Mitsubishi ASX VS Skoda KAROQ
- Good safety package
- Interior space
- Weak engine/transmission combination
- Iffy ride and handling
- Feeling old
- Great design, inside and out
- Clever interior packaging
- Good equipment
- DSG at low speeds
- No middle seat anchor point
- Only FWD petrol ... for now
You can never be completely sure about the age of a car, but I reckon the Mitsubishi ASX has taken over as the elder statescar after the demise of Holden's Captiva. The old Holden was commissioned by the pharaoh Khufu while the ASX arrived a few years later... in 2009.
Over the last near-decade, the ASX has consistently sold without any major changes. Evolution has been the name of the game (ironically), with now-annual running changes to the ASX to try and keep it fresh.
The compact SUV segment is enormously competitive, with new entrants squeezing the ASX harder than ever. Amazingly, despite being ready for the pension, it still manages to post excellent sales figures when by rights it should be languishing near the bottom - old cars are old news.
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
And you thought Yeti was a weird name for a car. This is the 2018 Skoda Karoq, which is essentially a replacement for the old oddball Yeti small SUV.
The spiel goes that Skoda asked Kodiakans to come up with the name for the new smaller sibling to the Kodiaq - and apparently, names like 'Chinook', 'Grizz' and 'Icebug' were in the mix. But Karoq was what won out, blending the word Ruq - a tribal name for an arrow, like on the Skoda badge - with Karaaq, an Alaskan tribal name for a car.
Enough about the name. What is the Karoq all about? And is it any good?
|Engine Type||1.5L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
It might be as old as the hills but the ASX keeps going. It's tempting to say it's on life support, but it still does the job, and with the new ADAS package, there's still life in the old dog. It's also cheaper than before, although why you'd want to spend money on the Exceed when you have everything that's worthwhile in the ES ADAS or LS is beyond me. As for the pick of the range, I'd go for the LS - it has the nicer interior trim and better seats.
The ASX will be with us for a while yet - as the newest member of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, whatever was on the way has been delayed. So for now, the ASX is the roomiest, cheapest and among the best-equipped in its class. It's just a shame it has to be so boring.
Does the ASX do what you need or is the old-timer too far off the pace? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The lack of variety on offer in the 2018 Skoda Karoq launch range could be a deterrent to some buyers. But the fact of the matter is that the Karoq is aimed exactly at the market that is looking for - petrol, front drive, affordable, well designed and nicely finished.
Not only that, it’s well equipped, and offers a fair bit of customisation if you choose any of those option packs. Skoda is on to a good thing here, and if you like the look of it, you really ought to take one for a drive.
Does the size of an SUV matter? Or is price more important? Tell us in the comments section below.
The early cars were a study in minimalism and looked so bare they could have come straight out of an early Grand Theft Auto game, such was the lack of detailing. These later models feature lashings of chrome and a far less timid approach, on the nose at least. The profile has been the same for the better part of a decade, with just the occasional addition like new wheels or wing mirrors.
The 18-inch wheels give the car a good solid stance and the paint looks pretty good these days. But that's pretty much it. The ASX is a box on wheels with doors that clang when you shut them.
Inside has once again had a going-over. The last proper update to the cabin made it a much better place to be. The part-suede interior of the LS is the one to go for, the Exceed's leather merely adds to the overall cheap-feel. The ASX is entirely unpretentious - no soft plastics, no attempt to cover gaps or blanks (the fifth cupholder is now covered by a dodgy-looking cap) and the switchgear is a mix-and-match arrangement to get the job done. Nothing wrong with that, but it might leave an aesthete twitchy.
The length of the Karoq is 4382mm, and it spans 1841mm wide and 1603mm tall. So, is it a large small SUV, or a small mid-sized SUV? Well, Skoda says it’s the latter, naming rivals like the Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Tucson as its targets.
Compared with the Yeti, the Karoq is longer nose to tail and has a longer wheelbase for better interior room (now 2638mm; was 2578mm), plus it’s wider, and it isn’t quite as upright, so its lower overall as well.
