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Images show the Kingfisher Blue Mitsubishi ASX Aspire (petrol/auto) which we drove from Sydney to Melbourne via Hume Highway and return via the Snowy Mountains Highway through Thredbo and onto Canberra.

Mitsubishi ASX road test

by Mark Walker

28th March, 2011

Home > Road Tests > Mitsubishi

The launch of the all-new Mitsubishi ASX compact cross-over into Australia was a milestone for the Japanese brand. The new model represents Mitsubishi's first foray into the compact SUV/cross-over segment providing a smaller, cheaper alternative to its successful Outlander model.

The Mitsubishi ASX is available in three variants ... ASX, ASX AWD and ASX Aspire. As with the Outlander, the ASX is available in both two-wheel drive (2WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD) configurations. The entry level ASX is 2WD and only available with a 2-litre petrol engine (manual or auto). The ASX AWD is an all-wheel drive (as the name suggests) and available with a choice of diesel/manual or petrol/auto powertrains. The range-topping Aspire is solely AWD and is, likewise, available with the choice of diesel/manual or petrol/auto.

We tested the ASX Aspire in both petrol/auto and diesel/manual configuration recently, spending plenty of time in the driver's seat between Sydney and Melbourne.

The 2.0 litre four cylinder petrol powerplant produces 110 kW of power and 197 Nm of torque. This engine is also used in the Lancer range. The engine is very quiet and smooth at low speeds. In Aspire guise, this engine is only available with the excellent continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic which helps ensure gear changes and acceleration are smooth whilst preserving fuel consumption. This is excellent for stop/start city driving.

Factory supplied fuel economy data for the AWD petrol variant claims combined cycle consumption of 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres. We covered 3,481 kilometres in the Aspire 2.0 litre petrol with the majority of driving being highway in 2WD mode using cruise control. However, we never achieved better economy than the stated combined result.

Under highway conditions, the diesel ASX is superior to the petrol version. The 2 litre petrol engine performs as well as its petrol-fuelled competitors on the open road but not quite as well as the diesel with its extra torque. The 1.8-litre all-aluminium DOHC 16-valve four cylinder common rail direct injection turbo diesel engine produces a maximum power of 110 kW @ 4,000 rpm and peak torque of 300 Nm @ 2,000 rpm. That is the same amount of power as the petrol but has 52% more torque. This extra torque aids acceleration at all speeds. Its particularly helpful at highway speed, ensuring you can overtake with confidence, even on steep inclines. As mentioned earlier, the diesel is only available with a six speed manual gearbox and this is one of the few negatives about this car. We'd like to see an automatic option available with the extra pulling power of the diesel. The fuel economy of the diesel is excellent at just 5.9 litres per 100 km. The fuel tank capacity for the AWD ASX is 60 litres and with the meagre diesel consumption, this equates to a theoretical range of 1,000 km on one tank of diesel. This was possibly a design target for the engineers.

Typically Mitsubishi, the styling is conservative with the 'jet fighter' grille dominating from the front. You might not notice at first glance, but the ASX actually shares its wheelbase and 70% of its underpinnings with the larger Outlander model. Externally the ASX manages to set itself apart from both the Outlander and the smaller Lancer. The ride height is lifted and the front and rear overhangs minimised to give you the appearance of off-road ability. The reality is the ASX is likely to spend most of the time in the city or at least on sealed roads. To that end, the ASX is pleasing to drive with well weighted steering and excellent vision from the raised driving position. The suspension has been modified slightly from the Outlander to accommodate for the shorter and lighter ASX. The ASX feels safe and dependable in corners and under braking.

The AWD models allow the driver to choose between three modes: 2WD, 4WD and Lock. Mitsubishi call it All-Wheel Control (AWC) and this allows you to change the setting on the move up to speeds of 100 km/h. In 2WD mode, all the torque is transferred to the front wheels. In 4WD, the torque is distributed between front and rear wheels in an optimal range as determined by the AWC sensors. The torque split range is between 2% front, 98% rear and 50% front, 50% rear and is continuously variable dependent on conditions. It's also possible to select 4WD lock mode, which provides gives constant drive to both front and rear.

