MY first test drive car as a motoring journalist, 12 years ago, was a Mitsubishi Shogun.
The big car is still going strong today and remains a benchmark for ultra-capable four-wheel-drives. The Mitsubishi range has grown alongside it and as the marque celebrates its 40th birthday in the UK, Flush Magazine spent a week in a car that continues the Japanese company’s notable 4×4 heritage, the ASX. With more than 350,000 sold since its launch in 2010, the model has proved to be a global success. This clever five-door SUV (sports utility vehicle) crossover bridges the gap between Mitsubishi’s conventional passenger cars and its rugged off-roaders.
And now many aspects of the motor have been refreshed and refined. The car has kit aplenty – all models have alloy wheels, air conditioning, electric windows and keyless access. The entry-level ASX 2 also boasts active stability and traction control, seven airbags and, new for 2014, a Bluetooth hands-free system.
The ASX 3 adds the likes of climate control, parking sensors, privacy glass, front fog lamps, cruise control, six-speaker sound system, auto lights and rain sensors, heated front seats and a leather-bound steering wheel.
Our test model, the ASX 4, is the most accomplished of the lot. On top of top of the already strong list of standard equipment, it adds reversing camera, leather upholstery, integrated satnav and CD/radio with MP3 compatibility.
On the safety front, the five-star Euro NCAP-rated car bristles with hi-tech systems, including the manufacturer’s RISE technology, which dissipates energy from an impact away from the passenger compartment. And the way the front of the vehicle has been put together means that pedestrian protection is optimised. An energy-absorbing bumper and plastic front wings serve to lessen the impact of any collision.
Design-wise the softer nose merges with a sculpted bonnet featuring a double bulge: this serves the dual purpose of contributing to better pedestrian safety, and also to make the body more visible to the driver, improving manoeuvrability around town.
The low and balanced silhouette, and bulging wheel arches, create a ‘tension effect’ which gives the impression the car is in motion even at a standstill. The ASX’s roofline flows down towards the rear of the car, enhancing aerodynamic performance.
At the rear, the designers have created a wide, purposeful stance. The rear bumper has been recently re-designed, completing work that’s been carried out to fine-tune the appearance. Practical and versatile, the car offers generous passenger space, accommodating five people with ease, and flexible seating for good load-carrying. The capacity of the luggage space is 442 litres with the rear seat-backs in place and 1,193 litres with them lowered.
A panoramic glass roof makes the cabin feel light and airy, and I loved the mood lighting – something usually found only in high-end executive models. Electrically-adjustable seat controls helped me quickly find my ideal driving position and there is great visibility thanks to the car’s higher stance.
The lusty 2.2-litre diesel engine is well mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox, and our car had push-button selectable four-wheel-drive (two wheel drive versions are also available). With taut handling, comfortable ride and bags of smooth power, the ASX served up a pleasant and engaging driving experience.
Make/Model: Mitsubishi ASX 4
Technical: 148bhp, 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine with six-speed automatic transmission.
Performance: 0-62mph, 10.8 seconds; top speed 118mph.
Fuel: 48.7mph (combined)
Price: From £16,499 to £23,899.