• Spike Ballantine

Mitsubishi ASX 2.0 CVT

Car review Mitsubishi ASX 2.0 CVT crossover

It was quite interesting to watch the rise of the SUV, and how it managed to replace hatchbacks and sedans as the go-to option for a lot of people; and then how manufacturers of all kinds began to add SUVs to their line-ups, even after some of them vowed they wouldn’t. And it was similarly interesting to watch how the SUV spawned new models, which in themselves have become big business - things like the compact SUV and more specifically, the crossover. But, like so many things in the world of cars, a manufacturer adding a class of car that everybody loves to its lineup doesn’t automatically mean good things for that manufacturer. It’s

In South Africa, the Mitsubishi ASX crossover isn’t exactly a big seller, regularly being beaten up by the likes of the Kia Seltos and VW T-Cross. That said, everything that isn’t a Kia Seltos or VW T-Cross generally gets beaten up by the Kia Seltos and VW T-Cross. The lack of sales stardom isn’t necessarily down to the car itself, but is rather a result of there being so many competitors in the crossover corner of the market. For the R415 000 you might spend on an ASX, you could spend the same amount on a model from ten other manufacturers: Nissan, Hyundai, Opel, Suzuki, Toyota, Volkswagen, Subaru, Jeep, Kia and Mazda.

That’s a lot of noise to try cut through; which might be easier if you have a particularly strong style, but the ASX has never had a really stand out look. Sure, it’s been nice to look at, but at the same time, it’s been a bit generic in some ways, delivering the kind of design that was what you’d expect from a slightly bigger car with quasi-off road intentions.

Lately though, Mitsubishis of all types have been turning heads. Some punters will say it’s for the wrong reasons, but now that the new face of Mitsubishi has been applied to the ASX, and it’s made a huge difference. It’s gone from something that was a bit plain to something with real style.

It’s now leaner, more aggressive and a lot more attractive. Mitsubishi’s heavy chrome treatment on the front seems to suit the ASX almost better than any other of its cars. The only slight distraction is the front fog lights, arranged in a two by two stack in the far corners of the front bumper, below the headlights. It’s not so much the placement, but the design - they look a little bit like a small version of those glass bricks that were all the rage back in the 80’s.

Side on, the ASX has a strong shoulder line that runs from behind the front wheel arch to the rear of the car, where full LED taillights sit behind clear lenses; there’s a prominent rear diffuser and - again - the overall look is leaner and more attractive. For me, it’s a more interesting and cohesive look than the much more popular VW T-Cross, but then again, I’m not a fan of the T-Cross’ styling.

It’s perhaps a little unsurprising that the ASX’s new look is so different to the old one, because the old one has been around for about a decade. The new look is so different that it might have you thinking that this is the next gen ASX, but it is as extensive facelift. Well, on the styling front, anyway.

The interior changes have been far less dramatic, with a focus primarily on better tech. There’s now USB connectivity, and the new 8” touchscreen on top of the centre stack controls an infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. They’ve kept a good list of standard kit that includes a panoramic roof, cruise control, keyless operation and reversing camera, and there’s an upgraded full leather finish for the seats.

The rest of the cabin remains the same, with good space all round and load space that’s on par with anything else in its class.

There have been no changes or additions to the ASX’s drivetrain, and the lineup remains limited. That means you get a 2.0 naturally aspirated motor that puts out 110kW / 197Nm, with the choice of either a 6-speed manual or CVT gearbox. We’re driving the more expensive CVT; it’s exactly the same setup as the Eclipse Cross.

While CVT gearboxes are generally awful, the setup in the ASX isn’t too bad. It will get noisy when you some power demands, but it soon settles down again and is generally far less annoying than other CVT options. Unlike the Eclipse Cross, there are no shift paddles in the ASX, which is not great shame - they’re more a gimmick than a truly useful part of the setup anyway.

The power in the ASX is pretty unsurprising, really - nothing fantastic, but also not disappointing. If anything, it feels a little more capable than the Eclipse Cross, but there’s no real accounting for it, considering the the ASX weighs only around 70kg less. Power is to the front wheels only, there is no all-wheel drive version. The power delivery makes for an easy drive, as long you’re not too enthusiastic. If you’re looking for something sporty, you can hold out for Mitusbishi’s 1.5 turbo petrol motor, which is in the Eclipse Cross, but is only “under investigation” for the local market, according to Mitsubishi SA.

The ride setup is a good mix of comfort and confidence - again, as long as you don't get too enthusiastic.

A first look at the updated Mitsubishi ASX might have you hoping that is has something unique to offer, beyond the styling. But in truth, most of the effort has gone into the looks, and apart from a few interior tweaks, the rest of the package has stayed pretty much the same. That’s not a criticism because the ASX isn’t a bad drive, and it’s not a bad package - for the same money you might choose to spend with 10 manufacturers, you get the same sort of value. One of the reasons the ASX get beaten up by the likes of the T-Cross and Seltos is because of its limited range. But unless you particularly want a turbo motor, or want to avoid CVT gearbox, the Mitsubishi ASX is worth checking out.

Mitsubishi ASX 2.0 CVT spec and price

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