Euro NCAP have awarded the ASX its best possible rating of five stars. Not surprising as the ASX is packed with standard safety features. All ASX variants get anti-lock braking and 7 airbags including drivers knee airbag and curtain airbags to protect occupants in the rear. Safety is also assured by the inclusion of electronic brake force distribution, hill start control to prevent rolling backward, active traction control and active stability control.

For safe and precise parking, the Aspire has both a reverse camera and reverse park sensors. The camera is engaged automatically when reverse gear is selected and the picture is shown on the MMCS entertainment screen in the centre of the dash. The camera is at a good angle but does collect a lot of glare meaning performance suffers a little in bright sunshine. In other conditions it is excellent. The sensors on the rear bumper have not been painted to match the body colour which is surprising given the excellent overall quality of the ASX. Parking is also assisted by good rear vision and large side mirrors. The side mirrors can be folded electronically also to protect them in tight parking spots. The Aspire is also equipped with rain sensing wipers and dusk sensing head lights.

The Aspire gets larger, more stylish 17 inch alloys as opposed to the 16 inch alloy wheels available on the other variants. The Aspire also sets itself apart with dark privacy glass and chrome trim around the grille, fog lights and the belt line. The belt line is the lower edge of the side windows.

The Aspire gets the luxury touch inside with full leather trim. The driver's seat is power operated and both front seats are heated. The Aspire also receives the Mitsubishi Multi Communication System (MMCS) which includes satellite navigation and a very user friendly 7 inch touch screen. The MMCS is also integrated with Bluetooth connectivity for your mobile phone and lets you access and customise a whole host of vehicle settings like the trip computer and climate control. You can connect to the MMCS with your iPod or via a USB cable and also play DVDs. The DVD won't show any vision (for safety reasons) whilst the car is moving.

The interior quality and functionality is excellent. The seats offer excellent comfort around town and importantly, a very good driving position. Unfortunately, on long drives we didn't find the driving seat as comfortable as it should be as it lacks support for the lower back with no lumbar adjustment available. The position itself is very flexible to accommodate all shapes and sizes including being able to adjust the steering column for both tilt and reach. Around town the interior comfort and layout is ideal. Passenger comfort is good and there is plenty of legroom in the rear.

The ASX pricing starts at $25,990* for the 2WD entry level manual. Add $2,500 for the automatic transmission. The all-wheel drive ASX pricing starts at $31,990*. Importantly, the petrol powered AWD is the same price as the diesel. Don't forget, the diesel is currently only available with manual transmission and for the AWD ASX, the petrol engine is only available when paired with the CVT auto box. The top of the range ASX Aspire AWD is $36,990* in both petrol and diesel. Metallic or pearlescent paint are $450 options on all models. The Aspire AWD petrol test vehicle was fitted with the panoramic roof option which has a list price of $800.

The 4WD petrol model has service intervals of 15,000 kms or every 12 months and thanks to Mitsubishi's Diamond Advantage Capped Price Servicing scheme, the first 4 services will only cost retail buyers $225 each. The diesel has the same intervals, however servicing costs are slightly more expensive at $250 for the 15k service and $350 for the next three services. The Capped Price Servicing pricing is honoured by all Mitsubishi dealers not just the selling dealer. If you sell your Mitsubishi, any unexpired fixed price servicing benefits transfer to the new owner.

Mitsubishi is particularly proud of its 5/10 warranty and this applies to the ASX. This is 5 years or 130,000 kms of cover, whichever occurs first on the car. This is fully transferable if the car is sold within the warranty period. Additionally, the power train is covered for 10 years/160,000 kms, whichever occurs first however this extension of the warranty is not transferable. Importantly, you also receive 5 years or 130,000 kms of roadside assistance which is not common place in cars of this price. This feature reinforces the value offered by Mitsubishi and also ensures maintenance costs remain below that of competitors.

The high build quality and practical design of the ASX are enough to ensure it is considered by new car buyers. Its high specification, including safety features as well as its excellent pricing and cost of ownership make it a contender as one of the best vehicles in the segment.

NOTE: * MLP (manufacturer's list price) excludes options, dealer delivery fees and the various statutory charges. Additionally, all prices, fees, charges and specifications are always subject to change without notice.

More Mitsubishi News ..... here.

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