Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good Arriving Down Under in August 2010 and receiving a new variant and midlife facelift in August 2012, the Mitsubishi ASX is a freshly styled compact Crossover that shares the same lengthy wheelbase as the brands bigger Outlander = a surprisingly roomy interior.

Thanks to a significantly more pert rear end (read much shorter overhang), a lower roofline and cooler shaped wheel-arches, the Mitsubishi ASX is by far the better looker of the two. It’s also on average a couple of hundred kilograms lighter (depending on grade), available in 2WD grades or with selectable 4WD and with a choice of a 2.0-litre petrol or 1.8-litre turbo diesel with variable valve timing (making it the first diesel powered SUV in Australia with this technology).
Not so good The aggressive front grille, which is also found on Mitsubishi’s Lancer small family car and the Outlander, is not for shy types - however all of our test team gave it the nod of approval.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good Whilst up front the interior is similar in design to the previously mentioned Lancer and Outlander, the ASX manages to step up the ambience a notch thanks to some soft touch materials on the dash and little touches like the brushed metal looking trim scattered around the cabin. Chrome accents on the A/C dials and combination cluster meter give the interior a touch of elegance. All grades come with a nice to hold multi-function leather wrapped steering wheel with both rake (up and down) and reach (in and out) adjustment and a generously sized driver’s seat offering decent support. The second row bench seat offers a good amount of legroom (thanks to the ASX sharing the same length wheelbase as the bigger Outlander) and adequate headroom for most adults. The side and front view out, whether you're sitting in the front or the second row, is also very good (a benefit of a command style seating layout). Boot space is decent for a compact SUV (just over 440L with the rear split fold bench in the up position, but growing to almost 1,200L with it folded down). Rear visibility from the driver’s seat is also good.
Not so good Yes the interior is a step forward, but it’s still by no means truly excellent. Much of the materials inside are still of the hard and shiny plastic variety (especially around the doors) and the standard leather covered seats on the Aspire grades doesn't look especially premium and could offer greater grip (especially as the front buckets are wide and relatively flat in side support). The rear bench seat isn't as clever as a couple of competitors that offer individual sliding seats in the second row and as the ASX is slightly narrower than the Outlander if you're thinking of regularly fitting three adults in the rear, we recommend testing this out first (but to be fair, this is a ‘compact’ segment SUV, not a full size player). Whilst we've no complaints on the size of the rear cargo space (especially considering the pert rear end styling), the boot lip is higher than we'd ideally like.
Performance

Performance

Good Two engines to choose from – a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (sourced from the Lancer) which produces 110kW of power and 197Nm of torque or the excellent 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel which also delivers 110kW of power but a significantly beefier 300Nm of torque. Official combined fuel economy for both engines is impressive – the 2WD petrol with the five-speed manual is 7.7-litres per 100kms, 7.9-litres with the continuously variable transmission (CVT), 8.1-litres for the AWD petrol (CVT only) and a very, very low 5.8-litre for the six-speed manual AWD-only diesel.

The 1.8-litre turbo diesel engine is our pick of the two engines. It is easily competitive with larger 2.0-litre diesel competitors, offering lots of usable low down torque and very good throttle response (both the benefit of the variable valve timing technology). Excellent in gear flexibility; less of a need to downchange when approaching an incline, however that’s not to say the six-speed gearbox is a chore to use.

Both engines are quite capable with towing capacities of 1,300kg on petrol models and 1,400kg on diesel models.
Not so good The turbo diesel sounds slightly less refined (err, noisier) than a number of competitors in the compact SUV segment – most noticeable at higher revs. However, we’d still take it over the petrol engine, which whilst by no means shabby, is decidedly less high tech than the diesel. Surprisingly, the petrol grades are also on the loud side and especially with heavy use of the accelerator pedal.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good The Mitsubishi ASX is a safe and predictable handling compact SUV. On the road and in most conditions a typical family will encounter, the 2WD only grade stays composed as speeds increase, offering good levels of grip. The AWD grades offer even greater road handling, providing the driver a choice between full-time front-wheel drive, automatic four-wheel drive (where the system chooses between the front or rear wheels depending on traction) or permanent four-wheel drive. The ride also feels like it has been tuned for Australian roads, thankfully.

Steering feel can initially feel a touch light, however after spending more time driving the ASX we found it to be well-weighted and consistent. The brakes are sourced the heavier Outlander, so no surprise that they offer decent stopping power.
Not so good Not surprisingly (and not really a problem) the 2WD ASX will resort to understeer, most noticeably in wet conditions. The steering is prone to excessive kickback over some rough surfaces (more so than in the larger Outlander, however the ASX does use a unique electric power steering system). Overall, the handling is one notch below the sportiest Compact SUV.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good All grades come standard with seven airbags (twin front, front-side, side curtain and a driver’s knee airbag), electronic stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution. The standard features list is also good (for example automatic climate-control air-conditioning, cruise control, and a multi-function trip computer); the top grade Aspire gets 17 inch alloys (the entry level ASX gets 16’s), keyless entry and start, auto headlights, leather finished seats (& heated front seats) with an electric adjustable driver’s seat, a decent nine speaker Rockford Fosgate audio system, Bluetooth phone connectivity and Mitsubishi’s Multi Communication System. The optional panoramic sunroof (available only on the Aspire grades) is also good value at only $800. Buyers can also choose from the standard space-saver temporary spare wheel or a full size spare wheel for a small extra cost.
Not so good Turbo diesel fans who don’t wish to change gears themselves will have to wait as Mitsubishi don’t yet offer the ASX with the super frugal diesel engine and an automatic gearbox (however we expect this to change sometime in 2011). The base grades do without the classy big screen in the centre of the ASX’s dash and must make do with a less high tech small display (and a more basic 4 speaker audio system).