It’s not huge, then, but it has a big amount of road presence. It’s not quite a ‘mini me’ version of the Kodiaq, there are some fairly familiar styling traits - the creases in the metal along the side of the car and at the rear, around the LED tail-lights, are particularly prominent.
I think it looks really good. It’s a little bit angular and aggressive, a lot more conventionally attractive than the Yeti, and not nearly as hatchbacky as some of its rivals. I can’t support Skoda’s decision to fit halogen headlights as standard, though… they dull yellow beam really detracts from what is otherwise a really attractive car.
Thankfully, you can get LED headlights to match the LED daytime running lights. And the Karoq comes as standard on 17-inch alloy wheels, but you can option up to 19s if you want, and there are several other option packs to choose from, too - read the review for all the details.
Straight up, I'll answer a common question - how many seats? The ASX is as near as you'll get to a five-seater in this segment. Interior photos show generous interior dimensions, its boxy exterior design delivering a good size cabin.
Front seat passengers score a pair of cupholders and a decent-sized central bin with a lid on top doubling as an armrest. Rear seat passengers miss out on many things - there's just one seatback pocket but there are two cupholders in the armrest.
Boot space starts with 393 litres, which is near the top of the class. If it's maximum luggage capacity you're after, drop the 60/40 split-fold rear seat and you'll have 1193 litres.
Despite looking like it's on stilts, the ground clearance is 205mm, which is significantly higher than the segment's low-rider, the Mazda CX-3. As you might expect, if you're this low-slung - and without 4 wheel drive, off-road ability is compromised.
The 4.4m long ASX's turning circle is a small-ish 10.6 metres.
If the Honda HR-V is the king of the smaller SUVs for cabin practicality, the Karoq could be the challenger to the throne. In fact, it may have just bump the crown off the king’s head, because the Karoq is the most thoughtful SUV in its class.
That’s because the Karoq has a brilliant flexible seating system, known as VarioFlex, which was also offered in the the Yeti. Essentially, you can slide and tilt the back seats to allow for more boot space or rear passenger comfort, depending on what the priority is. That means the difference between an already-excellent 479 litres of cargo capacity, and that number growing to 589L (bettering plenty of large SUVs).
But that’s not the end of it: you can fold the seatbacks down, then tumble the seats forward to alleviate up to 1605L of boot room. And the final trick? You can completely remove the seats for van-like cargo capacity of 1810L.
Admittedly the floor isn’t flat like a van in that configuration, but it is undeniably brilliant… provided you have somewhere safe and dry to store the seats when they’re out of the car. And you have the option of making it a three- or four-seater if you want - the outboard two seats can be shuffled inboard for the four-seat layout, and the seatbelt clickers are integrated into the seats.
It’s seriously clever, and Skoda has even managed to find a spot for a space saver spare wheel under the boot floor, and every Karoq comes with a removable LED torch, as well as three cargo nets, a reversible boot liner (rubber on one side, carpet on the other) and there are movable shopping bag hooks. And yeah, because it’s a Skoda, you get an umbrella, too!
It may be one of the smaller mid-sized SUVs, but it doesn’t feel small inside. There’s excellent space, and of course there are some really thoughtful touches like rubbish bins in the door pockets, big bottle holders in all four doors, a pair of cupholders up front (but two large takeaway coffees won’t fit side by side), a covered centre console section, and a dash-top hideyhole.
As standard, the Karoq gets a crisp 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. So, you’ll be able to keep connected on the move. There’s a 9.2-inch screen with in-built navigation as an option, but I actually prefer the 8.0-inch one, because there are volume knobs rather than touch controls.
In the back seat there is pretty good space for adults or kids alike. With the driver’s seat set in my position (I’m 183cm tall) I had enough space to sit comfortably for a while. The knee room could be better, but headroom, shoulder room and foot space is very good.
Children are catered for with a pair of ISOFIX child-seat anchors, and three top tethers, too. Plus the standard-fit rear air-vents will keep backseat bandits happy on hot (or cold!) days, but there’s only a 12-volt outlet in the second row (a USB port or two is becoming the standard, these days).
