New Mitsubishi ASX 2019 review
Can another round of updates help the decade-old Mitsubishi ASX keep pace with the compact SUV competition?
Despite an extensive facelift, a new engine and extra kit, the Mitsubishi ASX is feeling its age. The small SUV segment has exploded in the past 10 years, and rivals better it in near enough every area – making it tough to recommend. If you’re after a small crossover with good road manners, lots of kit and space for the family, there’s better value to be had elsewhere.
Most cars benefit from just one major facelift during their seven or eight-year lifespan. The Mitsubishi ASX, however, has recently undergone its second comprehensive update – just as it approaches its 10th birthday.
Mitsubishi, in fairness, is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Having joined the Renault-Nissan alliance in 2017, the firm is in the process of developing a small car platform that will, in time, support a trio of brand-new B-segment SUVs. For now, the manufacturer must make do – hence the most recent round of tweaks for its ASX crossover.
The visual changes focus around the front end, which is completely new from the windscreen forward. It has been wholly redesigned to bring it in line with the look of the forthcoming L200 pick-up, with a sleeker clamshell bonnet and bold front grille. The rear is more familiar, albeit with new LED tail-lights and a sharper bumper design.
Under the skin, Mitsubishi has fitted a new 2.0-litre normally aspirated petrol engine, which replaces the old 1.6-litre unit. With 148bhp, it is 30 per cent more powerful, while torque is up 27 per cent, too. After a short European hiatus, you can now fit your ASX with part-time all-wheel drive – as well as a CVT automatic gearbox.
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But no amount of added shove can hide the fact this car is almost a decade old. It feels far less sophisticated than a Hyundai Kona or Mazda CX-3 on the road, and markedly more lethargic than a turbocharged Suzuki Vitara. The ride is choppy at best, and the steering devoid of feel.
Despite that new engine, you’ll need to work the ASX pretty hard to extract any kind of notable performance. Overtaking is a chore no matter which transmission you choose, though at least with the CVT you don’t have to row through the gears to find enough punch to pass a tardy tractor. Wind noise from around the door mirrors is intrusive at motorway speeds and there’s a constant rumble from the tyres over rougher roads.
At least the interior feels built to last. The doors don’t shut with the thud you’ll find on a VW or SEAT, but while there are cheaper feeling materials lower down in the cabin, there are some fairly squishy plastics on the dash and doors. Space in the back will be fine for kids and adults to sit comfortably enough on shorter runs.
A new eight-inch touchscreen dominates proceedings up front, through which you can operate both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Top-spec cars get a built-in TomTom sat-nav, but that’s surplus to requirements if you’ve got an up-to-date smartphone.
Mitsubishi says prices should start at “less than £21,000” when the car goes on sale in September – for which you’ll get a front-wheel drive ASX Design with a five-speed manual gearbox. Standard kit includes 18-inch alloy wheels, full-LED lights, heated front seats, cruise control, climate control and a reversing camera. In fact, there’s plenty to like about the ASX’s most lowly trim, comparing favourably with rivals in this department.
Dynamic, which is expected to command a premium of around £3k, adds a panoramic roof, leather seats, extra chrome trim and safety kit including blind spot warning, lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert, as well as the aforementioned sat-nav system.
Add all-wheel drive and the auto box (only available on the flagship Dynamic trim) and you’re looking at around £26,500 – around £1,000 more than a fully-loaded Vitara.
Specifying your ASX as such will likely affect running costs, too. Mitsubishi hasn’t released any provisional data for the single engine choice, but 4x4 models will inevitably chew through more fuel. That said, we wouldn’t expect more than 35mpg – even from a manual model.