Mitsubishi ASX review
The Mitsubishi ASX is a decent value crossover, but lags behind the class leaders for efficiency, performance and quality
The Mitsubishi ASX was part of the first wave of crossovers that appeared hot on the heels of the Nissan Qashqai, and hit showrooms in 2010. There was an update in 2015 with new bumpers and wheelarch styling, while the range was revised with new trim names.
With looks inspired by the Evo X performance saloon, the Mitsubishi ASX overall shape is pure compact crossover. It has decent space and is well equipped, too, but the update hasn't helped it to compete with class front-runners such as the Nissan Qashqai and Mazda CX-5. The recent update also added a new 1.6-litre diesel, but while it's more efficient than the 1.8 it replaced, it's noisy and not as clean as rival powerplants.
The revised ASX range features three trim levels: ZC, ZC-M and ZC-H. There are three engine choices on offer, too. The ZC only comes with a 1.6-litre petrol, while the ZC-M can be had with 1.6 petrol or 1.6 diesel power. At the top of the range, the ZC-H features four-wheel drive and only comes as a diesel. If you add an automatic gearbox, then you get the 2.2-litre diesel from the Outlander in place of the smaller 1.6.
Our choice: ASX 1.6 DI-D ZC-M
Engines, performance and drive
As part of the ASX's facelift in 2015, Mitsubishi turned to PSA Peugeot-Citroen for a new diesel engine that complies with Euro 6 emissions regulations. But while the French know how to build a punchy and efficient diesel, Mitsubishi failed to add enough sound deadening to make the engine sufficiently refined in the ASX. It suffers from a lot of engine noise, especially when accelerating, and under load the engine note is extremely gruff and sends unpleasant resonances through the cabin.
Still, at least the ASX is quick. The 1.6-litre diesel's 112bhp power output is modest, while a 270Nm torque figure is respectable. In testing, we managed a 0-60mph time of 10.5 seconds which was five-tenths faster than Mitsubishi’s claimed 0-62mph time.
The engine runs out of steam at higher revs, which is a pity, because the gearbox has a vague shift, while the engine holds 2,200rpm at the motorway limit, so isn't particularly refined when cruising.
In corners, the Mitsubishi is reasonable, with good grip and decent chassis control, but vague steering limits the fun. Plus, the stiff suspension results in a firm and inconsistent ride. Whether in town or on the motorway, the ASX bounces from one bump to the next, with very poor body control seeing the car lurch in every direction. At least the ASX performed well under braking, although the soft pedal did need a decent shove to slow the car down.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
In mid-spec ZC-M diesel trim, the ASX represents reasonable value. You can only get sat-nav on the higher spec ZC-H model, but even the mid-spec car does get extras like heated seats and rear parking sensors as standard. However, in testing, the latter only worked when objects were already in close proximity, which ws rather disconcerting.
We managed 44.6mpg economy on test, while Mitsubishi quotes a combined consumption figure of 61.4mpg. That's not great when compared to rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Mazda CX-3, though. On the plus side, the ASX has a 60-litre fuel tank, so you can expect a range of over 580 miles between fills. Emissions of 119g/km are far better than the older 1.8 diesel, but again, some rivals are cleaner still, so tax costs for business and private buyers for the ASX will be costlier. At least Mitsubishi’s £675 three-year service plan is reasonable.
Interior, design and technology
The Mitsubishi ASX looks like a traditional crossover. Its upright styling apes that of an SUV, and there are plenty of off-road styling cues. This mid-life makeover is pretty subtle, as the bluff front end is mostly unchanged, with a large trapezoidal grille inspired by the Evo X performance car. The headlights are the same, too, but lower down, there’s a new bumper design with less black plastic and rakish foglamp housings featuring LED daytime running lights.
Further back, plastic wheelarch trims have been added, while the front wings are adorned by fake chrome air vents, which look small and cheap. The roof features a ribbed design, and the back bumper has been restyled, yet the small glass area and upright rear are unchanged. The boxy shape means the ASX looks a bit dated, but at least the paint finish is good. The door handles feel flimsy and the doors themselves are light and tinny when you open and close them, though.
Unfortunately, matters fail to improve when you climb inside. The dashboard gets a makeover that’s just as subtle as the exterior’s, with the biggest change being a redesigned centre console. It gains piano-black plastic and the stereo’s display has been updated, but it’s a dated dot-matrix screen that looks old and is fiddly to navigate around. There’s now a colour trip computer set between the dials, too, yet this Outlander-sourced display has blocky graphics.
Even more disappointing is the quality of the materials in the cabin. As the interior is largely unchanged, that means lots of hard plastics are used, while oddities such as the shallow trays ahead and behind the gearlever have been carried over. Our test car suffered from rattles from behind the dash and around the steering column, and they were made worse by vibrations coming from the engine.
Overall, the Mitsubishi is functional, but rather uninspiring, and while the dashboard rattles came as a surprise, the ASX still feels like it’s a car that will take plenty of abuse in its stride.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
With a 416-litre boot, the Mitsubishi ASX was once a decent performer for boot space, but today larger rivals such as the latest Nissan Qashqai have it beaten for boot space. However, the ASX is larger than the similarly priced Mazda CX-3, and its upright design means there’s more boot space with the seats up. The Mitsubishi offers 416 litres compared to the Mazda’s 350 litres, but the floor area is smaller, and the wheelarches intrude on the ASX's boot space. There are no straps or netting to secure smaller items, either.
The rear bench can be split and also incorporates a ski hatch, but the back seats are fiddly to fold, and the ASX’s 1,193-litre maximum boot capacity is 67 litres behind the CX-3’s. That reveals another problem with the Mitsubishi: it’s not very roomy in the rear. Legroom is as tight as the Mazda’s and there is more headroom, but there are no door bins in the back for storage. You sit higher in the ASX than you do in the CX-3, yet the squashy seats lack support.
Reliability and Safety
The Mitsubishi ASX is loaded with safety kit, including stability control, traction control, Isofix child seat mounting points, brake assist, a passenger airbag deactivation switch and a complement of seven airbags, including one for the driver’s knees. It fared well in Euro NCAP tests, and emerged with five stars, although that was in 2011, and the test has been made a lot tougher in recent years, so the ASX can't be directly compared to newer rivals.
Traditionally the Mitsubishi brand has always done well in the annual Driver Power survey, and its relatively small dealer network finished 18th in our Driver Power 2015 dealer survey. The ASX itself sells in too few numbers to have made the top 200 in our satisfaction poll, but Mitsubishi does offer a five-year warranty to give buyers added peace of mind.