As for rear storage, there is no flip-down centre armrest - instead, you have to fold the entire middle seat down for a set of cup holders, but there are map pockets.
Price and features
The MY19 upgrade - one of many over the ASX's long and fruitful life - has brought some changes to the price list and a rejig of the available models. There's a new entry-level model, the ES, the mid-point LS and a range-topping Exceed. All pricing is RRP and how much you pay is between you and your dealer. The drive-way price is helpfully listed on the Mitsubishi website, however. Our model comparison features the full price range.
A big change for MY19 is the end of the all-wheel drive (AWD) for the ASX, with just front-wheel drive on offer. So no more AWD option, meaning if you're after an off-road review, you're out of luck.
The new entry-level ES means it's now $1510 cheaper than before for the cheapest ASX.
The ASX now starts at $23,490 for an ES with a manual gearbox and $25,490 for the CVT automatic transmission. The value proposition is pretty reasonable - you get 18-inch alloys, four-speaker stereo, climate control, reversing camera, halogen headlights, leather gear shifter and steering wheel, power folding rear vision mirrors, cruise control, power windows all round, cloth trim and a space saver spare tyre.
The ES ADAS is $26,990 and is essentially the ES with a safety pack, which you can read about in the safety section.
Moving on to the second of the three models, the LS starts at $27,990 and is auto-only - so no manual transmission. To the ES spec you can add keyless entry and start, the 'ADAS' safety package, rear parking sensors, fog lights, auto high beam, auto headlights and wipers and partial leather seats with fake suede inserts (which are rather good, actually).
The $30,990 Exceed adds leather, two speakers to make the speaker number six as well as a sunroof.
The ES and LS comes with a four-speaker sound system while the top of the range Exceed scores six speakers. All of them have the same 8.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system. What is standard across the range is iPhone and Android integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto respectively. The new screen looks good and the updated software is easy to use, but it's not very well integrated - for instance, Apple CarPlay's clock disappears off the edge of the screen.
There is no sat nav (hmmm) or CD player (far enough, it's 2018), but there is digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and a baffling screen that displays your GPS co-ordinates.
There are seven colours available - black, 'Lightning Blue', 'Titanium' (grey, obviously), red, 'Sterling Silver' and 'Starlight' all cost an extra $590 while white is a freebie. Not surprisingly, orange and brown are off the menu.
With a list price of $29,990 for the manual version (or $32,990 drive-away) and $32,290 for the dual-clutch automatic (or $35,290 drive-away), the Skoda Karoq is playing at the base level for a mid-size SUV.
Most competitors start around the same level, although the Korean and Japanese makers tend to have automatic models below thirty grand. So it’s not as cheap as some of its competitors.
But it is quite well kitted out, with a lot of standard equipment including an 8.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera, USB input (only one, though…), Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, an eight-speaker sound system, dual zone climate control air conditioning, keyless entry and push-button start, and adaptive cruise control.
It also has 17-inch wheels as standard, plus roof rails, LED daytime running lights and LED tail-lights, auto headlights and wipers, and in addition to the rear camera, there are rear parking sensors with auto-stop (to avoid back-up bumps).
Inside there are cloth seats, a leather-lined steering wheel and gear selector, a reversible floor mat (carpet on one side, rubber on the other - great for wet or muddy clothes). Plus there are standard tablet holders for rear seat occupants that buckle on to the front headrests.
The safety story is pretty strong for the new Karoq, too - read the safety section below for more details.
Still not enough gear? You can option different packs on the Karoq to boost the equipment levels even further.
The first is the 'Premium Pack' ($3600), which adds full LED headlights, leather seat trim, front parking sensors, an electric tailgate, stainless steel pedals and 18-inch wheels.
The next is the 'Tech Pack' ($3200), which makes the tailgate handsfree operable, plus includes a drive mode selection system and personalised keys (three), upgrades the media screen to a 9.2-inch system with navigation and 10 years of map updates, and also adds DAB+ digital radio, a Canton premium 10-speaker stereo system, semi-autonomous parking, and wireless phone charging.
