By Karl Peskett.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” We’ve heard that saying being used to apply to everything from apple slicers to brick making. And it’s fine while people are happy to accept an older piece of technology because there’s nothing that does the job better.
But when it comes to cars, it seems every single model on the market is broken in some way, because manufacturers are always updating, replacing or upgrading their vehicles. Coupled with outward pressures such as competitors bringing out new products and customers demanding increased inclusions, it’s no wonder that we see a waterfall of changes in product lines.
Sometimes, though, changes could be made, but aren’t. Usually, that’s due to cost-cutting or trying to squeeze as much life out of a product as possible. Mitsubishi is a classic for this strategy. You can still buy basically the same Lancer as was launched in 2007, and the company’s small SUV, the ASX, is in the rough form it was released in back in 2010.
We decided to spend a week in the ASX, taking in the new front end design and upgraded infotainment, to see whether it was worth the near $28K asking price.
Look around and you’ll see the current shape ASX everywhere, with Mitsubishi happy to do deals. After all, it is getting a bit long in the tooth. However, that’s not really the only reason, is it? Could it be that the ASX is actually good value?
Well, the design is certainly inoffensive. It was originally based on the Mitsubishi Concept-cX, which was a very handsome little crossover, but of course, was toned down for production. For 2019, the chrome accents at the front do make it look a bit more attractive than the first version, and tie it back to Mitsu’s Dynamic Shield design language.
Inside there have been some mild enhancements over the years, though the presentation is roughly the same. You still get a softer touch fascia, with infotainment screen in the centre (now with Apple Car Play and Android Auto) and a couple of metallic accents to give the cabin some visual interest. Some of the textures are quite nice and in the LS version as tested, there’s a nice suede feel to the seats.
The space up front is excellent, and there’s just enough legroom for teenagers and small adults in the back seat. But while the front seats feel beautiful and supportive, the rear seat is very, very firm indeed. You sit on it rather than in it. Still, for the occasional jaunt, that won’t worry most people. Legroom is fine, but the footroom is huge and headroom is good, too, even for very tall people.
The boot space of 393 litres is certainly good enough for some shopping and as we discovered, it will happily swallow a set of golf clubs (with caddy) with no problems.
Under the bonnet you’ll find a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine which makes 110kW and 197Nm. That’s matched to a CVT gearbox – you know, the rubber band style that sounds like a clutch is slipping. Like the exterior, it’s an inoffensive drivetrain, so it’s certainly not inspiring in any way. It gets the job done, is reasonably economical (7.6L/100km) and isn’t too buzzy or thrashy. But it’s not quick, with a 0-100kmh time of around ten seconds.
The dynamics are also average, with enough roadholding for you to feel safe, but not enough ability to throw it around with enthusiasm. The steering has weighting that feels a little odd, with it being quite heavy around centre and getting lighter the more lock you wind on, which is the opposite of what you’d expect.
We also found the autonomous braking to be a little over eager to activate, with one tree on a bend frightening the car into slamming on the brakes mid corner, which consequently frightens the driver and passengers. At least it’s trying to be safe.
The LS spec gets push button start, suede seats, privacy glass, parking sensors and 18-inch wheels, which altogether make it worth the $4500 over the base model. However, the larger, nicer driving and arguably better looking Nissan Qashqai is $27,490, the massively roomy Honda HR-V VTi-S is the same price as the ASX LS and the quirky Citroen Cactus is a grand cheaper.
Now you can see why the Mitsubishi dealers are doing deals. And if it’s a good deal, then go for it. But we’d be opting for the Nissan or the HR-V if they’re unwilling to budge. They’re both a good deal newer, too.