Motoring review: Mitsubishi ASX
PUBLISHED: 11:05 17 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:05 17 February 2016
Mitsubishi has a reputation for 4x4s and pick-ups, but its ASX compact crossover has escaped people's attention - a great shame, says motoring editor Andy Russell
Just over one in every 10 cars sold in the UK is a mid-size crossover, but there’s one model that seems to be overlooked in all the hype and excitement. It comes from the same stable as the mighty go-anywhere Shogun 4x4 and the market-leading L200 pick-up, but Mitsubishi’s ASX compact crossover has not made it on to buyers’ radar in a sector dominated by the Nissan Qashqai. That’s a big surprise and a great shame, because it’s very likeable and capable.
The ASX has been refreshed outside with a mild makeover that gives it a more dynamic look, and more widespread updates are inside, all aimed at making it feel more refined. To be honest, you’d be hard-pressed to spot the difference unless you know what you’re looking for but that’s no bad thing because the ASX wasn’t lacking in the design department. The prominent nose, dominated by a huge grille, makes it stand out. Shame the bland back end blends in with so many rivals.
A new 112bhp 1.6-l turbo diesel joins the updated Euro 6 115bhp 1.6 petrol and 147bhp 2.2-l turbo diesel automatic. At first, the 1.6 diesel felt underpowered, but the more you drive, the more you appreciate it. Once used to making the most of the mid-range pull, keeping it in the power band with the precise six-speed manual gearbox, it makes good progress – just as well, as it’s gruff-revved hard. Running around, expect 45-50mpg (I saw 54mpg with a good run). If you need or want the peace of mind of extra traction, the range-topping ZC-H version has four-wheel drive.
It drives very well – boasting a supple, composed ride at speed – but it’s sensitive to pockmarked urban surfaces and roadworks scars when travelling slowly, although not unpleasantly so.
It’s also quite entertaining through the twists and turns thanks to good feel and feedback from the steering and body roll kept in check for a flat, cornering stance.
The fascia is clear and simple but, while the rotary controls and switches are easy to locate and work perfectly well, they look dated – even with gloss-black panels and brightwork highlights. There are soft-touch materials at the contact points. Move further down the fascia and the plastics are hard and scratchy, but should prove durable and easy to clean.
Storage is good with a large lidded locker between the front seats, a huge glovebox and big doorbins with bottle-holders.
Full marks to the excellent heating and ventilation system, which warms up and clears misted windows quickly and efficiently.
There’s plenty of space for families to travel in comfort with enough legroom in the back for six-footers – you could carry three adults in the back without it being too much of a squeeze but there’s a hump in the middle of the floor to be straddled.
The 419-litre boot has a high floor, with a 26-litre underfloor compartment, and deep, flat sides for a decent amount of luggage. Rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold flat with the boot floor to create a 1,193-litre load bay.
Entry-level ZC comes only with the 1.6-litre petrol engine but includes alloy wheels, air-con, stability and traction control, keyless entry, seven airbags, front fog lights and leather steering wheel and gear knob. Mid-spec ZC-M covers most bases, unless you must have four-wheel drive, by adding 18in alloys, black wheel arch garnishes, climate control, start-stop button, parking sensors, cruise control, auto lights and wipers, brighter headlamps with washers and LED daytime running lights, heated front seats, DAB radio and auto-dimming rear-view mirror. And leather upholstery in an option.
The Mitsubishi ASX is smart, well-equipped, well-priced, pleasant to drive and easy to live with – many drivers would want no more. The problem is it is overshadowed by bigger-volume crossovers, so doesn’t get a chance to shine as brightly as it deserves to.
Price: ASX ZC-M 1.6 2WD £19,499 (range £15,249-£24,899)
Engine: 1,560cc, 112bhp, four-cylinder turbo diesel
Performance: 0-62mph 11.2 seconds; top speed 113mph
MPG: Urban 54.3; extra urban 67.3; combined 61.4
CO2 emissions: 119g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 21 per cent
Insurance group: 18E (out of 50)
Warranty: Five years or 62,500 miles
Size: L 4,295mm; W 1,810mm; H 1,625mm