The 'Travel Pack' ($1700) adds lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, electric driver’s seat adjustment with memory settings, and auto dimming side mirrors with auto folding and memory settings.
And if you want all of that stuff in one pack, you could consider the 'Launch Pack', which adds $8900 to the price and includes everything except the Canton sound system, but also adds a three years of servicing. More on that below.
Oh, and as for colours? There are nine choices. Three are no-cost options - Candy White, Steel Grey and Energy Blue - while the six remaining choices all add a little more asking price: Moon White Metallic, Emerald Green, Magic Black, Quartz Grey and Brilliant Silver will set you back $700, while Velvet Red is $1000.
Engine & trans
The ASX's model simplification extends to the drivetrain. Gone is AWD and diesel, leaving just one petrol engine. The engine specs read fairly adequately - the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder delivers 110kW/197Nm. As with the rest of the segment, engine size and power seems to be legislated to almost these exact specifications.
The 0-100 acceleration performance is best described as leisurely and noisy. The motor, codenamed 4B11, uses a chain rather than timing belt, which should help keep service costs down and improve long-term reliability. The 4B11 is capable of producing a lot more horsepower, but sadly the version of the engine in the Evo X is not available.
On the upside, this simplicity means no turbo problems or diesel problems and in this unstressed spec, engine problems are unlikely to occur with regular servicing.
Power reaches the front wheels through Mitsubishi's ubiquitous continuously variable transmission (CVT). LS buyers can choose a less than bang-up-to-date five-speed manual, but that's probably down to the fact almost nobody buys a manual.
If you're interested in the tank size, oil type and weight, the owners manual lists these things. The CVT seems a hardy if unspectacular unit, so gearbox problems appear unusual in my sweep of the usual internet forums. The CVT's abilities, however, are another thing entirely.
Towing capacity is rated at 750kg unbraked and 1300kg braked.
Just in case you're wondering, there is no LPG (or gas) option.
There’s just one drivetrain option at launch for the Karoq - a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, which is available with a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It’s front-wheel drive only, but a powered-up all-wheel drive model is expected sometime before the end of 2019, and a diesel could be on its way, too.
The outputs for the little turbo engine are pretty good, especially if you’re considering it against small SUV rivals. It has 110kW of power (5000-6000rpm) and 250Nm of torque (from 1500-3500rpm). And it’s such a new engine from the Volkswagen Group that not even VW has it available in any of its offerings yet, and it won’t even be offered in the 2019 Volkswagen Golf update.
But if we take a little dive into the closely-priced competitor set of mid-sized SUVs, those numbers are strong compared with the likes of the front-drive, non-turbo Hyundai Tucson Active (121kW/203Nm), Kia Sportage Si (114kW/192Nm) and Mazda CX-5 Maxx (115kW/200Nm).
Mitsubishi says the ASX's fuel economy figures are 7.6L/100km of 91 RON petrol. Fuel tank capacity is listed at 63 litres. If you can eke out this sticker figure mileage you could squeeze out nearly 800km of range. We found its real-world fuel consumption is closer to 11.5L/100km in a mix of city and highway driving.
The official claimed fuel consumption for the Karoq is 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres for the manual version, and 5.8L/100km for the dual-clutch auto. It features clever cylinder deactivation technology that will allow it to run on just two cylinders under light loads - and it works really well, and more readily than you’d expect.
That’s good for the mid-size class. Let’s consider those five direct rivals mentioned in the engine section: Tucson Active - 7.9L/100km; Sportage Si - 7.9L/100km; CX-5 Maxx - 6.9L/100km; Equinox LS - 6.9L/100km; Escape Ambiente - 7.2L/100km.
We saw 7.3L/100km on our test drive, which included some Sydney traffic, flowing highway and twisty tarmac driving.
The ASX is the archetypal appliance on wheels. It's one of the least involving cars you will ever drive. The inconsistently-weighted steering completely insulates you from the road. It seems to need an extra quarter turn to do anything and that gets tired pretty quickly.
The CVT auto is rudimentary at best, completely outclassed by that in the Honda HR-V. The pronounced rubber band feel is something that takes some time to get used to and requires a keen eye on the speedo.
