Mitsubishi's entry into the compact crossover market, the Mitsubishi ASX, is one of the army of SUV-inspired family cars that have been introduced to rival conventional mainstream hatchbacks like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. The ASX, with an exterior based on the high-performance Evo X, manages to take the commanding drive position of an off-roader with the fuss-free handling of a family hatchback. The ASX's rugged but compact dimensions are clearly designed to take advantage of the success that cars like the Nissan Qashqai have enjoyed in recent years, and it comes with a choice of petrol and diesel engines. There's two and four-wheel drive versions, too, though four-wheel drive is only available on the diesel, which is the best engine thanks to its decent fuel economy and smooth performance. All versions come equipped with a good array of accessories and equipment as standard. The ASX comes in four specifications – entry-level Attivo and ‘2’, then ‘3’ and top-of-the-range ‘4’. You can only get the diesel as ‘3’ and ‘4’-spec models.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The ASX 1.6-litre petrol is the top seller in the range, and offers reasonable running costs thanks to its stop-start technology, which shuts the engine off when you’re stationary in traffic. It returns a fuel economy figure of 47.1mpg, with CO2 emissions of 137g/km. However, the diesel offers better consumption figures, returning 55.4mpg and emitting 134g/km, which does keeps road rax to a manageable level for a car of this size. The diesel has shorter 9,000-mile service intervals, too; whereas the petrol car only needs to visit the dealer every 12,500 miles. Either way, Mitsubishi's choice of fixed-price service plans should help owners plan out their costs.
Interior & comfort
There's a lot of smart technology that has gone into making the 1.8-litre diesel engine fitted in the ASX run as smoothly as possible, but to be honest, when you start the engine there's still a fair bit of clattering under the bonnet. The petrol engine is a bit in this respect, but ASXs suffer from wind, road and tyre noise when driving on the motorway or accelerating. However, the soft suspension does bring impressive comfort with it, the ASX ably riding through ripples, bumps and speed humps with relative ease. The ASX also offers reach-and-rake adjustment for the steering wheel, which makes it easy to get comfortable behind the wheel and find a good driving position.
Practicality & boot space
With the rears seats in place, the ASX offers a decent 416 litres of space in the boot. Fold the split-fold back seats down flat and that expands to a reasonable 1,193 litres – which is decent but not as big as the Skoda Yeti. The boot opening is fairly big and you do get some under-floor storage, too, plus a ski hatch that helps make carrying longer objects that little bit easier. Inside, a large glove compartment and central storage cubby provide plenty of storage space for your bits’n’bobs and as the ASX boasts a long passenger compartment and raised height, there's lots of leg and headroom in the back. The whole point of a crossover is its improved practicality, and the ASX does fairly well overall, although rivals are getting better all the time.
Reliability & safety
Mitsubishi held strong year-on-year in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, maintaining its 2012 position at 19th in the manufacturers list, based on solid reliability and practicality. Mitsubishi's consistency was also behind the ASX's 29th position in the top 100 list, in its Driver Power debut, which was a solid performer across categories. So you can expect it to prove durable and reliable, whatever you throw at it. The ASX's interior is certainly good quality, with all the switchgear and controls working well and feeling built to last, too. However, some of the plastics don’t have the same quality look and feel as those used in some of its rivals, such as the likes of the Volkswagen Golf. In terms of safety, however, the ASX impresses, coming equipped with seven airbags, as well as anti-skid electronic stability control, traction control, ISOFIX child seat anchor points and brake assist fitted as standard. In fact, it's stocked enough with safety accessories to secure the full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety test.
Engines, drive & performance
The ASX is not as good to drive as either the Nissan Qashqai or the Skoda Yeti, thanks to steering that isn’t as precise and a soft suspension set-up that results in some queasy body roll when driving around corners. That said, it is comfortable on the UK's rough roads and is genuinely adept at absorbing speed bumps and potholes with little fuss. The 114bhp 1.8-litre diesel offers reasonable performance, although you have to work make the turbo really useful. The 1.6-litre petrol needs higher revs to get any real speed from it and it's much noisier when driving on the motorway, as it has to make do with only a five-speed gearbox. The superior diesel is thankfully paired with a six-speed manual box, which performs better but is still pretty notchy. It is easier to manoeuvre than larger Mitsubishis thanks to its smaller dimensions, but doesn’t really offer the levels of fun we’ve come to expect from a good crossover.
Price, value for money & options
This Mitsubishi was good value for money, but is getting old now. The entry-level Attivo comes with alloy wheels, air-conditioning, electric wing mirrors, all-round electric windows, CD player, and Bluetooth and MP3 connectivity all fitted as standard. The better-selling ASX 3 spec adds climate control, cruise control and rear parking sensors. The top-of-the-range models also include a reversing camera and leather seats, so you get a lot of car for the money. It's worth noting that sat-nav and a rear-sear entertainment system is available as dealer fit only.