Mitsubishi ASX VS Toyota C-HR
- 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
- Adventurous styling
- Premium interior
- Class-leading standard safety
- Underwhelming engine
- CVT can grate
- No true entry-level model
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|
Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the new Toyota C-HR with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch in Victoria.
There's fashionably late to the party, and then there's Toyota's C-HR small SUV. While its competitors were making hay while the city-sized SUV sun was shining, the Japanese powerhouse remained eerily quiet. Sure, there was the occasional sketch and a concept car at the Paris Motor Show in 2014, but then... crickets.
But the brand's first ever city-sized SUV has finally arrived in Australia, and Toyota is promising it's been worth the wait. And it arrives to a market absolutely booming: the 440,000 SUVs sold in Australia last year was more than the double the number sold in 2009. And more than 110,000 of those sales were in the C-HR's hotly contested segment.
To say the C-HR is like no mainstream Toyota product that has gone before (at least in recent years) is a staggering understatement. Gone is the dull design philosophy. Same with the tired-but-safe interiors. Instead you'll find a hugely adventurous exterior, a premium-feel interior and a brand new turbocharged engine.
Perhaps most surprisingly, though, is the brand's focus on an engaging drive experience that even Toyota admits has been missing from its recent back catalogue.
|Engine Type||1.2L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium 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.
Sharply styled, engaging to drive and stacked with safety kit, the C-HR will be a tempting proposition for small SUV buyers in Australia. Personally, though, we'd be holding on for a more powerful engine, but if your life is lived in the city, that's unlikely to bother you much.
Is the C-HR exciting enough to pull you away from a CX-3? Tell us what you think 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
Exciting. Unique. Interesting. Not three words you might normally apply to mainstream Toyota product (it's like crushed Valerian has been mixed in with the exterior paint of the current-generation Camry, for example). But then, this is no ordinary Toyota.
The C-HR part actually stands for Coupe High Rider, and the newest Toyota does give off the same kind of vibes as the pioneers in this weird SUV/Coupe pseudo-style. Viewed front on, the C-HR looks simple enough, with the blocky and tall grille, an extreme example of Toyota's new 'under priority, keen look' design language, framed on either size by two massive and swept back headlights (they're 950mm in length, and Toyota had to have its supplier design new machinery to craft them).
But viewed side on, the coupe-ness emerges, the near-vertical windscreen meets a slightly sloping roofline that eventually meets a rear window which angles away from the roof. The wheel arches are bulging, the belt line is sky-high and even the body crease takes a crazy journey from the top of the wheel arch to the base of door before climbing again to the rear door.
So far so good, then. And from those two angles, the C-HR looks sharp on the road. But its the rear view that looks somehow cluttered and confused. From the mass of black cladding, to the boomerang-shaped brake lights, to the endless array of sharp angles and bulging panels, it looks more than a touch too busy for our tastes. Oh, it's supposed to look like a diamond. But you'd need to have sampled Lucy's sky diamonds to spot it.
There are eight body colours (four are new: red, bronze, teal and silver), while $450 will net you a white- or black-painted roof.
Toyota's made no secret it's targeting a more upmarket clientele or, in the words of Toyota: "our customers will have competitors from premium brands on their shopping lists", and the interior does feel a cut above.
There are still a few hard plastics lurking in places, but the other materials feel well crafted and the driver-angled dash has a kind of layering which works well, with different materials and colours stacked on top of each other.
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.
At 4360mm in length and 1795mm in width, the C-HR is actually slightly bigger than a Corolla, and while the interior can feel claustrophobic at times, space for front and rear passengers is actually pretty good. You can genuinely transport four adults in comfort, though squeezing three across the back seat will wipe smiles off faces pretty quickly.
The weirdest part, though, is a large curved panel in the rear door, which eats away the window space in the back. It means backseat passengers will have to lean forward to look out the window, or be left staring at a door panel.
Elsewhere, expect two cupholders in the front and another one in each of the rear doors, but there are no pockets for bottles in the back. There are two ISOFIX attachment points, one in each window seat in the back.
Luggage space is pegged at 377 litres with the 60/40 split-fold rear seats in place, but that climbs to 1112 litres with them folded flat.
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.