The all-around independent suspension promises much but delivers the workmanlike performance of a bored politician who knows they're resigning before the next election. Sharp bumps resonate through the cabin and body control is lacking - turn the wheel left to right and it ties itself up in knots. But once you're up to speed, it's a comfortable rider.
The safety systems seem to work reasonably well, although we did find the reverse cross traffic alert to have longer range sensors than the Starship Enterprise.
It is a blend of being comfortable, composed and considered - something that many rival SUVs can’t nail.
The way the Karoq rides over patchy city streets is particularly impressive, whether you’re in one with 17- or 18-inch wheels. The front MacPherson struts and rear compound link suspension may not feature an Australia-specific suspension tune, but during my time in the Karoq I found very little to complain about, particularly on the smaller wheel package.
The steering - a rack-and-pinion system with electromechanical power assistance - is very good. It has nice weighting at low speeds, meaning parking moves are simple, while offering good resistance at highway pace, offering excellent assuredness.
It is quiet on the open road, suppressing a lot of road roar that you might typically find exhibited by low-profile tyres on coarse chip road surfaces, and makes for a very comfortable long-distance cruiser with its adaptive cruise control system taking the hard work out of highways.
It’s not all rosy, though. The dual-clutch auto can stumble at low speeds (that’s a bit of a trait for this sort of automatic transmission), and that - combined with some low-rev turbo lag - can result in a bit of lazy going at low speed.
At higher speeds the transmission does a solid job, cutting between gears crisply, and helping maintain pace up hills or when overtaking. The engine isn’t a powerhouse, but it certainly offers up easy progress, and gets away pretty smartly if you pressure the right pedal. Skoda claims a 0-100km/h time of 8.4 seconds for the manual and 8.6sec for the auto, which is better than the non-turbo entry-level mid-size models listed above.
I was particularly impressed by the cylinder on demand system, which can cut it to two-cylinder mode under light loads. You can tell when it happens (even if you’re not looking at the driver information screen where it shows up) because there’s a bit more rumble from under the bonnet, but it’s not loud by any stretch of the imagination. And the change from two back to four cylinders when you apply more accelerator is smooth.
If you need to load up a baby car seat, there are three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFIX anchors.
In the interests of transparency and for an opportunity to self-deprecate for your amusement, about a year ago I wrote that the ASX was missing advanced safety systems and was unlikely to see them anytime soon.
That update is called the ADAS package, optional on the ES and the same features are standard on the Exceed. ADAS includes lane departure warning, lane change assist, forward AEB and rear cross traffic alert. You also get auto wipers and headlights and rear parking sensors.
Irritatingly, the LS loses blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert with no apparent way to get them on that spec. The Exceed's package also picks up automatic high beam.
The ASX has a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, awarded in 2014.
It comes loaded with safety stuff, including seven airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee), a reversing camera, rear parking sensors with auto stop, auto emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver fatigue monitoring, tyre pressure monitoring, multi-collision braking (which will stop the car continuing to move if involved in an accident), ABS, ESC, adaptive cruise control and more.
Optionally available is blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-keeping assist.
As mentioned above, there are dual ISOFIX child-seat anchors, and three top-tether points as well.
The ASX now 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 also includes extending that membership another 12 months.
Each service will cost you $240 which isn't especially cheap nor is it overly-pricey. Annoyingly, the car demands to be returned to the dealer at the 1000km mark for a free look-over.
A quick search reveals an absence of common problems, faults or issues. It seems a pretty solid sort of car, with few common complaints from owners. Resale value is heavily dependent on the model, with early cars not doing as well as later updates.
Skoda offers a good five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty program, which is better than a few of the mainstream competitors.
Plus Skoda offers a choice of service plans that you can pre-purchase when you drive off the dealer lot (and bundle the cost into your finance… win!) - all require 12-month/15,000km maintenance visits. The costs for services are a bit European, but not exorbitant: the first five years/75,000km, if you go by the book, will cost: $288, $363, $427, $583, $427.