Mitsubishi unveils a sporty new contender

2011-09-24 09:03

Model: Mitsubishi ASX

Engine: 2.0 litre

Power: 110kW

Torque: 197Nm

Fuel consumption: 7.5 litres per 100km / 7.6 litres per 100km (CVT)

Pricing: from R279 900 to R319 900

Mitsubishi Motors South Africa, which is now under the control of automotive conglomerate Imperial, has just unveiled its latest contender to the local market – the new ASX.

Short for Active Sporty Crossover, the newcomer takes the fight straight to the likes of the Nissan Qashqai, the Dodge Caliber and the Jeep Compass.

With a strong family resemblance up front (you will almost surely mistake the ASX for an Outlander at first sight), its athletic design imparts sporty driving characteristics and a youthful personality.

The ASX is available in three model guises, all of which employ a 2.0-litre MIVEC petrol engine that produces 110kW and 197Nm. All models are front-wheel drive and available in two spec levels.

The range-topper is also available with a CVT automatic transmission (a five-speed manual is your other choice). While most people cringe when they hear “CVT”, this one is actually pretty good. Fuel consumption is claimed at 7.5 litres per 100km on manual models and just 7.6 litres on the CVT.

Once inside, you immediately feel at home. The design is pleasant with simple surfaces finished in good-quality materials with solid switch gear to boot. It’s simple, yes, but not boring.

Comfort levels are good and build quality very sturdy. As for features, there are many, especially in the range-topping CVT model.

Standard features include rear parking sensors, climate control, a leather steering wheel with satellite audio controls, electric windows all round,

17-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic glass roof (which has built-in LED lighting to create a warm glow at night), heated leather seats, automatic lights and wipers, a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system, a start/stop button and keyless entry.

Practicality is a large decision-influencing factor in the ASX’s segment and, in true Mitsubishi fashion, it doesn’t let you down.

With a large boot (442 litres or 1 193 litres with the seats folded) and ample leg and head room all round, you’ll find the car appropriate for almost everything.

And, with its safety credentials, it won’t disappoint whether you’re enjoying a Sunday blast on your favourite twisty road or just doing the school run.

Five Euro-NCAP stars were awarded to the ASX thanks to seven airbags and a host of acronymic additives, including Rise (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution), ABS (anti-lock braking system), ASC (anti-skid control), TCL (traction control) and HSA (hill-start assist).

Launching the new ASX in the Magaliesburg region, we had good opportunity to experience it on a variety of road environments.

It may be a two-wheel drive, but from a comfort and build-quality point of view, this vehicle performed well on dirt. You can’t go off-roading per se, but at least your teeth won’t fall out on the rutted gravel road between you and your favourite lunch spot out in the country.

On the open road, ride comfort is great and the handling is confident. Wind and road noise are at acceptable levels and, even with the CVT gearbox, engine noise levels are pleasingly low too.

The gearbox is, of course, beautifully smooth, even when in manual mode, but I would have liked to see steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles for that extra sporty touch.

Mitsubishi is confident about the ASX and, when driven, one can see why.

It’s a great addition to a popular segment and, with the brand’s strong credentials in the local market, should
do well.

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