First Drive: Mitsubishi ASX
SECTOR: Crossover PRICE: £14,999–£23,899 FUEL: 48.7–55.4mpg CO2: 134–153g/km
There’s timeliness to the arrival of the refreshed Mitsubishi ASX. The carmaker is back in profit in Japan and, aided by a growing dealer network and improving exchange rate, its UK importer recorded a 38% year-on-year sales rise in 2013.
With European models built in Japan, the exchange rate has made a huge difference. The ASX launched to 8,000 sales in 2010, dropping to 3,000 the year afterwards as the Yen eroded its competitiveness. But the tide has turned again, and the result is a 9-10% drop in prices across the range, which will help BiK costs and leasing rates too. Around 4,500 are expected to sell during 2014.
For the most part, the line-up is unchanged. There’s still a choice of 1.6-litre petrol and 1.8-litre diesel engines, the latter also available with four-wheel drive, and trims comprise progressively better equipped 2, 3 and 4 versions with a retail-focused, top-heavy customer base. Bluetooth is now standard across the range, as are improvements to ride quality and NVH levels. Even on rough surfaces the ASX doesn’t feel too firmly sprung, and there’s minimal road or wind noise at speed.
Mitsubishi has broadened the range for 2014, so there’s now a diesel automatic in the 4 trim said to open the car up to 19% of the segment’s volume. It’s the carmaker’s new 2.2-litre unit, as launched in the new Outlander, and feels incredibly smooth and relaxed in the smaller ASX. The gearbox, also from the Outlander, learns driving patterns and adjusts shifting to suit, usually proving more effective than leaving it to its own devices.
A downward shift in CO2 emissions would’ve been helpful for the two-wheel drive 1.8-litre diesel, which at 134g/km is starting to lag behind the segment’s newcomers, but segment-lowest pricing helps. With crossovers continuing to bloom in popularity, this competitive boost means Mitsubishi can’t go too far wrong.