Saturday, 27 July 2013

REVIEW - Mitsubishi ASX 4 [Facelift]

The Mitsubishi ASX is a crossover which has been around since 2010. For this year, it has undergone a bit of a cosmetic update, and has come out the other side looking young and well. I decided to give one a test. Last year I reviewed the Black Edition ASX and found it very good. How would a 4WD model stack up to this, and would it have the same street cred? Read on to find out...

Looks - 8/10

I do quite like how the ASX is styled. It manages to look a lot bigger than it actually is. The new front end looks more imposing, yet maintains the common Mitsubishi mouth. You get the same 17" wheels as before, and the rest of the car looks very much similar. That isn't a bad thing though, because the styling was never an issue. Mitsubishi have done enough to revitalise the ASX without a complete overhaul. It looks rugged and tough, and considering this was the 4WD version, that was rather appropriate.

Moving on to the inside and things are a bit less impressive. There's a lot of black featured, and this makes the interior a bit dark and depressing at times. The materials are all nice though, with some soft-touch plastics and leather featured as well. Being the ASX 4 it had full leather, but being in black this didn't help the darkness situation. The other gripe I had with the ASX was the stereo. It may well be an all-singing, all-dancing Kenwood unit, but it just looks a bit out of place. It doesn't feel integrated into the cabin and I just didn't like how it looked. The rest of the dash and dials are fine bar the seat heaters- the operation of which requires the deftest of fingers.

Handling/Performance - 7/10

In my test car I went for the 1.8-litre diesel with 4WD. There is a 1.6-litre petrol available, but I would suggest the diesel will suit more buyers. Whether or not they will make use of the 4WD is up to the individual, but being able to run in 2WD most of the time means you can benefit from better economy most of the time, but have the extra traction should you need it in winter.

From this turbocharged diesel lump you can expect to be offered 115PS and 300Nm of torque. That's very torquey, but lacks the power for the size of car. The ASX gets from 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds and has a top speed of 115mph. To drive the ASX feels like it accelerates faster than this, but that's down mostly to some quite serious lag. It appears to be turbo lag, but one would imagine a 1.8-litre with 115PS would not have such a sizeable turbo. So I am unsure what it is. But it is noticeable, and you have to plan in advance for any forward surges. With normal driving the ASX is pleasant. It cruises well- and is very quiet- at motorway speeds, and this shows that Mitsubishi are concentrating on making engines refined and civilised.

The handling is another reason the ASX feels fast; oddly enough. The soft suspension means that when the engine finally decides to move you forwards, the front end lifts to what feels like 45 degrees. Similarly when braking you find yourself looking at the the floor through the windscreen. I admit I am exaggerating slightly, but under heavier braking you really do notice this softness in the suspension. That translates into roll through the corners, and the ASX never feels natural if you try and corner briskly. However the up side is that it is remarkably comfortable, and on a long drive it really is a pleasure. At the end of the day, if you want to go fast round corners, buy a sports car. The ASX never claims to be this, so don't expect it to be and you'll find it drives very well. There is also the added bonus of 4WD which can be turned on or off, and gives you peace of mind should conditions get tricky.

Economy - 9/10

Where the ASX diesel impresses is in the economy department. It can offer you 54.3mpg on a combined cycle, and emits 136g/km of CO2. That puts the ASX in VED band E, with road tax £125 for the year (and the same in the first year too). For a sizable family car the road tax is acceptable, and the fuel consumption is impressive. What's more, the figures are achievable too. On a decent run I saw 55mpg, and even over shorter, more hasty journeys I achieved nearly 50mpg. That's great, but I can't help it could be better if it had start-stop technology. The previous model did, and I found it worked rather well. At the very least it helps bring CO2 emissions down. It is a technology that many people are not keen on, and so I can see Mitsubishi's reasoning behind it.

Practicality - 10/10

You can definitely credit the ASX for being a practical family car. The cabin is vast, and when you size this car up it actually isn't that big. It will fit in your garage and has no problem in parking spaces. Yet Mitsubishi have done wonders with the space and 5 adults can fit in it comfortably. The boot is plenty big enough for whatever you'd like to throw in it, and the ASX would make a great towcar for those of you who look for that. To live with the ASX is easy. There's plenty of technology that makes day-to-day life more enjoyable, such as keyless entry, cruise control, satellite navigation and auto-folding mirrors. You'll be glad of the space, particularly if you have children, whilst still having a car that's cheap to run
and isn't the size of a manor house.

Fun - 6/10

I shall admit to being left wanting more from the ASX in terms of fun. Yes it has the toys- in particularly the ASX 4 with the 4WD is fully loaded- but it just doesn't have that extra something. The Black Edition had street cred, and the looks you got made it fun to drive. In this, nobody will even notice you driving past, and a nondescript existence doesn't make you want to get out and drive. I do accept however that for a family the ASX will offer a car that will keep the kids comfortable and therefore (hopefully) quiet, and that is invaluable. But I'm afraid it just didn't do it for me. I'd have one, but always wish I'd bought something more interesting.

Concluding Remarks

Overall then, you cannot deny that the ASX is a good car. It is efficient, and makes a great long-distance cruiser. It will suit families who need a bit more space than your average hatchback, but don't want to run a full-sized 4x4. Anyone in a rural location will appreciate the 4WD system, and the level of standard equipment is impressive. It will never fill you with an urge to go out for a drive, but it does what it does extremely well.

Total Score - 40/50

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