Mitsubishi ASX SUV

£15,434 - £25,134

With the booming popularity of the SUV crossover class, building the Mitsubishi ASX must have been something of a no-brainer. Mitsubishi already has a long-established reputation for making tough four-wheel-drive vehicles like the Mitsubishi L200 pick-up truck and Mitsubishi Shogun SUV, so a crossover must have seemed like the next logical step.

In taking this off-road know-how and applying it to a more user-friendly crossover, the ASX goes up against excellent cars like the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar, Skoda Yeti and Mazda CX-3. Mitsubishi is also hoping to tempt buyers away from conventional hatchbacks like the Ford Focus and Kia Cee’d, as the ASX offers the raised ride height and improved visibility of an SUV without the associated running costs of traditional four-wheel-drive car.

It's fair to say that the ASX is a qualified success. It certainly looks the part, with a tough go-anywhere attitude, while its low starting price also impresses. Unfortunately, while the ASX is by no means a bad car, the Nissan Qashqai and Renault Kadjar both outclass it by offering a more ‘car-like’ driving experience, better engine options and nicer interiors.

ASX customers can choose from one petrol engine and two diesels. The 1.6-litre petrol is best avoided, as it feels underpowered in a car of this size and needs to be worked hard to make progress – meaning you’re unlikely to be able to match its claimed fuel economy figure of 48.7mpg. It's also only available with front-wheel drive, limiting appeal further.

That leaves you with either a 1.6 or 2.2-litre diesel engine. The 2.2-litre is about £1,500 more expensive than the 1.6-litre and its relatively high CO2 emissions (which incur a £185 road-tax bill) and fuel economy of 48.7mpg aren’t compensated for by a noticeable improvement in performance compared to the smaller diesel. The 2.2-litre is also only available with four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox.

The only sensible engine option, therefore, is the 1.6-litre diesel, which is available with two or four-wheel drive. It returns a reasonable 61.4mpg and emits 119g/km of CO2, making road tax just £30 a year and putting it in the 23% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company car tax band. The 1.6-litre diesel's 0-62mph time of 11.2 seconds means it's not blisteringly quick, but it has enough speed for everyday driving. Do note that choosing four-wheel drive with this engine sees fuel consumption drop to 56.5mpg and road tax rise two bands to £130 a year.

On the road, the ASX's raised ride height and soft suspension mean potholes and poor road surfaces are nicely smoothed out. The downside to this comfortable driving experience is that there's a fair bit of body lean in corners, so the ASX is best driven gently on twisty backroads.

The interior is also something of a mixed bag. While everything feels fairly well screwed together, the overall design and choice of plastics is a little behind what you’ll find in a Nissan Qashqai – although that car is about £3,000 more expensive than the ASX.

Mitsubishi offers the ASX in three trim levels, from the entry-level ZC to the mid-range ZC-M and top-spec ZC-H, which is only available with the diesel engines. We recommend ZC-M trim, as this includes 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, DAB radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity, climate control and cruise control.

While Mitsubishis generally have a strong reputation for dependability, the ASX's record in this area is reasonable rather than astounding. In our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, it came 95th out of 200 cars, although it fared better for reliability, coming 68th. Safety is a stronger suit for the ASX: it scored the full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash tests, aided by its seven airbags, ISOFIX child-seat mounts and braking assistance that boosts stopping power in an emergency.

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