Car reviews - Mitsubishi - ASX
Strong spec levels, easy driving characteristics, snappy infotainment system, CVT does good job of maximising modest power output
Room for improvement
Plenty of hard cabin plastics, some tyre roar from 18-inch wheels, ageing platform, average engine performance
Mitsubishi adds value to best-selling ASX small SUV line-up with ES range-opener
5 Sep 2018
THE Mitsubishi ASX small SUV has been a strong value proposition in its segment for years, evidenced by its standing as the best-selling small SUV in Australia.
That value proposition is set to get stronger with the arrival of the ES variant, which lowers the point of entry to $23,490 plus on-road costs for the five-speed manual, increasing to $25,490 when equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Will the new entry-level ES help the ASX retain its crown as Australia’s most popular small SUV?
Mitsubishi has introduced a more affordable ASX variant to combat the loss of the Lancer small car, of which stock is set to dry up by the end of the year. The car-maker predicts Lancer buyers will move up to the ASX, and in order to make the jump more seamless, the ES has been created to reduce the gap in pricing.
The ASX is used primarily as a city car, and after a morning driving it around Melbourne, the urban environment does seem the best suited to Mitsubishi’s smallest SUV.
The small steering wheel fits comfortably in the hands and steering feel is light and breezy, making for worry-free driving around town.
Handling is hardly sporty, but the ASX is not designed for that, and what it is designed for it does well. Its compact dimensions and small overhangs help contribute to the easy city driving feel.
Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels are generally commendable for a car of its price point, and there were no apparent rattles or anything to suggest a tinny build quality. The standard 18-inch wheels – large for a car of its size – did make for some intrusive tyre roar, particularly at high speeds and on poor road surfaces, but the fact they are offered as standard is impressive.
The 18-inch hoops add to the snappy exterior style, which is also helped by the sporty rear diffuser and trimmings of chrome on the front grille.
Like the rest of the trimmed-down ASX range, the ES employs a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine developing 110kW of power and 192Nm of torque, driving the front wheels via either a five-speed manual gearbox or CVT.
We only sampled the CVT version – which will be a far more popular pick than the manual – and despite a preference for traditional automatics to CVTs, it works well in the ASX to make the most of the engine’s modest power output.
Acceleration is zippy straight off the line, but getting up to highway speeds is less sprightly – again another reason why it is best suited to a city driving.
On our drive – a mix of urban, highway and back roads – we recorded a fuel economy figure of 8.0 litres per 100km, only slightly up on the official combined figure of 7.6L/100km.
The ES’ status as a base variant is clear in the cabin, with generous trimmings of hard, black plastics, but the generous levels of specification lift the ES beyond just a budget offering.
The 7.0-inch colour touchscreen system is snappy and responsive and works well when paired to Apple CarPlay, as it was during our drive.
Its interface is easy to navigate, and even comes with DAB+ digital radio – a feature many manufacturers do not offer, such as Volkswagen which does not even offer it as standard on its top-spec Arteon liftback sedan.
Two frontal USB ports are handy, while steering wheel-mounted controls add convenience. The monochrome instrument cluster display, cloth seats and basic air-conditioning cluster feel a tad cheap, but you cannot fault them for usability.
Front occupants won’t struggle for leg or headroom, however rear legroom can be a bit tight for adult passengers.
The ASX ES is far from a segment leader – it does not have many aspects that make it stand out against its rivals, but you could argue that it doesn’t need to.
It is a great value offering for those with their hip pocket front of mind, and for that it does a great job. The proof is in the pudding – no other small SUV has sold as many units this year than the ASX, so it is clearly doing something right.
In a segment that is focused on value, few do it better than the ASX ES.
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