The new Mitsubishi ASX 2.2-litre diesel now as an automatic transmission.
The new Mitsubishi ASX 2.2-litre diesel now as an automatic transmission.

Road test: Mitsubishi ASX Diesel completes compact picture

THE small SUV is proving to be the fastest growing sector in Australia with almost 61,000 total sales last year easily doubling the number of units sold in 2010.

With ambitious targets of its own to meet, it makes sense that Mitsubishi would want to strengthen its presence in a segment which until now has been championed by the ASX with four petrol variants and a 1.8-litre manual diesel.

Market research shows diesel engines are now the on-trend choice with three-quarters of buyers who are intending to buy a small SUV, especially one under $40K, opting to stay away from petrol-powered vehicles.

Mitsubishi is hoping to use these choices to boost ASX sales (currently about 500 a month) and this week unveiled a new diesel option with a bigger 2.2-litre engine and an automatic transmission.

Comfort

With the exception of new trim patterns and Mitsubishi's multi-media display unit, the interior of the ASX 2.2-litre diesel is pretty much the same as its petrol counterpart currently plying its trade on the market.

Inside the new Mitsubishi ASX.
Inside the new Mitsubishi ASX.

The front seats are supportive and comfortable although a tad more bolstering wouldn't go astray with enough leg room for a decent stretch.

Dials and controls are simple but practical but the feel is more utilitarian than luxurious even in the up-specced Aspire which retains most of the hard plastics found in the entry model.

Seats in the second row are perhaps a little too upright but passengers will still travel in comfort thanks to Mitsubishi's success in eking out every centimetre of space possible.

The boot is pretty decent for this class although there is a dearth of smaller storage spots for all those incidentals.

Both these new ASX offerings are powered by the same 2.2-litre six-speed auto engines which have made the Outlander a growing success story and deliver a gutsy performance.

Improvements to handling and refinement show immediate results with this ASX a much more pleasant undertaking than the petrol variants we have driven previously. It takes a bit to get going and needs some strong persuasion from standstill but is more than capable at speed needing little encouragement once it has found its legs.

There is clatter at idle as you would expect but this is ironed out soon enough - although road noise can be intrusive especially on less than perfect tracks.

Our test course was fairly demanding and the 2.2-litre diesel stuck gainfully to the task although we did feel the bumps a bit more than we should have.

It was competent off the tarmac, too, and although this is intended to be a city SUV and buyers are unlikely to hit the bush, it is comforting to know it can handle a bit of the rough stuff.

What do you get?

The ASX stable already features generous inclusions and the two new additions follow suit with the entry level 2.2-litre diesel boasting a reverse camera and sensors, 15.5cm touch-screen with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control and keyless entry as standard.

The Aspire adds leather trim, 17-inch alloys, powered driver's seat, panoramic glass sunroof, push-button start, heated front seats and Mitsubishi's MMAC system.

Both models have rear seats that split 60:40, increasing the load space in the base model from 416 litres to 1158 litres and to 1109 litres in the Aspire. Safety is five star with seven airbags, anti-locking brakes with EBD, stability and traction control and hill-start assist.

Other contenders

Sales in the small SUV market have doubled in the past two years and with new entrants expected in the next six months competition is certainly fierce. If this ASX diesel is to achieve sales targets it will have to find a way past the likes of the Mazda CX-5 (from $39,470), Volkswagen Tiguan (from $38,490), Nissan Dualis (from $29,990), Kia Sportage (from $35,490), and the Hyundai ix35 (from $34,990).

Practicality

Research suggests to Mitsubishi that the target market for the ASX is professional women aged 34-49 years, more often than not with children.

To this end this small SUV satisfies the dictums of style, handling and price and with the diesel comes added economy too. It is spacious and capable and has an enviable inclusions list. In terms of value for money the 2.2-litre base model is your best bet.

Running costs

Mitsubishi is rather proud of the official figure of 5.8 litres/100km which puts the 2.2-litre diesel up with the best in its class. We were closer to 8L/100km during our twisty turny first-drive course in the Adelaide Hills with the car in 4WD for much of that time so were pretty happy with that.

The ASX is offered with Mitsubishi's five-year/130,000km warranty and three-year/60,000km fixed-price servicing. The first three services are priced at $315 each with the 60,000km one at $470.

Funky factor

The ASX was updated this year to show off a new-design grille, front and rear bumpers and two-tone body. Lines are clean and neat with curves to add interest in a compact package which is pleasant to look at. As a city car the ASX is stylish and modern.

The lowdown

Well, Mitsubishi has read the market and shown its hand with a small SUV that offers an overall tight package. These diesel variants built on value-for-money foundations will go a long way to helping the Japanese manufacturer achieve its aim of lifting its market share in Australia by 6.4% this year.

What matters most

What we liked: Improved gutsy performance, sporty surges, impressive standard feature inclusions.

What we'd like to see: Fewer hard plastics, more cabin storage

Warranty and servicing: Mitsubishi offers a five-year/130,000 kilometre warranty, capped-price servicing for three years or 60,000km and five-year roadside assist package.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Mitsubishi ASX 2.2 Diesel.

Details: Five-door four-wheel-drive small SUV.

Transmission: Six-speed automatic.

Engine: 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel generating maximum power of 110kW @ 3500rpm and peak torque of 360Nm between 1500rpm-2750rpm.

Consumption: 5.8 litres/100km (combined average).

CO2: 153g/km.

Bottom line: $31,990 (base) and $36,490 (Aspire). Plus on-roads.

The Mitsubishi ASX.
The Mitsubishi ASX.


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