Road test: Mitsubishi ASX has some smooth moves
MID-model touch-ups are quite popular these days as car manufacturers try to keep up their end without the blowout changes of complete overhauls.
In an attempt to rejuvenate interest and sales in the ASX, its small SUV, Mitsubishi has freshened up the offering that first arrived on our shores a little over two years ago.
Clean lines and new colours pep up the outside while the interior too can lay claim to some value-adding inclusions.
Mitsubishi has added a 2WD variant to the top-of-the-range Aspire specification cutting the entry price $28,990. There has also been a price drop of $2000 in the 4WD Aspire diesel and CVT petrol with a panoramic sunroof now standard.
The ASX remains a fairly spacious option with adequate head and legroom. Two adults will be pretty happy in the back but for kids, especially the smaller variety, it will be relative luxury. Seats are wide enough and well supported with a slight recline preventing that pain in the neck.
Cabin finish and materials have been updated with particular attention given to contrasting trim and soft touch plastics.
The raised nature of the ASX enhances visibility which is also helped by wide wing mirrors.
Controls and dials are clear, practical and within easy reach and the climate control easy to operate. Storage options are good and varied although the cup holders in the centre console feel a bit cramped. The boot is deep and at 426 litres (1193 with the rear seat lowered) is adequate for everyday use.
On the road
Mitsubishi has kept the same engines - a 2.0-litre petrol offered with a manual gearbox or CVT and a 1.8-litre turbo diesel in manual and only in the top spec Aspire 4WD.
Engineers have tinkered with the CVT transmission and general suspension to deliver a flatter more comfortable ride. Handling has noticeably improved as has acceleration, performance around tight bends and driver feedback. The ASX remains a pretty responsive unit although the CVT whine is hard to miss when it is pushed.
What do you get?
Aside from the usual bells and whistles the upgrade now includes features like steering wheel controls, voice activated Bluetooth, CD stereo with and iPod compatibility as well as a USB input, along with climate controlled air conditioning and cruise control.
As part of a $995 safety pack on the 2WD model, you get a reverse camera with directional lines, chrome exhaust tip, display audio and rear parking sensors.
Safety is a priority across the range with front, side, curtain and driver's knee airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce
distribution and brake assist as well as stability and traction control, hill start assist and reverse parking sensors.
The small SUV market is the fastest growing sector in the country with little separating the players including the Hyundai ix35 (from $28,990), Mazda CX-5 (from $29,880), Nissan Dualis (from $27,490), Renault Koleos (from $30,490) and the Skoda Yeti (from $28,590).
Mitsubishi markets the ASX as a city SUV, an affordable vehicle that will give you all the benefits of a SUV without actually leaving the bitumen. To this end the ASX offers a feeling of comfort and safety as well as a reasonable amount of space.
There are no problems with manoeuvring and parking while upgrades especially to the steering mounted controls and reverse camera enhances ease of use.
Towing capacity has been boosted from 1050kg to 1300kg for the petrol models and 1400kg for the diesel enough for a small box or camper trailer.
Fuel consumption for the diesel has been cut by .02 litres/100km to 5.7 litres/100km while official figures for the petrol remain at 7.9 litres/100km for the CVT and 7.7 litres/100km for the manual.
Workmanship is backed up by Mitsubishi's five-year/130,000km warranty.
Most of the updates to the ASX have been to the exterior with the modifications to the jet-fighter grille and the rear bumper.
Both the front and back are sporting a rounder more streamlined look in keeping with the new design ethos of the Japanese giant. Changes are subtle but make for a trendier appealing look.
Model: Mitsubishi ASX 2WD.
Details: Five-door front-wheel drive compact SUV.
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic or five-speed manual
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol generating maximum power of 110kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 197Nm @ 4200rpm.
Consumption: 7.9 litres/100km (auto, combined average).
Bottom line: From $25,990, CVT $28,240 (as tested).
What matters most
The good stuff: Economy, new looks, easy drive.
What we'd like to see: A diesel auto but that's on its way.
Warranty: The ASX comes with a five-year/130,000km warranty. It also has capped price servicing, with intervals at 12 months or 15,000km. The 2WD services are $250 each.