Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Although the ASX comes with a hearty 148bhp under the bonnet, don’t expect it to match the performance of the equally powerful 1.5 TSI Seat Ateca or Skoda Karoq; while the Ateca and Karoq (and most rivals for that matter) use turbochargers to boost engine power, particularly at low revs, you’ll find no such device on the ASX.
Its engine will still pull from 1500rpm, but with far less vigour than any turbocharged rival. So you’ll need the engine spinning past 4000rpm if you want to swiftly overtake slow-moving traffic or blast up to speed on a short motorway slip road, which makes it more taxing to drive. And the ASX's ultimate performance is more in line with smaller 1.0-litre rivals; if you stick to the manual gearbox, 0-62mph takes a reasonable 10.2sec. Opt for the auto and the pace slackens to a downright sluggish 12.5sec.
If you opt for the automatic gearbox, it's not that responsive. Put your foot down from a standstill and the gearbox won't get you moving without having a good think about things first.
Suspension and ride comfort
Mitsubishi says the ASX’s comfort is a big selling point and, at first, this seems to ring true. However, while it deals with gently rolling roads with a pleasing waft, sharp shocks, such as those caused by patchy asphalt or expansion joints, aren't dealt with particularly well.
Hit a series of potholes, especially at speed, and the ASX doesn't soak them up very effectively and jostles you around as it struggles to retain composure. If comfort is your priority, the Nissan Qashqai or Skoda Karoq are much better options.
While the ASX doesn't impress with a cushy ride, its handling isn't sharp enough to make amends. It doesn't feel anywhere near as agile as the Seat Ateca, for instance. In fact, turn in to a corner moderately briskly and you’ll feel it leaning more markedly than most rivals will. To make matters worse, mid-corner bumps upset the ASX and push it slightly off your chosen line.
But the aspect of its handling that lets it down the most is the steering. It’s light enough to be easy in town, but it doesn't build enough reassuring weight in bends. Even if you’re driving slowly the steering’s vagueness can make it tricky to place the ASX exactly where you want it, and when you're cornering at faster speeds it suffers from terrible kick-back over bumps, which causes the steering wheel to squirm away in your hands. Grip levels are reasonable, but the front end will wash wide earlier than it will in many of its rivals.
However, for those who regularly trundle along muddy tracks or need a car that will cope with winter snow, the ASX has decent ground clearance and good approach and departure angles for dealing with uneven terrain, and the option of four-wheel drive adds valuable extra traction.
Noise and vibration
Try to accelerate even remotely briskly in the ASX and its intrusively coarse engine note and the accompanying vibrations through its floor will soon have you backing off the accelerator pedal in sympathy. It's a failing made worse by the fact that you have to rev the engine hard to get the most out of it. Remarkably, the engine noise is drowned out by the terrible wind noise from around its big door mirrors as speeds increase. There's a fair bit of road roar, too, so this is not a quiet motorway car, and its noisy suspension makes it crude in town.
The five-speed manual is the pick of the two gearboxes, but that’s partly because it’ll save you a big chunk of cash and it’s far from perfect. That's owing to the long and somewhat awkward throw between gears and a heavy clutch with a vague biting point.
It's bad news that you have to opt for the automatic if you want four-wheel drive; the ASX uses a CVT (constantly variable transmission) gearbox, and it isn't a great example of the breed. Even a gentle squeeze of your right foot sends the engine revs soaring noisily, which is a problem whenever you encounter even a moderate hill.
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