REVIEW | Buy it. Keep it. 2022 Mitsubishi ASX offers loads of value for money

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  • It's not the freshest car you can buy if you peer beneath its skin, but man, the ASX feels solid on the road.
  • The latest exterior design tweaks and spec upgrades make it a compelling choice in a bustling SUV segment.
  • Manual gearbox and clutch are a cinch to operate, with decent brake feel and compliant ride and handling.
  • For motoring news, go to Wheels24

Mitsubishi Motors South Africa revitalised its venerable ASX sport utility vehicle line-up earlier this year. You can only have it with a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine, a tried-and-tested powerplant that's powerful and frugal if you keep the revs under 3000rpm.

We took the new entry-level ES version with a five-speed manual gearbox for a test drive and were highly impressed at how Mitsubishi has refined the model over the years. After all, the ASX has been with us for about a decade (yes, there's been facelifts, but it has remained the same underneath), which you can tell when you look at its interior as it doesn't have that flamboyance of, say, the latest Stellantis products.

Despite a rather forgetful interior, the latest exterior styling of the ASX is stunning. It boasts the familiar bold grille and headlamp design language that you'll see in the Triton and Pajero Sport. You'll certainly turn heads in the ASX as far as looks and style go. 

2022 Mitsubishi ASX ES
2022 Mitsubishi ASX ES

Practical - it is built for the family

At 4295mm in length, 1770mm wide, 1625mm high and with a wheelbase of 2670mm, the Mitsubishi ASX offers ample space on the inside without being cumbersome to drive.

It comes with a good ground clearance of 195mm, giving you the ability to take on gravel roads without fear of bashing its belly on the ground. The healthy ride height also makes it a pleasure around town, as you can glide over speed bumps and through minor imperfections in the road with more confidence than you can in a sedan.

I also liked the trunk space on offer at 406 litres, which you can expand to 1206 litres if you fold the rear seatbacks flat. It's an ideal cargo volume for sports equipment, kids' school bags and gear, drones, camera equipment, and shopping. If you have a couple of kids, you will find its practical character appealing. It has this honest, no-frills feel to it.

I found it easy to load and unload the child seat, as the vehicle comes standard to ISOFIX mounting points. 

The ES version won't blow you away with connected technologies or advanced driver assistance systems, as it's an entry point into the ASX line-up. Still, it has more than enough features to ensure you feel comfortable and confident from the driver's seat.

2022 Mitsubishi ASX ES
2022 Mitsubishi ASX ES

Essential - it has the things you need

Expect standard-fit LED headlamps that work beautifully to illuminate the road at night. The LED daytime running lights also give it a nice premium look despite its budget-oriented price point. In fact, LED rear taillights also come standard on the ES version of the ASX - something you pay extra for in some premium cars.

I liked its audio system, although it does feel slightly dated. Fortunately, you can upgrade the ES model's head unit to one that accommodates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The speaker package is respectable, and you won't need to upgrade on an aftermarket level if you enjoy thumping music in your car.

READ: REVIEW | Renault's frugal diesel-powered Duster (and the mystery of the broken fuel gauge)

Expect electric windows and mirrors, three airbags, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, hill start assist, active stability and traction control systems, cruise control, keyless entry and engine start in the ES. Manual aircon works well, and there's a USB port for charging devices.

2022 Mitsubishi ASX ES
2022 Mitsubishi ASX ES

Powerful - it offers decent grunt, but can get thirsty

The Mitsubishi ASX range comes with only one engine choice - a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol four-cylinder that produces 110kW of power at 6000rm and 197Nm of torque at 4200rpm. 

Our five-speed manual ES test car was a joy to drive with this engine, as it offered enough pick up from low revs to keep up with traffic. You can quickly shift through the gears from a standstill, keeping the revs under 3000rpm for maximum fuel efficiency. I achieved 8 litres per 100km in a combined cycle after 200 kilometres of assessment. 

It's not the most petrol-efficient SUV you can buy in SA, but you will appreciate its meaty engine feel compared to a heavily strung, small-capacity turbo engine. There's this solidity to how the machine picks up revs and crescendos beyond 4000rpm.

You feel the trick MIVEC system coming on song as it revs to the redline like a Lancer Evo. I was surprised by the feistiness of the engine and the easy-to-throw gears. The ASX doesn't pull like an Evo, but you feel the petrol motor breathing harmoniously to deliver performance. I enjoyed driving the ASX in a sporty manner, which did nothing for fuel economy.

2022 Mitsubishi ASX ES
2022 Mitsubishi ASX ES

Is it worth buying?

Yes. If you want to spend less than R400 000 on something with robust build quality and technology that will work well past its warranty expiration, this is the car for you.

Driving the ASX ES, I was reminded of a time when we could buy cars, pay them off and keep them. A time when we didn't have to worry about expensive turbos going pop one day after the warranty expires. Or fancy cooling systems with five radiators that leak when you click 100 001km on the odo.

Sure, you can't brag around the braai about having the latest turbo engine, a fancy adjustable suspension system or radar-guided cruise control. Still, you can boast that the ASX is one of the most reliable cars Mitsubishi has ever made.

No frills. No fuss. It has what you need for a reasonable price of R371 995, and it comes with a three-year or 100 000km mechanical warranty and a three-year or 60 000km Service Plan.

If you drive an ASX, please let us know what the ownership experience is like in the comments section or email us here.

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