Tuesday, 29 April 2014

REVIEW - Mitsubishi ASX Automatic

Now a review of a Mitsubishi ASX is not uncommon here at Simply Motor. In fact, this will be the third time it has graced my driveway with its presence. I do rather like how it just gets on with things. No need for silly adverts of a car being paintballed around a town- you know which one I mean- because the ASX doesn’t need to shout about itself. Drive one and you’ll realise what I mean; it’s just good. Well apparently it lacked grunt, and an automatic gearbox. So Mitsubishi have fitted it with the 2.2-litre engine and automatic gearbox from the Outlander. So what difference would it make? How would it transform the car that I hold so dearly? Read on to find out…

Looks – 8/10

Having already reviewed the face-lifted ASX, there’s nothing new to me here. The ASX is nicely styled, with the newer front end adding a fresh touch to a design which still looks good. The 17” wheels are nicely proportioned, and the privacy glass gives a premium edge to the appearance. Other than that the style of the ASX is as it was upon release, but this is fine by me. The ASX looks well sat on the driveway, and looks like a crossover should; the harmony of rugged toughness and urban style works really well here.

The inside lets the ASX down a bit, purely because there is little in the way of contrast. The whole cabin seems to be dark. No silver trim to break up the leather and plastics. It’s a shame because the finish inside the Mitsubishi is rather nice indeed. Another issue for me is the media screen. It does everything well- there’s no doubt about that- but it’s just an aftermarket unit, which sits on its own in the dashboard. It looks like someone got carried away in Halfords, and would look much better if Mitsubishi used an integrated unit like they do in the Outlander.

Handling/Performance – 7/10

I had complaints about the 1.8-litre diesel engine in my previous ASX test car. 115PS was not enough for a car this size, and forward momentum was lacking somewhat. And the 2.2-litre unit from the Outlander suffers in a similar way too. It produces 147PS and 360Nm of torque. And because of the automatic gearbox this ASX is actually slower than the 1.8 manual. It takes 10.8 seconds to go from 0-62mph and will reach a top speed of 118mph. This would have resulted in a lower score than the manual, but for how that power is delivered. The auto box is smooth and uses the torque available to the best of its ability. It was relaxing to drive and didn’t experience the same sense of ‘lag’ that baffled me with the manual. I definitely found it more pleasant behind the wheel, but for a lack of power when you kick down. From a 2.2-litre engine I would expect nearer to 200PS these days, and this would aid the vast amount of torque available. But maybe I expect too much.

The handling of the ASX is unusual, owing to some rather soft suspension. There’s a significant amount of lean in the corners, and the steering isn’t all too direct. Thankfully, the auto model encouraged me to cruise along in a relaxed state of mind, and so I rarely found an urge to chuck the ASX round a country road. However, the soft suspension mean the ASX is extremely comfortable. And to me that’s more important. You don’t buy an ASX to tear-arse round; you want it to fit the kids in and be comfortable enough that they opt not to vomit in the back. And I would go so far as to say the ASX is comfortable enough to allow them to sleep, and that makes every journey more relaxing.

Economy – 7/10

The other downside to having a bigger engine and automatic gearbox come at the fuel pumps. And for me this is one of the biggest pitfalls as well, because economy is one of the reasons I fell in love with the ASX. The manual claims combined fuel consumption of 54.3mpg which I managed to beat on a longer journey. The big auto claims 48.7mpg on the combined cycle, but I struggled to achieve this in the real world. And the CO2 emissions hit 153g/km (versus 136g/km on the 1.8-litre manual) which pushes road tax up to £175 for the year. Considering this is a large family car it’s not the end of the world, but then again unless you’re convinced you want an auto then you have to consider whether the extra expense is worth it.

Practicality – 10/10

One thing I can be certain of is that the ASX is still a vastly practical car. By having the larger engine the ASX would make a much more suitable tow car, and would find this task much easier. The car has a large boot, and sizeable cabin for all passengers. It has a great driving position and being a bit higher up allows for great visibility on the road. And one of the ASX’s party pieces is that it looks bigger than it actually is, such that parking and the likes are a breeze. I like the technology on offer too. Forgetting its flaws as a unit, the Kenwood stereo has good iPod control, a satellite navigation, and hands-free telephone. The ASX gets keyless and cruise control too, so to live with the ASX is a great car for everyone.

Fun – 6/10

As much as I like the ASX, it doesn’t appeal to me as a driver. It never really put a smile on my face, and that’s a shame because it is brilliant. When I tested the ASX Black first time around, that had an identity. It made you smile whenever someone looked puzzled as you drove past in a ‘pimped-out' crossover. But without that identity the ASX just doesn’t fill you with joy. There’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s a great family car, but these days there are a lot of great family cars. In order to set itself apart a car must now go above and beyond and offer drivers that little bit extra. With the few niggles I found this just isn’t the case with the ASX.

Concluding Remarks

I like the ASX and everything it offers as a family car. However, the new 2.2-litre engine and automatic gearbox don’t really add anything into the mixture. It still feels slightly underpowered, and the suspension is a bit too soft to enable pleasant cornering ability. The damage to the economy figures would be enough to put me off having this variant. That being said, there’s a good 4WD system available and elements of Mitusbishi’s tough off-roading ability. The extra torque would be useful when the going gets tough, or when towing, and having the auto box does make the drive more relaxing. My ASX test car came in at £23,899 which isn’t all that bad in this sector. But at £22,499 the 1.8 still offers more value for money in my eyes. For more information pop into a dealership or visit the Mitsubishi website. The ASX automatic; solving a problem that never existed.

Total Score - 38/40

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