Around a decade or so ago, Mitsubishi released, in Australia, the Lancer based Outlander. It very quickly morphed into a bigger, more stylish vehicle than the compact and edgy original, leaving Mitsubishi without a smallish SUV styled vehicle. Some years later, the Lancer based ASX was released (and shared with Citroen and Peugeot). It started off as a semi harpish angled, petrol engined only machine and in 2015 is a softened slightly, diesel optioned chariot. A Wheel Thing talks to the torquey diesel Mitsubishi ASX AWD.
Oddly, that diesel is a 2.2L, rather than a possibly more logical 1.8L. The caveat here is simple: it’s only available with the selectable AWD (in Mitsubishi speak, AWC or All Wheel Control) system, in the LS and XLS variant (the XLS does come in 2WD petrol as well). The petrol engines spin 110kW at 6000 revs, the diesel has the same power but 2500 revs lower.
Naturally, it talks the torque with a more than handy 360 Newton metres between 1500 to 2750 rpm, shading the petrol’s twist of 197Nm at 4200 rpm. Mitsubishi quotes a combined consumption figure of 5.8L per 100 kilometres driven, from a 60 litre tank. I’d call that a range of 1000 kilometres (under the ideal driving circumstances, of course…). Perhaps Mitsubishi were looking at the economy vs weight, as the ASX XLS is 1530 kilos dry.
As did the Outlander originally, ASX has a resemblance to the host car (Lancer) at the front. The trapezoidal grille stands proud, identifying the ASX as a member of the Lancer family. The XLS tested comes with an AWD system, but the height of the car is that of the new breed of small SUVs, in that there’s a little bit of extra clearance but certainly nothing like, say, an Outlander.
It’s squat, boxy in basic design, with enough curves to soften the overall impression. There’s been LED driving lights added at the front, wrapping the globe lit lights the ASX has had since release (bar the entry level) and, on the XLS, rolls on 215/60 Dunlop licorice wrapping some truly good looking ten spoke alloys.
If you stand on a small ladder you’ll then notice a (almost) full length glass roof, with a curtain that rolls back at the touch of a button. Red LED lights add a nightclub style look, especially under dark skies. The test car was clad in Mitsubishi’s deep metallic red.
On The Inside.
You’d be hard pressed to pick it, unsurprisingly, from the donor Lancer car. It seats four comfortably, has a reasonable amount of room, colour LCD display for the driver with variable info displayed, chromed dials for the aircon, the flip out touchscreen with audio and satnav and the awkwardly placed (unusual for Mitsubuishi) heated seating switches, planted on the rear inside plastic centre console, right next to the seatbelt lock.
Drive selection is via paddle shifts on the steering column or traditional gear shift with sports mode.
Audio wise, the XLS has the Rockford Fosgate system; it’s clear, punchy and will accept Bluetooh, USB and Auxiliary inputs, plus CD behind the fold up LCD navitainment screen. The plastics look ok however the overall ambiance is lacking compared to other vehicles in its class; it’s the standard ripple effect over the dash and doors, with a strip of brushed alloy look just above the chromed dials for the aircon and all housed in piano black. It’s no longer groundbreaking or out of the ordinary.
On The Road.
Turbo lag is and will, more than likely, continue to be the bane of single turbo charged engines. The 2.2L diesel in the XLS has it in spades with all throttle applications seeing the ASX waiting before it launches, but wow, DOES it launch! Being a front wheel drive chariot (with a lockable AWD system in this), a hard launch will have the front tyres scrabbling for grip.
It’s a traditional, torque converter style, six speed auto in the XLS, to deal with the mountainous torque available so low down, yet felt as if it was programmed to act like a CVT, with hesitation from Reverse to Drive and acceleration had the same CVT feel. Steering was light and the suspension wasn’t overly confidence inspiring, with the initial softish ride seeming to go into a compressed, hard mode too early on some surfaces, making the ride feel skittish and unrefined. Towing is ok for its class, up to 1400 kg (braked).
The AWC system is engaged via a console mounted button, lights up a symbol on the dash but, really, didn’t feel as if there was a noticeable change in handling. Apart from the torque steer, it’s overall a neutral and predictable, if somewhat bland package.
Rolling acceleration is rapid, thanks again to that torque spread, however I’d prefer to see that spread moved up the rev range by 500 or so revs to increase the overall driveability.
It’s currently, arguably, the second newest design in the Mitsubishi garage, after the Mirage sedan and hatch, yet is somewhat held back by the Lancer underpinnings. The exterior design is unoffensive as is the interior although the full glass roof is a nice luxury touch. The diesel is possibly the highlight, offering around six litres per one hundred kilometres covered; it’s quiet, refined, pulls like a train but is geared to provide torque, in my opinion, a touch too low in the rev range, with torque steer an issue, given the absurdly low starting point for all of that torque through the front driven wheels.
Although it seats four, the compact dimensions (just 4295 mm long with a wheelbase of only 2670 mm) preclude any truly usable rear cargo space when four are seated (just 393L), however that little issue is negated, naturally, if only two people at most intend to be passengers.
Although fitted with a switchable AWD system, the ride height of under 20cm unladen would also limit any off road usage to smooth gravel style roads, although the diesel, with that aforementioned torque, would probably haul the ASX over some mild rocky terrain if driven judiciously.
For my money, the ASX and its French badged brethren are what’s wrong and right with the smaller SUV category: wrong because they’ re really not used as an SUV and at the cost of a sedan’s usage, right because they do provide a cost effective and smaller packaged solution for those that may not need the next step up.
At the time of writing, Mitsubishi Australia had some pricing specials available across the range, with a driveaway price starting from $24990 for the entry level up to $36990 for the diesel XLS.
The Car: Mitsubishi ASX XLS.
Engine: 2.2L diesel.
Transmission: six speed automatic, non CVT.
Consumption: 5.8L/100 kms (claimed).
Weight: 1530 kg (unladen)
Dimensions: 4295 x 1770 x 1625 (L x W x H in mm).
Wheelbase: 2670 mm.