Launched in 2009 to high expectations, the Mitsubishi ASX failed to make an impact on the competitive Sports Utility Vehicle sector which at present is dominated by the Nissan Qashqai and Toyota Rav4.
However according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, in 2014-2015 sales grew by as much as 20% for the ASX. This is already on top of Mitsubishi sales, in general, rising over the last 3 years. This might account as to why we are seeing more and more ASX’s on the road. Now 7-years-older and finally finding love on the forecourt, can it now start worrying the competition? I had one for a week to find out.
Visually she’s aged well. It is still striking to look at and in a carpark full of small SUVs from the likes of VW and BMW it demonstrates a victory against the bland.
Sadly the interior cannot be said to have impressed as much. While the seats were supportive and comfortable with an impossible to locate switch to heat them, the plastics were of the hard wearing type similar to what’s used in the man machines from Mitsubishi like in their L200 pick up. There lacked a soft touch feel about the cabin. This soft touch was further lacking in stupid imprinted signs on the door pockets and centre console saying “no cups!” Most annoying after all it’s my car and I’ll put cups where I want them. Bottles were allowed in the door pockets.
Further annoyances were found with the lack of illuminated switches on the doors for windows and mirrors except for one flimsy light for the drivers switch. You forget how much you take for granted an illuminated switch in the dark. So instead of giving these lights, Mitsubishi added some sunshine lights into the glass roof panel and it screamed cheap electrical light tape found on a famous auction website. That said when the roof panel was open it did make the spacious cabin even more tardis like. It wasn’t an unpleasant place to be if I am honest.
And then there was the satnav and its illumination horrors. In the day the system was like Dr Jekyll. However, come dusk and nightfall it became Mr Hyde. At night in day mode it was just too bright. Thankfully there is a switch that turns it to night mode. It then becomes too dark using blacks and blues in colour.
So far there isn’t a lot to recommend this 7-year-old car and then you drive it. Two things stand out as negatives. Firstly there is an almighty amount of road roar in the back. At first, I thought I had the window open. Secondly, from a standing start, there is an awful delay that catches you out when pulling into traffic. This can be over come by trying to get a slight roll going before you push down hard on the accelerator. It is then that the 2.2-litre diesel engine mated to one of the smoothest 6-speed automatic boxes l have tried makes you feel like you’ve spent a million dollars. Mitsubishi gives you paddle shifts on the steering wheel too but unless you are really into spirited driving there is very little need to use them. The gearbox was always in the right gear.
This impressive gearbox and power unit managed to further impress in its economy in 4WD where l found it at its best as a driver’s car and in road behaviour.
In 2WD the economy according to the onboard computer was exactly the same over the same route of 31MPG. As you would expect in 4WD, traction was increased and it was also felt that the traction control system was less needed in keeping it where it was pointed. And then there are the headlights. Nothing fancy about these units, they didn’t even swivel. What they did give you though was a beautiful beam pattern and crystal clear view on even the grimmest of road conditions. Commuting through the wildness of Surrey I found there was little need to use the main beam.
So the ASX was starting to make me appreciate it and its appeal so quickly lost on taking delivery was starting to make sense. There is bags of room inside and the cabin does have a tardis feel about it. The boot is very generous for this size of vehicle and rear seat leg room with my 6-foot frame behind the wheel was more than adequate. With this opulent amount of space must come a good heating system and it was good. And then it was bad. and then it was perfect. Call it what you like but there were times l felt like Goldilocks. Set to 19 degrees it would heat the cabin until it was as hot as the sun and then cool it down with blasts of cold. Only then would it settle to a perfect temperature. This lasted around 10 miles per journey and opening a window would only confuse it.
Where this ASX really excels is in its price. The top end £24,899 model is £1400 more expensive that its 1.6-litre sister and that only comes in manual. You do pay more at the pumps if you go by official figures of over 10 MPG worse for the 2.2 but only 4 MPG over the extra urban. I, however, was not able to match even its lowest figure of 39.8 for the urban dash. Compare the top of the range ASX to its lowest family member and it £9,000 saving doesn’t make the 1.6 ASX 2WD look good at all unless you are after an estate looking vehicle with no functions. The ASX is already 10 years out of date, don’t do yourself a disservice and make it worse by opting for the lesser model.
Overall all is not lost for the quite likeable ASX. According to the 14 owners on the Autotrader website, it scored 4.6 stars out of 5 and prices are set to become even more competitive with talk of a new model ASX coming in 2017. Need yourself an SUV with a 5-year warranty? Now is the time to talk to Mitsubishi.
Poor switch gear
Throttle response from standing start
Car – Mitsubishi ASX
Price – £24,899 (as tested)
MPG – 39.8 urban
Power – 147 bhp (at 3500 rpm)
0-62mph – 10.8 seconds
Top Speed – 118 MPH
Co2 – 152 g/km
by Stuart M Bird