The six-speeder is well suited to the torquey diesel and comes with long fifth and sixth ratios for low-rev highway cruising that cuts fuel consumption.
I averaged 6.7 litres/100km which included a run to Innisfail, up the Palmerston Highway, through the Misty Mountain muddy trails and back to Cairns via Kuranda, as well as some commuting.
In many ways, it’s like driving a Lancer sedan but the ASX handles just like a top-heavy hatchback. It tends to lean noticeably around corners and there’s a lack of lateral seat support, but it never feels untidy or uncomfortable and it corners predictably.
There’s also decent grip from the 17in road-biased tyres, although they generate plenty of noise, even around town.
Steering kickback over mid-corner bumps is less welcome. The ride is also lumpy at low speeds, despite the suspension set-up’s bias towards comfort, only becoming more relaxed and composed as the pace quickens.
Mid-range torque is the diesel’s party trick and it can be hauled out and exploited for rapid overtaking times – even in top gear. It also makes a few gear changes redundant so you find corners are taken in third or even fourth. It’s comfortable, quiet and compliant. The ASX travels on the dirt quite well. I left it in 4WD Auto for the 20km run through the Misty Mountains and it didn’t put a wheel wrong despite the wet and muddy conditions.
What a surprise. The ASX is good enough in diesel format to attack, not only its compact SUV rivals, but its Outlander brother too.
There are some gripes, like the tinny sounding doors, the poor rearward visibility and an annoying buzzing noise from the passenger door-pull handle.
But overall it’s a good thing, well-built model, with a great five-year warranty, half-decent driving manners and a great interior.
It’s quiet, reasonably brisk and economical and has nicely-balanced looks.
There’s heaps of equipment and apart from the turbo-lag drives smoothly.
Just drop the ASX name and adopt Aspire and Mitsubishi has a sure fire sales winner.
>> TEST VEHICLE COURTESY OF IRELAND MITSUBISHI, MULGRAVE RD, WESTCOURT, PH: 4052 3666