7.3/10Score

Score breakdown

7.5

Safety, value and features

8.0

Comfort and space

7.0

Engine and gearbox

7.0

Ride and handling

7.0

Technology

Things we like

  • It’s properly huge inside
  • Looking good in its old age
  • Long warranty and servicing program

Not so much

  • Uninspiring drive
  • Bitty interior
  • Fuel economy

7.3/10Score

Score breakdown

7.5

Safety, value and features

8.0

Comfort and space

7.0

Engine and gearbox

7.0

Ride and handling

7.0

Technology

Things we like

  • It’s properly huge inside
  • Looking good in its old age
  • Long warranty and servicing program

Not so much

  • Uninspiring drive
  • Bitty interior
  • Fuel economy

Mitsubishi’s ASX is that truly evergreen car. It’s been with us now since 2010, has been made all over the world and was even been used as the basis for a Peugeot and a Citroen.

It used to be the smallest of Mitsubishi’s triumvirate of SUVs all running on the same platform, with bigger bodies and interiors to suit different needs.

Having outlived the old Outlander, which has been reborn into a vastly better car, the ASX was supposed to be supplanted by the Eclipse Cross but Mitsubishi’s plans were undone by customers, so the newer car was made slightly larger and sent upmarket.

Brands from far and wide have taken on the ASX, but none have successfully taken and held the popularity crown among top-selling compact SUVs in Australia over the last decade.

Now it seems the tide is turning, albeit ever so slowly, with MG, Hyundai and Mazda all conspiring – along with supply constraints – to relegate the ASX to third rung of the segment sales charts during the first six months of 2022.

It must surely be nearing the end of the marathon. Its last facelift in 2020 put a thoroughly modern face on this long-lasting machine while keeping most of what has kept it in the game the same.

Brands from far and wide have taken on the ASX, but none have successfully taken and held the popularity crown

Pricing and features

The ASX GSR spec level has been with us for a couple of years and resurrects an old nameplate from the 1980s, last seen on the hatch of one of the first cars with adaptive damping ever to go on sale here, the Galant GSR. It’s a sort of black-pack-meets-vaguely-sporty, kind of like Mazda’s SP trim level.

On the ASX, that means a dark tint and dark alloys while black finishes have been lavished on the grille, roof rails and rear spoiler. It certainly stands out in the $740 Sunshine Orange, one of five colours at that price with two more at $940 and just one freebie, predictably white.

At $31,990 before on-road costs, the GSR sits towards the top of the price range of the various ASX variants available but is placed firmly in the middle for specification.

You get 18-inch alloy wheels, a six-speaker stereo, climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto LED headlights with auto high beam, leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear selector, power windows all round, auto wipers and a space-saver spare.

The sparsely-featured media system comes up on an 8.0-inch touchscreen and the two forward USB-A ports facilitate connection with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Screen hardware is quite good, so the phone connections work without drama. You also get DAB+ digital radio, but it’s not very well organised and therefore really not much fun to use.

For such an old car, the safety package is pretty good. You get seven airbags (including a driver’s knee airbag), blind-spot monitoring, forward auto emergency braking (up to 80km/h), forward collision warning, lane departure warning and reverse cross-traffic alert.

There are also two ISOFIX points and three top-tether anchors for child seats.

ANCAP awarded the ASX five stars in 2014, however, the rules are much tighter now and the safety specification much leaner in 2014. So while the feature list has grown in the last eight years, without a centre-front airbag, it’s unlikely the ASX would retain its five-star rating today.

Comfort and space

One of the ASX’s calling cards is space and lots of it.

For a car that really isn’t all that big – 4.3 metres long isn’t small, no, but it’s not humungous either – the interior space is impressive.

Kicking off with the boot, you start at 393 litres, which isn’t far off what I’m sure is the segment’s biggest (Kia’s Seltos, if you’re interested).

Fold down the 60:40 split seats and you’ll have 1143 litres to fill. The hatch opening is pretty wide and while the load lip will be a little high for smaller folk and there is a small drop of about five centimetres behind it, the floor itself is flat.

Stepping into the rear, there is loads of legroom for a car this size, again, among the best in its class. The seat itself is reasonably well padded and shaped and there’s even an armrest, something a few of the ASX’s rivals think you can go without (that’ll be the Kia Seltos again).

