once you're moving, provides decent thrust. Engines this size have little right to be so good on the motorway, but overtaking required less planning than anticipated, and the transmission, while kept busy, is smooth and unobtrusive. Job done there.
The steering is very good, aided by the small steering wheel, helping make the car feel as light as it is (just under 1200kg). I am not convinced by the tyres, though.
Shod with Goodyear Vector all-weather tyres, there just isn't the grip through the tight and twisty stuff, so the stability control fires up earlier than perhaps it would with 'summer' tyres. That's easy fixed at the first tyre change as long as you're not after the semi off-road capabilities of the standard rubber.
On loose or wet surfaces, the tyres to make a better case for themselves and once you twiddle the 'Grip Control' dial for the surface you're on, they're even more useful. I'd probably want a set of normal tyres on an Active, which doesn't have Grip Control and is probably intended more for city use buyers.
Overall, it's a refined package, with just the sometimes intrusive engine note coming through at low revs and tyre noise on poor tarmac.
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
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.
The basic safety package on the Active includes six airbags, ABS, plus stability and traction controls.
Allure and GT-Line also have 'Grip Control', a switchable terrain system that plays around with the brakes to help keep the front wheels moving in mud, sand and snow.
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).
The 2008 comes with a five year/100,000km warranty for the first three months on sale (until May 31 2017), but Peugeot says they're negotiating with the parent company to make that standard. Roadside assist is offered for three years/100,000km.
Peugeot will want to see you every 12 months or 15,000km for a service, with the average over five years working out at $544.20 per year, which is a little over the average for the segment. The cheapest is $404 and the three year/45,000km service is a stiff $723.