Model/Engine size: ASX 3 1.8 D 2WD
Fuel economy combined: 51.4 mpg
Green-Car-Guide rating: 7/10
The Mitsubishi ASX is another crossover that is available in either two or four-wheel drive, and which promises greater levels of fuel efficiency than traditional 4x4s.
The ASX will mostly be sold in two-wheel drive form, so that’s the option that we tested, along with the 1.8 DiD diesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox.
The official combined figure for the 1.8 DiD 2WD is 51.4 mpg, with emissions of 145 g/km CO2. The 4×4 version is not too far off these figures, with 49.6 mpg and 150 g/km CO2. Even the petrol engine comes pretty close, with 47.1 mpg and 138 g/km CO2.
The ASX is based on the same platform as its bigger brother, the Outlander 4×4, but the idea is that the ASX is smaller and more car-like – although still with the raised driving position that buyers seem to like.
The ASX definitely has an efficiency focus, and the starting point is the new engine, which is the world’s first passenger car application of variable valve timing from a petrol engine to a diesel engine. The result is the performance and output of a larger capacity engine, but with class-leading economy and emissions.
However the eco tech doesn’t stop with the engine – the ASX also has features including Auto Stop & Go, electric power steering, low viscosity oil, and LED lighting.
In addition, it has a regenerative brake system (or Generation Control System – GCS). The GCS system regenerates power during braking or deceleration, and this charges the battery. The accumulated energy is then used when the car is idling, accelerating, or cruising. This reduces power generation at these times, resulting in the alternator load being reduced and fuel economy being improved.
The ASX also has tyres which use a specific compound and design that lower the rolling resistance – by about 5 % compared to those on the Outlander.
Finally, the ASX has been on a weight-saving diet, being 300 kg lighter than the Outlander, helped by features such as plastic front wings.
All these initiatives do translate to impressive fuel economy in real life. If you drive the ASX carefully it seems possible to achieve 60 mpg or more, but it certainly should average 50 mpg in normal driving.
Although this is just a two-wheel drive car, it has tyres which feature a decent amount of tread, and it has reasonable ground-clearance, resulting in the ASX coping well with mild excursions off the highway – or with poorly surfaced highways. The ride of the ASX is firm but comfortable, and although this is a reasonably tall car, it has some body roll but it’s not excessive.
The interior design is good and it generally feels solid; despite being smaller than the Outlander, the ASX is still spacious and is ideal for families. The rear seats fold flat to create a useful extra load space.
Equipment levels are good; standard equipment on all models includes alloy wheels, air conditioning, Auto Stop & Go, Active Stability Control and Traction Control, aux-in jack, keyless entry, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, dual stage front side and curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag, tilt and telescopic steering column.
The ASX 3, as tested, gains fully automatic air conditioning, one touch starting, cruise control, heated seats, privacy glass, audio wheel controls, Bluetooth, leather-covered steering wheel and gear knob, automatic lights and windscreen wipers, and chrome exterior detailing.
It’s also a fairly safe car, having gained a 5 star passenger and 3 star pedestrian rating in Euro NCAP crash tests.
The ASX has relatively low insurance levels and Mitsubishis are generally reliable.
It all sounds good so far, but there are a few aspects of the car that we’re not wild about. Firstly, we’re not huge fans of the car’s looks. The ASX’s bigger brother, the Outlander, is a good-looking car – the entire vehicle seems to have harmonious styling. However the ASX has a huge grille at the front from the Lancer, and mainly angular features, then the body styling goes softer and more rounded at the rear, which doesn’t seem that consistent or attractive. The latest Qashqai certainly looks better.
Although the engine is impressive from a flexibility and efficiency point of view, it can be quite noisy, especially under acceleration. It also has a sharp clutch, and the gearbox is slightly clunky, making it difficult to get through the gears quickly.
The levels of power and torque are good, but this does result in some torque-steer in this front-wheel drive form.
There’s also wind noise around the front pillars, something that is fairly unusual in modern cars.
Inside, the driver’s seat felt like it could benefit from more adjustment, the quality of some interior plastics doesn’t feel great, and the graphics on the dash showing the fuel level etc aren’t the best quality.
A final issue is the servicing interval – the diesel needs servicing every 9000 miles, which isn’t ideal.
The Mitsubishi ASX represents another choice for people who want a car that looks like a 4×4 but is more efficient. It has an excellent diesel engine that can be very economical if treated carefully, and it’s generally perfectly acceptable to drive. However it’s likely to struggle to get close to rivalling the sales of the Qashqai, and we now have other crossover contenders such as the MINI Countryman, which have more character.
The ASX gets a Green-Car-Guide rating of 7 out of 10; it’s a good effort, especially in terms of efficiency, but we fear that it’s just not sufficiently outstanding or exciting to make lots of people rush out and buy one. Despite this, it is fairly good value and it remains more interesting than most conventional family cars.
Fuel economy extra urban: 58.9 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 42.2 mpg
CO2 emissions: 145 g/km
Green rating: VED band F – first year £125
Weight: 1450 Kg
Company car tax liability (2010/11): 21%
Price: £18,729 (From £15,164 to £22,229)
Insurance group: 19
Power: 147 bhp
Max speed: 124 mph
0-62mph: 9.7 seconds