The switch from the admirable A3 Sportback to the Mitsubishi was quite a big step, and yet I have very quickly warmed to the ASX, very different though it is from the Audi in both style and character.
The elevated driving position and the general feeling of solidity makes you feel very secure behind the wheel and the cabin ambience is one of practicality, comfort, and space, with a touch of luxury provided by the black leather upholstery with the electrically operated and heated seats on this model variant. Other “luxury” items of real note are the panoramic glass sunroof, reversing camera, and the user-friendly satellite navigation, which for once doesn’t require a master’s degree in IT to operate.
Mitsubishi appears to have a thing for old-fashioned push-buttons, employing them for the driver information display selection and also for engine starting, the latter button operating in conjunction with a keyless proximity fob, and requiring depression of the footbrake to allow engine start-up. The on-board computer (OBC) information displays are not the most advanced, in terms of available information or ease of use, and I’ve settled for almost exclusive use of the mpg, distance, time, average speed and “A” trip reading that resets to zero on every new journey I undertake.
True to my colours, I’ve taken an immediate interest in the ASX’s fuel economy potential, particularly since the smaller 1.8-litre engine, available on manual transmission ASX variants, is one of the most economical cars of its type. The 2.2-litre unit employs variable intake valve timing and a low compression ratio, whilst it delivers a strong 148bhp at just 3,500rpm, with meaty torque of 266lb ft from just 1,500rpm, translating into plenty of easily accessible performance on the road, with a real kick available when you need it for swift acceleration. To date, I’ve not yet consumed a full tank of fuel, so economy figures can only be reported as mid-forties to the gallon, although I’ve cracked 50mpg on one decent run, which is most impressive for an automatic with a 2.2-litre engine. We’ve a long journey down to Kent, with a few days there and then the return trip, totalling 500 miles plus, which should give us a better idea of higher speed cruising fuel economy.
I have considerably warmer feelings towards the ASX than many 4x4s, as its ride comfort is generally pretty good, and its size and feel on the road is not at all overwhelming or provocative. It has not adopted any extreme styling quirks, it’s definitely “very different from the boxy ‘sub-SUV’ look of its competitors” as Mitsubishi UK says, and it doesn’t shout about its three-way drive mode, 2WD, automatic 4WD, or 4WD lock, which may come in handy if it keeps on raining like it is today! I’m also quite happy with its marketing as a multi-functional crossover that’s equally happy out in the country or in the urban environment, albeit that the rear-view camera that displaces the rear parking sensors of more modest model variants tends to suggest that, in the absence of aural warning, you’ll be more able to see what you’re about to hit, rather than actually know when you’re getting too close!
I’m most impressed with the heating and ventilation system, as the blower fan and air conditioning can work up a real cool blast that’s as impressive as anything I’ve experienced, and the rear seat passengers have been really happy to date with its ability to keep them cool on a hot day. It’s been a happy three weeks so far, and I feel that an ASX could become a lasting friend. Certainly other owner reports are favourable and there’s something about its individuality and relative scarcity on the road that is quite endearing. I’m really excited about tackling some longer journeys behind the wheel.
The cargo area has a nice rubber mat that takes away worries about crushing or soiling the usual black carpet, and the only thing that really concerns me is the absence of a spare wheel and the ubiquitous puncture repair outfit, complete with its own compressor, that’s stored under the boot floor. I’ve a feeling that I’ll be calling on the emergency services if I find myself far from home on dark wet night with a flat tyre!
|Whats Hot:||The heating and ventilation system has a formidable throughput of air, both hot or cold.|
|Whats Not:||Without a passenger, the seat belt swings about and often clangs annoyingly against the B-post, and I’ve taken to slotting it into its centre socket to quell the din.|
|Date arrived:||12th May 2014|
|Mileage to date:||4,870 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||48.7mpg (official combined)
44.3mpg (on test)