Mitsubishi ASX crossover overlooked but not overwhelmed
11:49 11 December 2015
Mitsubishi’s ASX compact crossover seems to have escaped people’s attention which is 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 is 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, whatever reason, Mitsubishi’s ASX compact crossover has not made it on to buyers’ radar in a sector dominated by the Nissan Qashqai.
Having driven the latest model, that’s a big surprise and a great shame because it’s very likeable and capable.
And it looks the part
The ASX has been refreshed with a mild makeover, to give it a slightly more dynamic look, and more widespread updates inside, all aimed 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 but the prominent nose, dominated by a huge grille, really makes it stand out. Shame the bland back end blends in with so many rival crossovers and does not have the same impact.
Under the bonnet
A new 112bhp 1.6-litre turbo diesel joins the updated Euro 6 115bhp 1.6 petrol and 147bhp 2.2-litre turbo diesel automatic.
At first the 1.6 diesel felt underpowered but the more you drive it, the more you appreciate it. Once used to making the most of 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 to 50mpg and I saw 54mpg with a good run, cruising quietly at motorway speeds.
If you need or want the peace of mind of extra traction the range-topping ZC-H version gets four-wheel drive.
How does it drive?
Very well – the ASX boasts a supple, composed ride at speed but is sensitive to pockmarked urban surfaces and roadworks scars 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.
At the wheel
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 giving it a lift.
There are soft-touch materials at the contact points but 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 which make it family-friendly.
And full marks to the excellent heating and ventilation system which warms up and clears misted windows quickly and efficiently.
Space and comfort
There’s also 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 straddle.
The 419-litre boot has a high floor, with a 26-litre underfloor compartment, and is well shaped with deep, flat sides so takes 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.