What is it? The 2017 Mitsubishi ASX is a minor facelifted version of an underrated SUV.
Key features: Subtle styling changes, new upholstery, equipment.
Our view: The latest updates do not add much but the Mitsubishi ASX is still a good value SUV, particularly if you are looking for all-wheel-drive.
Type of review: Taster test
Mitsubishi knows all about all-wheel-drive. Which is why around half of the customers who buy the Mitsubishi ASX small crossover choose to have traction from all the wheels. This is very unusual in today’s SUV market – less than five per cent of the segment-creating Nissan Qashqai sales, for example, are 4WD.
Those Mitsubishi buyers are quite savvy – the ASX is a good value vehicle with surprising space. But despite selling around 4,000 a year, its attractions are missed by many potential buyers, so a facelift aims to give 2017 models a sales boost.
Except that this revamp of a model sold in the UK since 2010 is not very exciting. Mechanically there are no changes at all – the ASX gained a new 1.6 diesel engine in 2015 and the latest updates focus on styling, interior tweaks and equipment.
The new exterior look brings the latest Mitsubishi design language, ‘Dynamic Shield’ to the ASX. Created by the brand’s European design studio established two years ago, the most obvious change is to the front end. This is now more sculpted with a double bonnet bulge and two strong chrome stripes on the nose. It is a definite improvement on its predecessor.
Otherwise the model gains a shark’s fin antenna on the roof, while inside there are some new seat fabrics – oh yes and the heated seat switches have been moved. There are new infotainment systems too, but only if you choose higher-spec models, more on which shortly.
But while there might not be a lot new to get excited about, the ASX is still worth checking out. On the outside it is pleasant to look at – this is a compact machine and boasts exterior lines that tend more towards family hatch than bulbous SUV.
Outside and inside
The Mitsubishi ASX effectively sits between two segments. It’s bigger than the likes of the Renault Captur, Skoda Yeti, Suzuki S-Cross, but smaller than a Nissan Qashqai, SEAT Ateca or Kia Sportage. All of which means lots of room and useful boot space of 419 litres, big enough for the traditional two sets of golf clubs, along with easy manoeuvring in tight spots.
The cabin is – okay. The dash is a bit dark and traditional, but the controls are easy to find one’s way round and the fit and finish adequate. The infotainment touchscreen is mounted high on a centre console that bulges towards the driver and this falls naturally to hand. This is of course if one buys any but the entry-level ASX 2 trim. ASX 3 models have gained a new system that includes a reversing camera, while ASX 4 and the new ASX 5 trim get the latest multimedia system with satellite navigation – and aluminium sports pedals too…
On the road
Engine choices range across 1.6-litre petrol or diesel units with a manual gearbox and two-wheel-drive, a 4WD version of the diesel, and a 2.2-litre diesel that only comes with an auto gearbox and 4WD. Despite rumours, there is no sign yet of the ASX being given a plug-in hybrid powertrain of the type that has propelled its big sister the Outlander to best-selling Mitsubishi status.
The 2.2 proved a competent performer during our brief test drive. It offers three driving modes, most of the time operating in 2WD form. It can switch to a 4WD 70:30 torque split and the transmission can then be locked for a 50:50 split across both axles – enough to keep the ASX going through any situation likely to be found on UK roads.
The car is usefully swift and easy to handle, if occasionally a little rattly over less than perfect surfaces. Mitsubishi highlights the independent rear suspension fitted and in corners the ASX certainly stays upright and behaves itself. It’s all very neutral, which no doubt suits the generally mature customer base the car attracts.
Those customers will also likely be attracted by the specification. ASX prices start at £15,999 and include a safety package ranging across seven airbags, brake assist, hill-start assist and stop signals automatically activated in under emergency braking. All cars also come with a five-year warranty.
More attractive is the £18,349 ASX 3, which includes the touchscreen infotainment, auto lights and wipers, cruise control and those heated seats. Then it’s a big jump to 4 trim at £24,249, necessary to get 4WD. Other highlights include the sat nav, a leather interior and a panoramic sunroof. Finally the range-topping 5 trim, from £26,949, ups the quality of the leather, heats all the seats and liberally sprinkles LED lighting.
The more expensive versions of the Mitsubishi ASX pitch it against some seriously tempting competitors. But the lower-end models especially are good value for someone wanting a no-nonsense crossover with plenty of space.
Mitsubishi ASX – key specifications
Price: £15,999, ASX 5 from £26,949
On sale: November 2016
Engines: 1.6 Petrol, 115hp, 154Nm. 1.6 diesel, 114hp, 270Nm. 2.2 diesel, 150hp, 266Nm.
0-62mph and max speed: 11.5sec*, 114mph*. 11.2sec*, 113mph*. 10.8sec, 118mph
Economy and emissions: 48.7mpg*, 135g/km*. 61.4mpg*, 119g/km. 48.7mpg*, 152g/km.
Key rivals: SEAT Ateca, Mazda CX-3, Suzuki S-Cross
Test date: January 2017.
* = 2WD, manual transmission
The Car Expert Taster Tests are concise summaries of new models to the market, that we have driven for under 50 miles.