Eastern Reporter Bayswater & Bassendean
A good tune on an old fiddle
IT is bemusing, possibly cringe-worthy, when an old player remains on the field and spars with much younger, potentially more gifted team members.
But the mood of spectators quickly changes to wonder when the decidedly older player unexpectedly starts kicking some serious goals and outpaces the more youthful rivals.
That’s the game call of Mitsubishi’s small SUV, the ASX, which is the bestselling vehicle in its class despite being 10 years old and coming up against an Aussie Rules oval full of more sprightly and fresher competitors.
A lot may be to do with pricing, offers and other means to boost the sales figures, but old models leapfrogging new models is still unusual.
Mitsubishi is keeping the ASX alive and hopefully relevant with a refresh consisting of some facial surgery, extra make-up, a neater cabin and a host of welcome features to greatly improve safety.
There’s even the option of more power and more model variants.
Prices rise from about $500 on the outgoing ASX but the value argument remains strong.
The ASX is taking on two roles as it partially replaces the Lancer sedan that ended production last year.
The new ASX is basically the same as the last model, changing sheet metal ahead of the windscreen, adding a new grille, front bumper and headlights, and at the back, new bumper.
Safety has been improved – with autonomous emergency braking now standard across the range – as has the infotainment system that now has sat nav as standard and displays through a bigger 8.0inch touchscreen.
Its appeal is likely to continue undiminished, primarily because of its appealing price that opens at $24,990, its inclusive driveaway charges, low ownership cost and then its sweet-spot size and accommodating interior with its high hip-point for ease of entry.
The GSR and top-line Exceed gain the 2.4-litre engine – a first for the ASX and borrowed from the Lancer and Outlander – for more emphasis on performance compared with the ongoing 2.0-litre mill.
Australia is the first right-hand-drive market to get the 2.4 and follows a request from Australia to Japan after viewing it in the US.
Mitsubishi has no plans to reinstate a diesel engine – dropped last year – or allwheel-drive. The take-up rate for AWD was less than 10 per cent.
On the road it’s too much like the old model.
Although the refresh will undoubtedly maintain the sales strength, technically the new ASX is not as dynamic to drive, as poised through corners or as comfortable over road bumps as most of its newer rivals.
The CVT automatic can force the engine – especially the smaller 2.0-litre – to drone, which doesn’t aid long-distance driving.
You would expect a noticeable leap from the 2.0litre to its 2.4-litre sister, but the accelerator pedal doesn’t relay any major improvement other than the latter’s more responsive acceleration.
However, if the buyer is determined to stay in the suburbs and doesn’t have to contend with hilly terrain, the 2.0-litre will be sufficient.
The strength is in urban situations where there’s sufficient low-down pep to keep the driver alert.
The hallmarks are its budget price and its nice cabin feel.
The cabin seats four adults with ease, the boot is a large 393 litres and expands further with folddown seat backs.
Aiming it at either end of the buyer age scale – young singles and couples and retirees – has prompted Mitsubishi to offer one of the least expensive service programs around, at $199 a year for the 15,000km service for the first three years.