All-new soft-roader has sights set on Nissan’s popular Qashqai
Mitsubishi describes the ASX as a ‘game changer’. And for the firm, it’s a brave step into a hotly contested market which already features some top talent. The ASX acquits itself well by offering lots of interior space, a competitive price and some engineering innovations. But when it launches in the UK this summer, the abilities of rivals such as the Skoda Yeti, Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008 may mean the Mitsubishi remains an interesting, but niche choice.
After years of making pick-ups and high-performance Evos, Mitsubishi has finally gone mainstream. The ASX crossover is designed to tempt families from their Nissan Qashqais and capitalise on the growing market for junior SUVs. But can the soft-roader stand out in an increasingly crowded sector?
The ASX shares the same platform as the larger Outlander, and features the same wheelbase to offer decent interior space. Up front, the driving position is set high and offers an SUV-like view of the road.
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Mitsubishi ASX
Visibility is good and there’s plenty of storage. Dashboard design and quality are a step up from the firm’s previous offerings, too.
In the rear, space is plentiful. Adults will have no trouble getting comfortable on longer journeys, and an optional panoramic roof gives a light and airy feel. The 416-litre boot is ample, even with the subwoofer for the Rockford Fosgate stereo installed.
The ASX also gets the familiar nose first seen on the Evo X, with a pronounced grille outlined in chrome and swept-back headlights. Because the wheelbase is the same as the Outlander’s, the front and rear overhangs are very short.
The styling is handsome if a little derivative, with plenty of Qashqai-inspired bulges around the arches and bonnet, and a rear that is similar to BMW’s X1.
Efficiency is key, with all models getting stop-start to reduce fuel consumption, as well as electric power-steering. Our car came with the firm’s new 1.8-litre diesel engine, which Mitsubishi claims is the first of this size to feature variable valve timing. This means the compression ratio can be set low, which allows the engine to operate quietly at all speeds, although the high-pitched whistle of the turbo is audible.
The stop-start system works intuitively, although it does take longer for the engine to stop and restart than rival systems.
Meanwhile, the electric power- steering is springy but direct, allowing you to position the car with confidence. Body roll is quite pronounced, but the pay-off for the soft set-up is a superb ride, even on bumpy road surfaces.
Although most soft-roaders never leave tarmac, the ASX can be ordered with four-wheel drive. But the two-wheel-drive version we tried didn’t lack traction.
Rival: Nissan Qashqai It’s more expensive than the ASX, particularly if you figure in the Mitsubishi’s extra standard kit. But the recently revised Qashqai looks great, offers impressive refinement and a spacious, well built interior. Nissan pioneered the crossover SUV, so Mitsubishi will have its work cut out to beat the popular Qashqai.