Of the set questions your job must answer, car testers are hugely familiar with this one: ìAh, so if a maker lends you some wheels, I guess you have to write nice things about it?î The answer, of course, is that we work for our readers, not the car maker. If we wrote gushing, soft-focus sentences packed with enough superlatives to break the axles, I suspect the car manufacturer would be the first to question the point of its original loan.
This is utmost in my mind as we finally scrape over the line with our ASX, a car that breezed into the driveway on a balmy summer day and departed in the post-tinsel depths of a grim winter. Itís been called on to deliver five occupants for a holiday in Devon, deliver a pregnant cat to the vet, clock up endless shopping and student shuttles and serve as my default wheels for a gamut of work assignments. So first, letís ponder a few nice things.
Above all, the ASX is solid, on all levels. Itís done six months of service without so much as a hiccough. With approaching 8,000 miles under its timing chain (another good thing to note, it being belt-less), the gearbox is flowing more intuitively, and the other tangibles of driving feel good. Jump into this from a hatchback and youíll like the elevated, confident driving position, even if it can initially feel like youíre more perched than ensconced. Great touches? I love the hill-holder feature, the kids enjoyed the privacy glass, we all liked the puddle-plunging ride height.
Itís versatile, too: the rear seats are a grunt-free job to adjust and load space is enough to ensure you donít get livestreamed in the Ikea car park for the next Darwin awards. True, I found a kitchen dresser had to be moved by my old Beetle Cabrio (with the hood down, Antiques Roadshow-style), but the ASX makes a tidy fist of combining compact SUV with ready family caterer. Youíre not going to trump a Renault Kadjar for total storage space, but the ASX can bag smaller parking slots and deliver impressive returns at the pump.
Fuel economy, in fact, is its killer card. Even if you share a shoe size with Boris Karloff, itís unlikely that this model will let you down for mpg. Driven with little heed to the edicts of the mile-high club, youíll find somewhere around 50mpg is its centre of gravity. True, I have to hang my head for this adieu and admit taking the graph over a cliff edge and down towards 46mpg, but for that (and letís hope she never reads this) I blame my wife, who took my advice on an icy day to activate 4WD before leavingÖ only for us to leave the system on for the next 200-odd miles.
Which brings me to the not so nice. That easily-forgotten on/off 4WD switch is a pain; Mitsubishiís knob experts should have stuck with the previous, more failsafe dial. Going for 4WD, of course, spells a jump from £20,565 up to £24,505 and the difference between the two also includes a few extras. Interrogating the value of these, however, I wonder if the ASX 3 buyers laugh loudest? A 4WD button usually does little more than gather dust, even here in the semi-rural Cotswolds. The level 4 spec Panoramic roof, as Iíve reported, is also an airy-fairy styling issue and the reversing camera could easily be replaced by your neck muscles. Finally, this car has a touchscreen navigation system. Itís nifty, but does it really clinch that £3,940 price gap?
And so back to a question all car testers get asked: whatís the best car I can buy? If your crossover criteria demands something neater and thriftier than so many of the choices, the ASX might break ahead of the herd. Consider a 3 spec, with lower CO2 and enhanced mpg, and the argumentís stronger still.
Date arrived 26th July 2017
Fuel economy urban/extra urban/combined 50.4/60.1/56.5mpg on test 46.7mpg
Pumped up: Low refuelling costs have always made the ASX a housekeeping hero.
Shut it: Somehow the glovebox door has decided not to sit flush when closed.