If you look at the cut-throat crossover segment in which the Mitsubishi ASX vigorously combats in, it has somehow fallen off the radar – even as a solid product at its competitive price level.
As more and more marques jostle market share in the compact crossover fold, the Mitsubishi ASX still makes for a product worthy of recommendation and, if we’re honest, the continuous improvements since 2011 have ensured that it retains its fresh stance. Unfortunately, though, cosmetics mightn’t be enough.
Not to coincide with my statement above but yes there is a new range-opening ES variant that brings with it a revitalised exterior design that comes courtesy of LED lighting, a high-mounted stop lamp and sensible alloy wheels.
Like the rest of the recently refreshed ASX range, the ES features a new front fascia that includes a new bonnet, reworked radiator grille and bumper. The rear is fitted with redesigned light clusters as well as a new bumper.
Sadly, the handsomeness of the exterior isn’t carried over to the inside as many of you would’ve hoped and things start to get a tad disappointing. For example, the interior is awash with hard plastic material and while the Sony touchscreen infotainment system isn’t exactly a chore to navigate, it feels too aftermarket due to a lack of manufacturer-specifc features when using Apple CarPlay.
On the plus side, the interior is solidly put together with everything placed where it should be. If there is one front on which we feel Mitsubishi is lacking, it definitely has to be the aging interior design.
As for modern technology, the ASX ES doesn’t exactly pack lavish equipment. Well, it is the entry-level model but we also believe its age is a contributing factor. At least you get USB and accessory sockets, Bluetooth connectivity with hands-free voice control and cruise control. Not all bad.
For the most part, the Mitsubishi ASX goes about its business on the road without breaking a sweat but there are definite quirks that I feel the brand can improve on. Factors such as wind noise and incessant rattling over ill-maintained roads detract from the overall driving experience.
"there are definite quirks that I feel the brand can improve on"
The 110 kW and 197 Nm naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre engine wielded to a 5-speed manual box has also showcased itself as a useful arrangement but a 6-speed manual transmission and perhaps a turbocharged unit would be ideal since competitors such as the Suzuki Vitara, Kia Seltos and Mahindra XUV300 offer both force-fed powerplants and 6-speed manual transmissions.
Driving the ASX in and around town, it cruises pleasingly well even when packed with five passengers thanks to still-decent power and a more than adequate for the job suspension setup. Still, the engine needs to be worked hard past the 4,000 r/min mark before overtaking moving traffic. On the open road, the ASX gets down to business with no hassles yet, as mentioned, there is a substantial amount of wind noise penetrating the cabin at cruising speeds which is far from ideal.
Even though competitors offer their products for negligibly more, Mitsubishi asks R369,995 for its range-opening ASX ES and if you aren’t a fan of the 5-speed manual, a CVT variant costs around R19,000 more. We recommend sticking with the manual simply because of the CVT gearbox’s reputation to noisily whine when asked to perform simple gear selecting duties.
During our week with the Mitsubishi ASX, it recorded an average fuel consumption of 7.9l/100 km. While arguably better than the CVT, the lack of a sixth gear and the absence of a turbocharger at reef altitude certainly contributed to the higher-than-expected fuel consumption figures.
The ASX is covered by the brand’s three-year/100,000 km manufacturer warranty, a three-year/60,000 km service plan and three-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance. Service intervals are pegged at 15,000 km or once a year.
In the case of the Mitsubishi ASX ES, many contenders have surpassed the product and are far ahead with what they offer which makes it tricky for us to highly rate the ASX. The biggest letdown is the lack of a 6-speed manual transmission, diesel option, a turbocharged powerplant as well as modern technology and safety systems which the aforementioned rivals offer happily within their ranges.
It might not be the best crossover due to the irks cited earlier but its pricing remains inviting and it should offer stellar reliability for years to come.