Mitsubishi ASX: A nervous time ahead

Riley Riley


What is it?

ASX has been and continues to be an absolute gold mine for Mitsubishi.

Since its launch 10 years ago and now in its third generation, not to mention umpteen facelifts, ASX continues to dominate the small SUV section of the market — it’s been the segment leader for the last three years.

Why has it been so successful? The answer to that one is easy — because it looks good, is priced right and offers exceptional value for money (not to mention a 7-year warranty).

So, why wouldn’t you buy an ASX? Well, for a start, it’s as old as Adam.

But that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing, does it? Like the saying goes — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


What’s it cost?

You can get into a two-wheel drive ASX with a 2.0-litre engine and five-speed manual for as little as $24,990 driveaway.

Not surprisingly they sell a lot of cars, based on this figure alone. And, interestingly, it’s the same price you would have paid for one way back in 2010 — despite the fact it’s a much better equipped car these days.

Then there’s the 2.0-litre ES with the ADAS safety package for $29,490, 2.0-litre LS for $30,440 or top of the line 2.4-litre Exceed for $35,990, with the sporty, black look 2.0-litre MR and 2.4-litre GSR models thrown in for good measure, priced at $28,490 and $34,990 respectively.

All prices are driveaway.

Looking at the fine print, there’s no diesel anymore, nor is any of the line up all-wheel drive.

Standard equipment includes cloth trim and single-zone climate air conditioning, tilt and reach adjust steering wheel, LED head, tail and daytime running lights, 18 inch alloys, rear-view camera and a large 8.0-inch touchscreen with four-speaker audio that includes DAB digital radio plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Stepping up to the Exceed gets you leather trim and two-zone climate air, with power adjustment for the driver’s seat, heating for the front seats, push button start, rear parking sensors, auto high beam, auto lights and wipers, auto dimming rear view mirror, a huge fixed sunroof ringed by mood lighting and kick-arse Rockford Fosgate 9-speaker audio with a big subwoofer hidden in the boot.

Safety’s a bit skint in the entry model, which is why they offer the ADAS safety pack separately for $2500, but by the time you plant your behind in the Exceed, there’s seven airbags and a host of other safety features.

That includes Forward Collision Monitor, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Change Assist, Reversing collision avoidance (camera) and emergency stop signal which flashes the brake lights at more than 55km/h.


What’s it go like?

The cabin is roomy and reasonably comfortable, with power adjustment for the driver’s seat.

The driver’s seat in our test vehicle, however, rocked backwards and forwards slightly which is something of a worry.

Despite the latest revamp, the background plastics feel and look downmarket, dragging down the ambience of the cabin.

The fixed, panoramic sunroof is huge and has an electrically operated sunshade, but it left us wondering how much it contributes to cabin heat during the height of summer.

Rear  legroom is okay but there’s no air vents for back seat passengers, while the luggage area offers reasonable capacity, with a space saver spare under the floor.

The large 8.0 inch touchscreen is dominant, with physical volume and tuning knobs, while it’s good to see a return of built-in navigation with speed camera warnings (there was a period when you had to rely on your phone).

The 2.0-litre engine produces 110kW of power and 197Nm of torque, just like before.

It’s the same engine that powered my father-in-law’s ASX way back, which was never going to set the world on fire.

In comparison, the larger, 2.4-litre engine in the current Exceed delivers 123kW and 222Nm — the latter at 4100 revs.

It’s coupled with a CVT style auto that offers a sport mode, called Ds (at least I think it’s a sport mode) which keeps engine revs above 3000 rpm.

But there’s no steps or simulated gears and you can’t change gears manually, which might explain the lack of steering wheel change paddles.

You want paddles, you need to get the sportier GSR model with the black bits.

The ride in Exceed is plush rather than sporty, but in some ways it is a welcome change from the rock hard suspensions of some SUVs.

Performance from the larger 2.4-litre engine is okay but not attention getting, at least not in stock Drive mode.

Put it in Ds though and it really hauls arse if you’re up it, pushing all the way into redline territory.

At 100km/h in this mode it sits at 3400 rpm on the motorway. Changing back to D sees the revs drop back to 1750 rpm at the same speed.

In my experience, CVTs seem to work better with larger more powerful engines and the ASX is no exception.

Having said that, we’re not big fans of CVT, despite the better fuel consumption that they produce.

With that softer suspension, however, it’s a bit of a soggy biscuit in corners, but to its credit doesn’t let go (well we did manage a bit of sideways action).

Despite the fact it gets autonomous emergency braking, it misses out on active cruise control — the two generally go hand in hand.

Claimed fuel consumption for this model is 7.9L/100km.

The trip computer was showing 9.2L/100km on its return, with 430km on the clock.

BUT, as we have pointed out on numerous occasions, it’s a bit hard to tell what the car actually gets when the trip computer keeps resetting automatically.

Not even Mitsubishi has been able to provide the answer to this annoying little idiosyncrasy, despite the passage of years.

And, before we forget, what the hell is the deal with bluetooth phone calls?

The sound comes only from the passenger side speaker and this extends to other models in the range.

Let’s just say, it’s not good news for deaf heads like yours truly.


What we like?

  • Looks
  • Performance
  • Fuel economy (I think)
  • Physical volume and tuning knobs
  • Killer Rockford Fosgate audio
  • Yay, it’s got satnav


What we don’t like?

  • Feels tinny
  • Showing its age
  • Interior doesn’t live up to Exceed badge
  • No digital speedo
  • No rear air outlets
  • No adaptive cruise control


The bottom line?

As always, the Mitsubishi ASX offers just about unbeatable value for money.

It’s looking better than ever too, with the new family face finally in place and the welcome return of satnav.

It will be a nervous Mitsubishi that eventually delivers a successor to this car whenever that may be?

2020 Mitsubishi ASX Exceed 6

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Mitsubishi ASX Exceed, priced from $35,990 driveaway
  • Looks - 8/10
  • Performance - 7.5/10
  • Safety - 7.5/10
  • Thirst - 7.5/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 8/10