03:23PM, Friday 06 March 2020
It would be easy to dismiss the latest Mitsubishi ASX as a top and tail job, a mere facelift.
Although the centre section remains largely the same on the outside, there is substantial revision to the metalwork at the front, with a clamshell bonnet a la Range Rover (not an intentional 50th anniversary tribute to the RR we suspect) and better lights at the back.
But it’s what’s under the skin that really counts despite many buyers initially being influenced by the presence of a mid-size SUV that doesn’t major on whacky styling to the detriment of much else.
All versions of the ASX now get a two litre petrol engine and but the most crucial thing is the addition of four wheel drive with an automatic CVT transmission – you can have a manual gearbox but that only comes with front wheel drive which rather underlines the Mitsubishi handbook advice that this is not an off-road car, merely one that can cope with occasionally difficult, and mainly on-road, conditions.
That does raise another issue – whenever you start the automatic car, it engages 4x4. It’s a feature that by Mitsubishi’s own admission is rarely needed so it would make more sense to start in front wheel drive and let you select 4x4 when you need it.
You might ask what difference this makes but there is a real effect on fuel consumption. Remember to press the button twice to take you to front wheel drive and you’ll see 36 – 37 mpg with ease. Forget and the car will hover around the 31 mpg mark, making a significant dent in your petrol budget. A simple re-progam of the electronics could eliminate this.
Is it enough to say don’t have an ASX? Not at all. It’s an annoying detail and ownership familiarity would make pressing the button twice part of the regular start-up routine. It would just be better not to have to do it.
The Mitsubishi has plenty of competition in a crowded field, but make that a crowded muddy field and it could be a skilled escape artist where many pseudo-SUVs would struggle because they only have front wheel drive. It was a very likeable car in virtually every respect and one that most people would happily live with. There is no diesel option but that is also becoming the norm and compared with the two litre Subaru Forester, which follows the CVT auto, two litre petrol engine route to mobility but with permanent 4x4, the Mitsubishi is a very attractive substitute. Many will go so far as to say the ASX is a definite better choice.
What will make you love it even more is the price. Max out on the ASX Exceed with the CVT and 4x4 and you’ll have parted with £25,945, the price of a run-of-the-mill family hatch. The difference between that and the Forester list price is enough to buy you a decent second car. That might draw attention away from the fact that adding the 4x4 and CVT transmission lifts the price by £2,850 compared with the Exceed manual five speed, which retails at a smidgeon over £23,000, excellent value when compared with other crossover cars. Opt for the Dynamic base model and you’ll be on the road for £20,295.
It’s not as if the ASX limits the luxuries you can enjoy. Even the Dynamic gets keyless ignition, automatic air conditioning, and cruise control. The Exceed adds a panoramic glass roof, leather heated front seats, and powered adjustment for the driver’s seat. Both get 18 inch alloy wheels shod with decent section tyres with sufficient side wall depth to aid the suspension in smoothing the ride. Very few potholes and ruts make themselves felt in the cabin.
The cabin is not an unpleasant place to be unless you are a tall passenger riding in the back, where the space taken up by the retracted blind for the panoramic roof limits headroom. Other than that, there’s sufficient space for four adults to travel but five would be a squeeze.
There’s also a decent and sensibly-shaped boot area but the presence under the floor of a goo-and-go kit rather than a spare wheel is not what we like to see in a 4x4. Stick a spacesaver under the carpet and it’s all you need.
Car: Mitsubishi ASX Exceed Auto 4WD
Does it fit your ego...
0-62 mph: 12.2 secs
Top speed: 118 mph
Bhp: 150 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 195 Nm @ 4,200 rpm
...and your wallet...
Combined: 34.4 mpg
CO2 emissions: 185 g/km
Best bits: great value 4x4