The Mitsubishi ASX was launched in 2009 as a rival to small SUVs such as the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti. Now the car is getting a new engine and gearbox combo, revised trim levels, more standard equipment and around 10% trimmed off the list price.
The ASX has a solid enough reputation for build quality and practicality, but it has fallen down in the past in a number of other key areas – notably refinement. Are the revisions enough to make the ASX worthy of serious consideration?
The new engine and gearbox combination pairs the 2.2-litre diesel engine (Mitsubishi's own unit, first seen in the Outlander) with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The combo is available only on the range-topping ASX4 model (£23,899), which has four-wheel drive as standard. However, a 1.6-litre petrol (two-wheel drive only) and a 1.8-litre diesel (two- or four-wheel drive) also get minor upgrades and price revisions.
What's the 2014 Mitsubishi ASX like to drive?
The ASX's 2.2-litre diesel engine has 147bhp and 266lb ft of torque – which is plenty for a car of this size. Even with a six-speed automatic transmission, the ASX feels sprightly enough to maintain swift progress. The gearbox isn't foolproof, but it's smart enough for most scenarios – and it does offer 'manual' shifts via paddles behind the steering wheel.
Unfortunately, the ASX's refinement is still an issue. The engine transmits far too much noise into the cabin, particularly when the auto 'box decides to kick down. Once you're up and cruising the noise becomes more bearable, but at that point the noise of the tyres takes over.
The 1.6 petrol is also very noisy, although it's surprisingly strong for an old-school engine that doesn't have a turbocharger to help out at low revs. The absence of a sixth gear also means the engine is spinning away comparitively quickly at 70mph.
The chassis set-up has been revised for the 2014 model year but the ASX still isn't great to drive. The good news is that it doesn't lean over in corners quite as much as it used to, and while the ride can be a little slow to settle down over broken surfaces it does manage to prevent the worst thumps and bumps from bothering passengers. However, the steering is very slow, and quicker responses around the straight-ahead would be beneficial.
On paper, the ASX4 2.2 auto doesn't offer particularly impressive fuel economy or CO2 emissions - but then, it's worth remembering that this is a four-wheel-drive SUV. Its figures of 48.7mpg and 153g/km actually look decent enough when compared with, for example, Hyundai's four-wheel-drive ix35 auto, which can manage only 39.2mpg and 189g/km.
Officially, the 1.6 petrol lags behind newer rivals such as Renault Captur, Ford Ecosport and Skoda Yeti. However, in our own True MPG tests, the ASX actually posted a better average real-world average economy than all of these cars.
What's the 2014 Mitsubishi ASX like inside?
The original ASX had a neat, inoffensive cabin that was short on flair but little else – and the same applies to the new model. Build quality is decent, and there are now more soft-touch, textured plastics. That said, the emphasis is still on robustness and functionality over luxury.
Most of the controls are logically laid out, simple and clear. However, the same can't be said for the ASX4's infotainment system, which looks a generous standard equipment item until you try to use it. It's a fiddly aftermarket system that lags well behind more integrated set-ups.
Still, the rest of the cabin remains practical enough, with decent shoulder- and headroom, even with the ASX4's panoramic glass roof. There's enough space in the rear cabin for two grown-ups to travel in reasonable comfort.
Boot capacity is a decent 442 litres, which includes some clever under-floor storage, and this figure rises to 1193 litres when you fold down the rear seats. Several key rivals offer larger capacities, particularly with the seats down, but the ASX doesn't feel short-changed in this area.
The range-topping ASX4 gets a panoramic roof, a Kenwood multimedia unit – with sat-nav – heated leather seats, cruise control and a revising camera as standard.
Should I buy one?
The Mitsubishi ASX remains a competent, left-field alternative to established small SUVs. It offers decent practicality, a sturdily constructed cabin and lots of standard equipment. Mitsubishi's strong dealer reputation and reliability record bring further appeal.
Avoid the range-topping 2.2 diesel ASX4 – at nearly £24,000, it's up against some serious opposition, and its poor refinement means that it can't quite carry it off against cars that are no worse finished, no less practical and just that bit more grown-up.
The entry-level 1.6 is much easier to recommend, although we'd still point you towards a Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI if you value practicality, interior quality or an entertaining drive.
What Car? says…
Specification (ASX2 1.6 2WD manual)
Engine size 1.6-litre petrol
Price from £14,999
Torque 114lb ft
Top speed 113mph
Fuel economy 47.1mpg
Specification (ASX3 1.8DI-D 2WD manual)
Engine size 1.8-litre diesel
Price from £18,750
Torque 221lb ft
0-62mph 10.2 seconds
Top speed 117mph
Fuel economy 55.4mpg
Specification (ASX4 4WD auto)
Engine size 2.2-litre diesel
Price from £23,899
Torque 266lb ft
0-62mph 10.8 seconds
Top speed 118mph
Fuel economy 48.7mpg
By John McIlroy