It may have started out life as an MPV when its progenitor was first produced between 1991 and 2001, today the ASX is a compact crossover. The ASX is designed to bridge the gap between off-roaders and cars with the added benefit of offering more space and practicality and that lofty driving position compact SUV’s give. There is also a much more pertinent reason why the ASX exists at all. The compact crossover market is booming and the smart corporate executives always follow the money trail.
Over the years the ASX has received a number of revisions from different naming conventions to minor external, internal styling and trim updates. With three trim levels on offer prices for the ASX (without optional extras) start at a reasonable £15k for the entry level ZC models and rise up to just over £24k for the top level ZC-H. Entry level models are 2WD only while top end models get 4WD.
Mitsubishi have now made way for a low emission 1.6-litre turbodiesel unit and the have retained the services of the venerable 2.2-litre turbodiesel. Also rounding off the choice of engines is a 1.6-litre petrol which is only available in entry level trim and 2WD.
The top spec ZC-h features Mitsubishi’s four-wheel drive system but the latter is only combined with the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel model but they do at least allow you the option of selecting either a 6-speed manual or automatic gearbox.
For 2015-2016 the ASX receives a few external styling updates such as new front and rear bumpers and more manly looking wheel-arches. The ASX’s styling has always looked efficient, some would dare to venture smart. On the inside the interior may be lacking in design flair but it is functional and purposefully well built. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Overall the interior is clutter free and spacious for front and rear occupants and the use of materials is a mix of hard and the odd soft touch surfaces. It’s fair to say that most of the competition has moved up the ladder in terms of offering better interior refinement but at least the ASX does have piano black trim finishes to boast about.
However Mitsubishi make up for it in the spec sheet the ZH-C model on test came fitted with a lot of features including snazzy looking 18-inch alloys as standard, Xenon Super wide range HID headlamps – LED Daytime Running Lights – Climate control air conditioning – Keyless entry & push start button – Heated front seats – Parking sensors – Cruise control – Automatic rain and dusk sensors – DAB radio – Six speakers – Chrome front grille and fog lamp surround – Electric, heated door mirrors with side turn lights – Auto dimming rear view mirror. But no Sat-nav.
Try getting this sort of spec in a mid-range Mini Countryman at ASX prices, it wouldn’t happen.
Standard kit aside the ASX on test now uses a Peugeot sourced 1.6-litre diesel engine which emits 112bhp and 270nm of torque. Just about enough to give a modest buzz behind the wheel. However in truth the ASX isn’t about straightline performance.
Yes at the top end of the engine revs the ASX will struggle to breath at its very best, it’s only got 112bhp so performance wise that’s not too surprising. But the 270Nm of torque means the ASX may have an outside chance of winning the Scottish Tow Car of The Year Award. That’s an award… from Scotlandshire.
However most people who buy an ASX will probably like the most important performance feature of them all, the 52mpg return on a combined economy cycle. Yes I really did just say that, combined economy cycle.
So performance wise the ASX isn’t going to win any medals, however road manners are OK for the most part. Through the corners the ASX feels secure and grips well and has progressive front to rear balance. It doesn’t ride too badly either.
This is no sports crossover so the steering isn’t going relay a magical revelation of dynamism but it gets the job done and really I wouldn’t want an overly sharp, artificial feel to the steering setup especially in a compact crossover.
You may have heard some auto reviews complain about too much body-roll. Any tall riding vehicle will suffer bodyroll if driven too hard and for the most part motoring hacks overdrive cars whereas in the real world actual consumers don’t. So in the real world handling and ride are good, it could even verge on being quite good fun.
And what consumers also value, aside from cubbie holes, head room, knee room, shoulders knees and toes, is rear boot space. Without going into to extra dimensional details it’s bigger than the Mazda CX-3, seats up seats down. Mini Countryman is well and truly beaten.
All said and done the ASX is in danger of becoming overlooked as the competition from the likes of Mazda, Mini, Peugeot and Nissan begins to hot up. There are better looking alternatives, that offer better interior refinement.
The ASX is practical for its size, it’s part workman like in many ways, but overall it’s a good drive indeed it’s generally good at what it does but for some that may not be enough however there’s still enough in the old dog yet and keen pricing and good levels of equipment also help.