Mitsubishi’s ASX AWD
  |  First Published: December 2012

The Mitsubishi ASX, first released two years ago in two wheel drive and all wheel drive models, has recently undergone a face lift for the forthcoming 2013 model.

The compact Mitsubishi ASX is positioned in a very competitive market where the likes of the VW Tiguan, Subaru XV, and the Nissan Dualis, are competing for the consumer’s dollar. However, Mitsubishi don’t buckle under pressure, instead they modified where most needed, while still retaining the essence of the ASX theme.

Subtle changes

At first view the latest version of the ASX does not appear to have changed a great deal, although the latest model shows cleaner lines across the front and rear bumpers, plus a modified grille.

There are also changes to the interior trim and some extra equipment added. The all wheel drive Aspire models come with a panoramic glass roof and leather seating, for a touch of luxury. While changes to the 2013 model are quite subtle, they certainly are effective in quietly upgrading the ASX.

Under its sleek and shapely bonnet, nothing has changed for the 2013 model. Two engines are available: a four cylinder 110kw/197Nm 2L petrol engine (as reviewed), or a powerful 1.8L turbo diesel, which is available in manual version only at this stage with an auto in the pipeline. Petrol engines are linked to either a manual gearbox or revised CVT auto in the Aspire model.

I was impressed with the CVT unit. While silky smooth in operation it could also be tweaked into a six speed manual box via steering column-mounted paddles, just for a bit of fun driving.

Whether in standard ‘drive’ mode or paddling about deliberately planting the right foot won’t cause any push back into the seat; instead the engine revs encouragingly as speed increases with a bit of torque steer thrown into the mix, courtesy of the front wheel drive.

Sliding into the ASX Aspire’s driver seat, I immediately noticed the sleek dash with its chrome accents, darker interior colours and the uplifted seat fabrics. In the Aspire Variant there’s also a good-sized touch screen for audio and other controls that doubles as a very clear and practical reversing mirror when required.

The steering wheel is set up with intuitive controls for audio and cruise control units. The Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity systems were of a high standard with voice controls taking the place of buttons. The cruise control system was as good as any I’ve had the pleasure of using. Engine start up was through a Stop/Start button on the dash.

Electric seat adjustment

The ASX’s high driving position seems to make a driver feel that they are behind the wheel of a much larger vehicle. The electric adjustment for the Aspire’s driver seat was extremely easy to use and I was able to find just the right amount of rake and reach for real comfort while driving.

The steering wheel also has telescopic adjustment for reach. Visibility was excellent as there were no large A pillars to contend with when on the move.

Finally, rear seat passengers are also treated to a fair degree of leg room, considering that the ASX is boldly sold as a compact SUV. And compact it is, competing directly with the company’s Lancer for small car sales.

On the road

The All Wheel Drive Aspire Drive ASX was a pleasure to drive. While admittedly no fire breather, the 16 valve DOHC petrol engine did an excellent job of punting the ASX in city traffic and bowling along at best speed on the M1 and other freeways.

The ride was top shelf, thanks to plenty of suspension. It did a very good job of keeping the vehicle’s ladder frame body firmly on the road at the same time as insulating occupants from any back road bumps or thumps.

The Aspire AWD has standard 2WD via the front wheels with AWD on command by pressing a button on the console. It’s very easy to move to 4WD on the fly at speeds up to 100km/h, which will take care of a few greasy or gravel road situations, or even forest trails for that matter. The beach? Only if you are very confident of the drive on/drive off area, and even then I’d have a snatch strap handy.

Convenience and Safety

Mitsubishi are very strong on convenience and safety, with the ASX having a five star ANCAP rating.

Features within the first category are keyless entry, power windows all round, electric tailgate opener, cargo area lamp, multi-information display plus two accessory power sockets on the console and instrument panel. Safety is paramount with side and curtain SRS air bags to complement the standard driver/passenger air bags; the driver also enjoys a knee air bag. There’s ABS, a brake over-ride system, EBD, Active Traction control, Hill Start Control, plus so many other features.

In summing up, the ASX All Wheel Drive Aspire is a compact yet amazingly roomy SUV. Highly capable and comfortable at the same time it’s definitely worth a close look if in the market for an easy car to live with, fun to drive compact SUV. Cost is around the $35,000 mark. Towing capacity is 1300kg for a braked trailer, fuel consumption around the 10L per 100km depending on driving conditions.

Reads: 2003

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