Now for the bad news: there's no price-led entry-level model here. Instead you'll be asked to part with $26,990 for the cheapest C-HR, which is about $6k more than an entry-level Corolla. Toyota explains away the price hike by saying most (about 80 per cent) of small SUV shoppers jump into the market at a medium trim level or higher, saying the C-HR's customers are "looking for the niceties of life."
Niceties or no, that money will earn you a front-wheel drive, manual-equipped vehicle with satellite navigation, active cruise control and cloth seats. You'll also get dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloys, an electric parking brake and LED fog lights and DRLs. Most commendably, you also get an impressive suite of standard safety kit, but we'll come back to that in a moment. As in the rest of the range, your touchscreen will be a fairly underwhelming 6.1-inches in size, and is missing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Toyota has simplified the costs from there, asking customers to shell out another $2k for a CVT (auto) and another $2k for AWD, lifting the combined price to $30,990.
If you're still wanting more, another $4,300 (for a total $35,290) will earn you the top-spec Koba treatment, adding heated leather seats, push-button start, LED headlights and taillights, 18-inch alloys, privacy glass and Toyota's new 'Nanoe E' air-con technology that not only blocks all kinds of nasties, but adds moisture to the air to stop you hair and skin drying out.
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.
The C-HR is powered by a turbocharged 1.2-litre, four cylinder petrol engine, on debut in this model, that produces 85kW from 5200–5600rpm and 185Nm between 1500–4000rpm. Those numbers don't make for the most exhilarating acceleration: while no official sprint times have been quoted, we were producing 12.5-ish second runs, albeit recorded on a phone on undulating road surfaces.
That power can be sent to the front wheels or to all four tyres, depending on your budget, via a six-speed manual transmission with a tricky rev-matching system that blips the throttle on up and down shifts for smoother gear changes, or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic. The CVT has a manual mode - though there's no wheel-mounted shifters - which builds in seven artificial steps in the gearing to simulate a traditional auto.
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.
While the front-wheel drive versions paired with the manual transmission will sip a claimed/combined 6.3 litres per hundred kilometres, some clever tech ensures the auto and all-wheel drive models aren't far off.
Opt for a FWD drive paired with a CVT, and your official fuel use climbs to 6.4L/100km, thanks in part to the fact that the CVT is tuned to sit in its highest possible ratio when coasting.
The AWD models claim 6.5L/100km, helped by the fact the engine actually defaults to FWD when it can, only incorporating the rear tyres if pushed, which will see up to 50 per cent of the power sent to the back.
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.
A Toyota SUV honed at the Nurburgring? Clearly, then, this a new direction for the brand.
This is supposed to be Toyota's driver's car, and in a lot of ways it is. The steering is terrific, smooth and predictable in the city, and perfectly linear when you start tackling tighter, faster bends. The ride is great, too, while the suspension, which strikes a commendable balance between supple and sporty, helps ensure the C-HR sits nice and flat when cornering, only pushing to understeer when you really ask a lot from it.
However, there are some drawbacks. The first is the engine, which feels adequate in the CBD when you're jumping from traffic light to traffic light, but whimpers pretty quickly when you try to unlock some performance.
But the biggest issue for us is the CVT . It's far from the worst we've driven - quieter and smoother than most - but it's a terrible way to draw any meaningful performance from the engine. The foot-flat climb from 30 to 70km/h feels particularly slow, thought that's improved by selecting manual mode, which builds in seven artificial gear steps.
That said, it's not supposed to be an out-and-out performance car, it's simply supposed to be a better driving car than Toyotas that have gone before it, and we think it definitely is. Road noise, too, is kept to a minimum, and vision out of every window (except the rear windscreen - thank goodness for standard reversing cameras) is terrific.
In short, it's a great set-up let down by a lacklustre engine, but heavy rumours abound about Toyota fixing that problem in the not too distant future. Either way, it is a strong outing for Toyota's new TNGA (Toyota New Generation Architecture) platform that will underpin a whole heap of its new products in coming years.
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.
A hugely commendable safety package arrives as standard, with every trim level equipped with AEB, active cruise control, a lane departure system that will take over the steering if it senses you're drifting. That's a lot of handy safety technology, especially on an, albeit expensive, entry-level model. You also get blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and hill start assist.
The high-tech stuff joins seven airbags, a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.
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.
The Toyota C-HR is covered by a three year/100,000km warranty and requires a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 15,000kms.
An impressive capped-price service scheme sees maintenance costs pegged at just $195 per year for the first five years.