It appears that if there’s one thing that’s better than a diesel SUV it’s an automatic diesel SUV!
Upon its release last year the Mitsubishi ASX all wheel drive diesel was roundly applauded, despite the fact that it was only available in manual mode. However, Mitsubishi have now tweaked things to offer more bang for the buck in their ASX diesel range, which means it’s undergone a few upgrades including an automatic transmission.
There’s also been a substantial upgrading of the power plant, drive train enhancement plus some very useful interior changes. Significantly, there have been improvements in feature levels (not they were really lacking at all) plus price reductions across both diesel models.
There’s enough room under the shapely ASX bonnet (with its pocket-rocket Evo style grille) for the 2.2L four-cylinder common rail turbo diesel engine, reportedly from the Outlander. Figures of 110KW of power, 360Nm of torque are encouraging, particularly its 60 Newton metres in delivery. Moreover, the new ASX produces a very smooth and seamlessly six speed auto, taking the place of the previous 1.8L diesel engine’s CVT auto gearing.
During the road test I found the new six-speed box to be a very competent unit. Left to its own designs, gear changes are virtually imperceptible. Moving the console-mounted selector to the right allows the driver to change up or down manually, but for the more sports-minded there’s also a column-mounted set of paddles to play with.
Confesssion time: Being a closet petrol head on a trip over Cunninghams Gap I admit I used the paddle selector system to keep the very willing engine in its sweet spot. The ASX diesel, with a team of four aboard, hummed easily up and over the range.
A central console switch can move the ASX diesel AWD from basic (front) 2WD to part time 4WD, which sees all four wheels providing traction if and when slippage is detected. Another engagement of the console switch brings in the LOCK mode, which simply locks all four wheels in 50/50 drive mode. This latter drive system is ideal for light beach work, bush trails and other uneven surfaces, which the ASX, given its quite reasonable ground clearance, can take in its stride with aplomb.
Engaging 4WD is possible for normal speed limits, something not always the case with this style of SUV.
Two auto diesels are available, the standard ASX Direct Injection Diesel and the more upmarket Aspire DiD. Both models now have their excellent reversing cameras within the 15.5cm touch screen of the main function and radio module, which in the Aspire also incorporates a very easy to use and intuitive Sat/Nav system.
The Aspire’s interior styling is modern enough but seemed to have a fair bit of hard plastic about the dash and door linings. However, there’s leather on seats, steering wheel and other trim panels. Heated front seats are the norm, the driver’s having electric adjustment and a great lumbar support to boot.
Dials and controls across the dash are simple to identify and use; leaning more towards practicality than luxury. The Aspire does come with a panoramic sunroof and 17” wheels, both features being a step up from the standard model.
Bluetooth audio and phone integration is naturally standard as is iPod compatibility and push button start/stop. I liked the reach and rake adjustability of the leather trimmed steering wheel.
Storage nooks within the ASX are mainly concentrated in the front seating area, although there are a few available for rear seat travellers.
You will be surprised by the AXS’s roominess. Even with a 180cm adult seated in the front seat, there’s still plenty of room for another adult to sit comfortably behind without feeling cramped. Rear cargo capacity stretches from 416L with rear seat up to 1158L with seats down. Rear seats offer a 60/40 split as well.
The ASX is a pleasure to drive, with its 2.2L diesel chattering away at idle, levelling out in noise as the vehicle moves off. Seating is high with great all round visibility adding to the feeling of being in a much larger vehicle.
There’s ample power to spare from the diesel engine and although just a tad bothered by turbo lag on take off, once the turbo kicks in the compact SUV can really cover some ground.
Overtaking is easy, traffic is no problem even with four adults aboard and the ride is quiet enough on bitumen, a tad noisy on rough or gravel surfaces. Comfort levels are high. Mitsubishi have put a lot of work into suspension and wheel travel and it shows.
Fuel consumption was brilliant with the ASX diesel returning 6.4L per 100km on highway runs, with 7.2L/100km around town. Braked trailers up to 1300kg may be towed, which will see quite a few alloy craft on the tow bar. Warranty and servicing is highly attractive too. Mitsubishi offer a five-year 130,000km warranty plus capped price servicing for three years or 60,000km as well as a five year roadside assist package.
Mitsubishi are right on the money with their auto diesel ASX. It drives easily, won’t run out of grunt with five adults aboard and has a raft of really high value features to please the discerning owner. The Aspire model costs a little more but has the appointments to warrant the extra outlay. The ASX diesel offers stiff competition within its market segment.
ASX diesel pricing is needle sharp these days too. The new 2.2 diesel base model auto can leave the showroom for a modest $31,990 while the all bells and whistles Aspire comes home for $36,490.Reads: 2815