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Driven: Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.

Driven: Mitsubishi ASX
A week with Mitsubishi's overlooked crossover reveals a capable machine, but not one that sets the genre alight.

   



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| Test drive | Mitsubishi ASX |

Overall rating: 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Good points: economical, good value, plenty of space inside, decent driving characteristics
Not so good: old-fashioned interior, noisy diesel engine, ergonomic niggles

Key Facts

Model tested: Mitsubishi ASX4 2.2 Diesel 4WD Auto
Pricing: 24,649
Engine: 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Transmission: four-wheel drive, six-speed automatic
Body style: five-door crossover
Rivals: Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai, Skoda Yeti Outdoor
CO2 emissions: 153g/km
Combined economy: 48.7mpg
Top speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 10.8 seconds
Power: 150hp at 3,500rpm
Torque: 360Nm from 1,500- to 2,750rpm

Our view:

Without the Lancer Evolution flying the halo flag for Mitsubishi in the UK any more, you'd be forgiven for not being entirely sure what the Japanese car manufacturer offers. Aside from the i-MiEV and the Mirage ('the what?', we hear you cry) hatchbacks, its range is now heavily focused towards crossovers and SUVs. Vehicles like the old warhorse Shogun, the L200 pick-up and the three varieties of Outlander (normal, commercial, PHEV) handle the larger-scale stuff, leaving this - the ASX - to battle any number of smaller crossover rivals.

It's been around since 2010 and has been largely unchanged since then, but here we're driving the range-topping ASX4 2.2-litre diesel with an automatic gearbox, which we had an update late last year. On the face of it, the near-25,000 price tag looks steep, but then this is the most powerful engine you can get in the ASX, with a self-shifting transmission and all-wheel drive, plus a load of standard equipment - the only factory-fit option available for this ASX4 is a DAB digital radio.

So buyers benefit from climate control, Bluetooth capability, satnav with touchscreen infotainment, leather trim, cruise control, electric doors and mirrors, iPod compatibility, heated seats, keyless entry and go, auto lights and wipers and the slightly bizarre tech combination of a rear-view camera, but no reverse parking sensors. And while we're on a minor gripe, the Kenwood infotainment system in the centre of the dash looks as aftermarket as you would expect (given it's not a Mitsubishi item) and has fiddly buttons and a small screen.

There are more ergonomic and design niggles within. Some of the interfaces - such as the dials and digital display in the instrument cluster - are nice and there's a generally tidy shape and order to the dashboard. But the electric window switches look tired, there's an abundance of those big, rectangular lozenge buttons that went out of fashion in 1988 and why anyone thought putting rocker-switches for the heated seats just in front of the seatbelt clip was a good idea is beyond us; you end up accidentally knocking them with your hand at the start of a journey, there's no warning light in the dashboard to tell you and they're hidden from view by the seat side bolsters. Also, why is the button to cycle through the trip computer read-outs not on the end of the indicator or wiper stalks? It's behind the latter to the right of the instrument cluster and has 'INFO' writ large on it in some sort of basic sans-serif font; again, very 1980s.

However, the driving position is good and lofty, while the full-length panoramic roof on this model is so 21st century, dahling. There's plenty of room in the back for adults, even with a six-foot driver in place, while the boot is a good size, shape and has a removable rubber mat on the floor, which isn't a new idea but it is a damned useful one in terms of it being easier to keep the cargo bay clean. The paddles for shifting the auto gearbox are also a sturdy design and have a good feel. Pity you don't bother using them after the first mile or two.

That's because there's no facet of the ASX's drive that's remarkable enough to make you charge along a back road in a contradictory-to-its-design manner. The steering is adequately weighted, the brakes inoffensive and the gearbox smooth enough but somewhat archaic in this dual-clutch day and age. The 2,268cc engine (that's a 2.3, Mitsubishi, not a 2.2), as a common rail diesel, is punchy. On paper, the ASX's performance stats are competitive in class but it has an urge about it that makes it seem even more powerful than it is. The problem is the engine sounds agricultural by class standards, with a loud clatter evident most of the time. However, a pleasant, smooth ride and low levels of body roll make covering long distances in the ASX easy, while it looked well capable of meeting and even exceeding its quoted combined economy figure. That was maybe because we left it in 2WD mode most of the time, given we drove it during a surprisingly dry British summer.

A big factor in swinging any buying decision is going to be the looks, always a subjective area. From the front, the ASX is nicely sculpted and more than a little reminiscent of an Evo X. There's something odd about the back end, though, as if it's not quite in proportion with the rest of the car. It's possibly because the top of the bonnet is well above the swage line that runs the length of the car, making the nose look large and imposing and the rear a touch apologetic. Also, the 17-inch wheels make for those nice ride characteristics we mentioned earlier but they're utterly lost in the wheel arches visually. However, there's enough appeal about it to prevent it being ugly and we reckon a Dakar or Evo special edition - with flared arches, bigger wheels and a few spoilers - would look tasty.

Overall, we'd say the ASX has merit due to its high specification at a reasonable price, decent economy, pleasant driving manners and large amount of interior practicality, coupled with the belief that Mitsubishis are normally reliable. It doesn't do anything extraordinary in this class and it has an interior and engine that betray its age, which might put the fashion-conscious off. However, recent figures from the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that Mitsubishi as a brand is having a phenomenal year so far in 2014, while in June sales of the ASX alone rose by 92 per cent. Clearly, the appeal of this often-overlooked crossover is starting to shine through.

Alternatives:

Kia Sportage: a larger vehicle physically than the Mitsubishi yet the boot is awkward to get at due to a high loading lip. Top spec gets near 30,000, but does give you more power than the ASX.

Nissan Qashqai: recently refreshed and looking more like its X-Trail big brother, the Nissan can lay claim to starting the crossover phenomenon. Costly, though - a 1.5 dCi Tekna with 110hp and front-wheel drive is 24,840.

Skoda Yeti Outdoor: lovely, clever cabin, nice looks, excellent dynamics, modern drivetrains - it's very hard to recommend the ASX over one of these. Fully-loaded Laurent & Klemin models start at 25,490, however, making the Mitsubishi look like a bargain.


Matt Robinson - 14 Aug 2014



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2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.

2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.



2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.
 

2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.
 

2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.
 

2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.
 

2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.
 

2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.
 

2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.
 

2014 Mitsubishi ASX. Image by Max Earey.
 






 

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