What is it?
This is the most important global car to come out of Mitsubishi Motors for five years.
The sharply styled ASX is a compact crossover that squarely targets the similar-size Nissan Qashqai. After our brief test drive in Tokyo, we’d say its chances are fair, thanks to a solid chassis, well constructed interior and superb ride and comfort levels.
European-spec cars will get a choice of either a 1.6-litre petrol engine or an all-new 1.8-litre, Euro5-compliant turbodiesel mated to a six-speed manual gearbox with ‘Auto-Stop-and-Go’. Two and four-wheel-drive options will be offered on the diesel but the petrol variant will be front-drive only.
Our test car was a four-wheel-drive, Japan-only model (called the RVR), powered by a 136bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine with a CVT auto ’box.
What's it like?
The five-seat RVR reaches 60mph from rest in 9.0sec, so it’s no bullet, but it goes about its business quietly thanks to clever noise and vibration isolation and a ride quality that is superior to that of the Qashqai.
Its direct steering is well weighted, while the body doesn’t roll as much as the Outlander’s. This is partly due to the RVR’s reasonable 1350kg kerb weight and a revised front strut and rear multi-link suspension set-up.
Inside, Mitsubishi has lifted trim levels with high-quality (if a little dour) plastics, a powered leather seat option, a high-spec audio system and a large sunroof.
Should I buy one?
The Mitsubishi engineer we spoke to during our drive revealed that keen European drivers will be better off opting for diesel power and the six-speed manual, which will deliver a more enjoyable drive than the 1.8-litre Japanese model.
And while pricing is still to be announced, the new ASX is expected to undercut both the Qashqai and the Volkswagen Tiguan, while offering a comparable driving experience.
If the UK model is as accomplished as our Japanese car it should make a tempting prospect for those wanting an affordable compact SUV.