Combination of performance and green credentials makes it a practical choice
Consistent, well-weighted steering helps to inspire confidence
Engine is well-suited to the ASX’s generally relaxed nature
Some of the materials feel cheap
Much of the switchgear familiar from other Mitsubishis
Only big drawback with the new engine is its lack of refinement
First DriveMitsubishi's small SUV is no-nonsense and functional, but still trails its rivals in most areas and this range-topping version looks expensive
First DriveRevised ASX is a practical and eminently sensible package that's let down by refinement and interior issues
What is it?
This is the new Mitsubishi ASX; the Japanese maker’s new entrant to the compact SUV market. The big news is that the ASX gets the company’s new 1.8-litre turbodiesel engine. This 147bhp, 221lb ft all-aluminium unit is the first diesel engine fitted to a passenger car to feature variable-valve timing. The new tech allows the DiD engine to achieve 51.4mpg and 145g/km whilst still managing a sub 10sec 0-62mph time.
Drive is sent through a six-speed manual gearbox, and on our test car drove only the front wheels. The ASX is also available with a four-wheel drive system that can be set to full-time front wheel drive or automatic four-wheel drive.
A 1.6-litre petrol engine will also be available in the UK, but the two-wheel drive 1.8 diesel will account for the majority of sales.
What’s it like?
Very competitive. The only big drawback with the new engine is its lack of refinement. A bass grumble and high-pitch turbo whine is very audible in the cabin if the engine is under load, but the technology has paid off in that the performance is accesible and well-suited to the ASX’s generally relaxed nature.
There’s plenty of low-down torque available so it’s possible to leave the ASX in high gears around town and there will still be enough urge available for easy progress. Standard stop-start and a pliant, well-judged ride also helps to make the ASX an accomplished urban tool.
If you want to access the full performance potential you’ll need to swap cogs regularly, but the gearshift is positive and under full load the ASX shifts with ample urgency. Dynamically the Mitsubishi is very stable and responds faithfully to steering input. Consistent, well-weighted steering also helps to inspire confidence and makes the ASX easy to place precisely on the road. It’s not a new dynamic benchmark in the class, but it is very fit for purpose.
The interior is typically Mitsubishi, with much of the switchgear familiar from other models. Some of the materials feel cheap, and the seats could do with a broader range of height adjustment and more bolster support, but there is plenty of space – 442 litres of luggage capacity - and visibility is good.
Should I buy one?
Yes, if you’re looking for a compact SUV that is well-priced, functional and competent for both motorway or urban use this is a very good choice.
There’s plenty of similarly accomplished competition, some of which offers more flexible and higher-quality interiors, but the Mitsubishi’s combination of performance and saintly green credentials makes it a very practical choice and not an unenjoyable one.