Tow­nand coun­try

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

Mit­subishi’s value SUV is equally handy lug­ging fur­ni­ture or lop­ing through a for­est

NEIL DOWLING

neil.dowling@cars­guide.com.au COMPACTSUVs­may present as rugged ad­ven­turema­chines to take you and the girl, the fam­ily, your mates or your dog into a realm be­yond suburbia. In fact, thatSUVis more likely a hatch­back with an even box­ier body and the off-road acu­men of aTour de France bike.

So it’s pleas­ing that Mit­subishi builds a pur­pose­ful SUVthat’s as com­fort­able in the city as it is on a for­est trail.

VALUE

TheASX4WDAspire 2.2 is the most ex­pen­sive of the small­est Mit­subishiSUVrange and though its $36,490 price tag is cer­tainly not cheap, it is fair value given its ver­sa­til­ity and low run­ning costs. Abase ver­sion saves $4500 but the Aspire is bet­ter value. A1.8-litre diesel ver­sion is $34,990 and al­most as good. The Aspire fea­tures in­clude a 7-inch colour touch­screen with sat­nav, voice-ac­ti­vated au­dio and Blue­tooth link, leather seats, smart-key op­er­a­tion, heated front seats with elec­tric ad­just­ment, 17-inch al­loys and a full-length glass roof.

There’s a four-year capped­price ser­vice pro­gram that will cost $1245 for three years and theSUVhas a strong 54 per cent re­sale value.

DE­SIGN

TheASXlooks so good that Peu­geot (4008) and Citroen (Air­cross) use it as the ba­sis for their own­mod­els. Cabin de­sign is re­strained but shows good build qual­ity. Soft-touch dash and up­mar­ket trim lift this­model and the glass roof is a real bonus.

There’s good rear-seat room for two adults— three at a pinch— and the split-fold seats fold al­most flat, tak­ing lug­gage space from416L to 1109L. The cargo floor is quite high and hides a space-saver spare.

TECH­NOL­OGY

De­spite its com­pact ex­te­rior di­men­sions, theASXuses the big­ger Out­lander’s plat­form and driv­e­train. Ba­si­cally, the dif­fer­ence comes down to body shape and the Out­lander’s ex­tra 350mm­length al­lows for seven seats.

The shared 110kW/360Nm 2.2-litre turbo diesel is nat­u­rally perkier in the 80kg lighterASX and with the six-speed auto (not CVTas in petrolmod­els) it be­comes a fun pack­age. It claims 5.8 L/100km, the same as the Out­lander and only 0.1 L more than the ASX’s al­ter­na­tive 1.8-litre diesel.

TheASXis ba­si­cally an on­de­mand4WDthough uniquely in com­pactSUVs, can be locked in­to4WDat speeds up to about 100km/h.

Steer­ing is elec­tric-as­sist and brakes are four-wheel discs.

SAFETY

It gets a five-star crash rat­ing, has seven airbags and the full com­ple­ment of elec­tronic chas­sis and brake aids. There are Isofix points on the two rear seats, a hill-holder, space-saver spare and the abil­ity to change to con­stan­tAWDat vir­tu­ally any speed if the road be­comes slip­pery. There’ are au­to­matic head­lights and wipers, a re­verse cam­era and rear park sen­sors.

DRIV­ING

The seat­ing po­si­tion is high, which gives the driver some con­fi­dence, es­pe­cially when park­ing and pick­ing a line through traf­fic. Typ­i­cal of a diesel, there is some start-up lag and when ac­cel­er­at­ing quickly froma low speed. It’s not as bad as some ri­vals but re­mains an­noy­ing.

Once awo­ken, the engine shows its best per­for­mance only about 2000-3000rp­mand is at odds with the claim that a meaty360N­mof torque is avail­able from1500rpm. Pad­dle-shifters are a nice touch but rarely used.

Ride com­fort is very good— same ap­plies to the Out­lander— though some oc­cu­pants claimed the seats were too firm. In the dirt it re­quires­mo­men­tum and low-tyre pres­sures to clear sandy traps. A bet­ter torque spread lower in the rev range­would help here.

VER­DICT

Sur­pris­ingly ac­com­plished and fru­gal fam­i­lySUV­for peo­ple

cFash­ion for­ward ... the ASX has soft-touch dash, up­mar­ket trim and full-length glass roof. Peu­geot and Citroen share its un­der­pin­nings

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