Mitsubishi has given its ageing ASX compact family car a significant cosmetic update in an attempt to ensure the Japanese crossover remains competitive in a crowded segment. Are the changes enough to convince buyers to purchase the venerable ASX, however? We spent some time behind the 'wheel of the 2.0 Automatic derivative to find the answer...
We Like: Updated styling, ride quality, good standard spec
We Don’t Like: Old, high fuel consumption, unexciting/bland interior design
- Price: R399 995 (April 2019)
- Engine: Naturally-aspirated, 2.0-litre
- Power/Torque: 110 kW/197 Nm
- Transmission: CVT
- Fuel Economy: 7.9 L/100km
- Load Space: 406-1 206 litres
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What is it?
The ASX now incorporates the brand's bold "Dynamic Shield" design language. It's certainly the most progressive update so far.
The ASX is a compact family car that came to market as long ago as 2011 and Mitsubishi since been updated its crossover on numerous occasions to keep it relevant in a booming segment, which now includes rivals such as the Haval H2, Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Mahindra XUV300, Nissan Qashqai and Suzuki Vitara – to name just a few of its competitors.
While this latest version of the ASX is far from all-new, it marks perhaps the most significant styling update for the ageing model, which now adopts the same "Dynamic Shield" design language that has been so successfully applied to the Triton bakkie and Pajero Sport adventure SUV. Apart from its considerably stronger aesthetic appeal, the ASX gains a larger infotainment system inside as well as an improved standard specification.
We spent some time with the ASX 2.0 automatic to see if all these improvements amount to a convincing buying proposition. Let’s take a closer look...
How it performs in terms of…
Engine performance and fuel economy
The ASX's performance is average, but we found its fuel consumption higher than expected.
Despite the far-ranging changes to its exterior styling, the ASX forges on with the tried-and-tested 2.0-litre non-turbo petrol engine (110 kW and 197 Nm of torque), mated with a 6-step continuously variable automatic transmission.
We found the engine and transmission well-matched in general use; despite its ageing powertrain, the ASX performs admirably both on the highway and in urban driving situations. The 2.0-litre's performance is reasonably good and the ASX does a fair job of getting up to – and then maintaining – speed. No, it’s not sluggish and average family car buyers should find its performance adequate for the daily commute.
The CVT can be a bit lurchy (and noticeably noisier) under harder acceleration, however; it's a trait common to most CVTs and not something you ever really become accustomed to. CVTs are becoming quite prominent in our market as the Japanese brands prefer them to torque-converter auto 'boxes. The ASX's CVT is average compared with the those of the Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester, which are quieter and "shift speeds" in a more refined manner.
This is an old engine and while it’s not as refined as newer products on the market, it’s also not as efficient. Mitsubishi claims an average fuel consumption figure of 7.9 L/100 km and during our test, we saw an indicated 8.9 L/100 km after an extended stint of highway driving, while figures closer to 11 L/100 km were the norm in town, both of which were notably higher than we expected.
Nonetheless, one of the things we liked most about the ASX was its comfortable and forgiving ride quality. We drove the ASX on gravel (for a while) too and came away impressed with how well it copes on uneven road surfaces. Moreover, the ASX offers a positive steering feel, with a relatively good level of feedback to the driver.
Interior execution and features
A larger infotainment system is now fitted and heated seats are a nice-to-have feature.
Step inside the ASX and you are met with a rather sombre black interior featuring a mix of hard and soft plastics and trims of average quality. While the perceived build quality is good, the ASX can’t hide its ageing interior compared with those of newer offerings in this segment. However, the most welcome update is indeed the larger 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility in conjunction with a pair of USB ports up front to connect devices. While these are useful features to have, they do feel like add-ons plugged into an older cabin design (it reminds us of the last update to the Ford Kuga's fascia).
The ASX is also equipped with nice-to-have features such as keyless entry, a panoramic glass roof, leather upholstery with ventilated front seats, a multifunction steering wheel with rake/reach adjustment, cruise control, electric windows, automatic aircon, electric folding mirrors, rear park distance control and a reverse-view camera. If you're the sort of buyer purely interested in function over form, the ASX's interior ticks a lot of boxes.
Family car buyers will also be happy to know that the ASX is well-sorted in terms of safety features with 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, brake assist, electronic stability control with traction control as well as hill-start assist.
A large, useable load bay makes the ASX a practical choice in this segment.
The ASX performs strongly in terms of practicality by offering a relatively capacious load bay, which is claimed to have a 406-litre capacity and, with the 60:40 split rear seats folded down, expands to a useful 1 206 litres. That puts the ASX's luggage space right in the ballpark with rivals such as the Kia Seltos (433 litres) and the Suzuki Vitara (375 litres).
Rear passenger legroom is generous too, but with the bench's near-upright seating position, taller passengers may find it more difficult to sit comfortably on longer journeys. The ASX is equipped with 2 cupholders up front, along with bottle storage in the door mouldings and additional storage space in the central bin.
Price and warranty
The Mitsubishi ASX 2.0 automatic is priced from R399 995 and is sold with a 3-year/100 000 km warranty and a 5-year/90 000 km service plan.
While not prohibitively flawed in any way, the ASX is old, but still capable of serving its owner well. We can't wait to see an all-new ASX!
Of all the iterations of the Mitsubishi ASX we have seen over the years, this latest update is by far the most visually-striking. More than that though, the upgraded infotainment system brings the ASX up to date with its rivals. Apart from offering average overall performance, the Japanese crossover comes well equipped with standard features and remains a relatively practical choice in this segment.
However, the raft of changes can’t hide the fact that the ASX is almost a decade old. Buyers have myriad choices available to them in the compact family-car segment and while the changes to the ASX are welcome, in our opinion, there's nothing particularly special about it – it's just average. Because it's a reasonable all-rounder, but not a standout offering in any particular facet of its package (the Mitsubishi doesn't even have newness in its favour), the ASX is likely to remain an afterthought in this segment until a new, more exciting model comes to market. Time to get back to the drawing board, Mitsubishi!