The armrest also means there’s a pair of cup holders, but there is where the inspiration ends as there are no rear vents (also not unusual). However, two USB-C ports have appeared in the rear of the centre console for MY22.

Moving to the front, you have soft if supportive seats and an oddly small steering wheel, which adjusts for rake and reach.

This is where the car really feels and looks its age – it has been on sale now for more than a decade – and though near-annual touch-ups have improved things, the ASX interior has never really been properly refreshed. It’s simple and straightforward, though, and everything is within easy reach.

Stepping into the rear, there is loads of legroom for a car this size, again, among the best in its class.

You have a pair of cup holders between the seats, a shallow tray good for losing your phone in and bottle holders in the doors. The materials in the GSR are well-chosen, but you do miss out on the nicer version of fake suede in the higher models. That said, you can’t have everything at this price.

The GSR picks up some red stitching and fake leather on the seats and a darker interior theme that works quite well.

You can tell it’s getting on a bit, though. While the central part of the console looks quite modern, the older parts flanking it are made of expanses of grey, thin-looking plastic. Hardy, probably, attractive, not so much.

On the road

Over the years the ASX has had a range of powertrains, but these days it’s a 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder (available with a manual in entry-level ES trim) whereas higher-spec versions like the GSR have 2.4-litre petrol four.

Apart from the sole manual, all variants have an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Every ASX is front-wheel drive these days (once upon a time there were diesel all-wheel drive options). The 2.4 spins up 123kW and 222Nm, which is high-ish for the segment, but not out of the bounds of sensibility nor exactly powerful.

And as is the case with similarly-powered cars in the segment, it’s all perfectly adequate. While neither engine nor gearbox are the last word in modernity, both have proven reliable and drama-free over the many units sold during the many years on sale.

The CVT actually has quite an aggressive tune for getting off the line, which makes it feel a bit quicker than it is, with a little wriggle of torque steer on all but the smoothest surface. You’ll even get the inside wheel spinning if you’re launching into traffic.

Under light throttle and while cruising, the engine is commendably quiet, a fact brought into sharp focus if you floor the throttle. As the CVT has a kind of rubber band effect, a sustained pedal-to-carpet application means the engine holds at the optimum point for maximum power, which means a fair bit of noise. Lifting off silences the buzz and it goes back to its quiet self.

The body will roll in corners, too, as the car is set up reasonably softly to deal with its likely very urban life.

For the most part, the ride is settled but the suspension can get a bit confused over rough surfaces with a series of small bumps close together. Larger bumps move the body quite a bit, but it’s not concerning.

Under light throttle and while cruising, the engine is commendably quiet, a fact brought into sharp focus if you floor the throttle.

Bridgestone Ecopia low-rolling-resistance tyres offer up reasonable amounts of grip in the wet and dry. They’re surprisingly noisy over some surfaces though, which is a bit of a shame given the relative overall quietness of the car. The brakes feel pretty good and nice to use but the steering is quite remote. It’s light, which makes it easy in town and while parking.

The bottom line is that the ASX isn’t a driver’s car. If you like driving – and let’s be honest, a lot of people don’t – it’s probably not the compact SUV for you. To be fair, while this is a segment packed with quality, it’s not packed with driver’s delights.

An official combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 7.9L/100km has always been a dream on the ASX and, as with all previous attempts, the best I could manage was 11.9L/100km.

Ownership

Mitsubishi’s headline 10-year, 150,000km warranty beats pretty much everything on the market as long as you’re not a high-miler.

If you do bust the “limit” you’re still entitled to a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is still good going, if no better than the current industry standard.

Alongside the decade-long warranty is a capped-price servicing program for the duration. Seven of the 10 services – which come up every 12 months or 15,000km – are priced at $299, with the sixth, eighth and 10th jumping to $599 each.

Over the life of the program, that works out to $3890 or $389 per service, which isn’t bad at all.

VERDICT

The ASX is a car that will fit your family and is fit for a family, with space, ease and low running costs.

The ASX is unashamedly about solid transport. It looks pretty good these days, the 2020 facelift adding the more distinctive Dynamic Shield front end and a more modern rear with the LED lighting.

In GSR trim it ups the game with the blacked-out bits and pieces inside and out, adding a bit of toughness but highlighting the ASX’s better angles.

Where it really scores is in ease of use and ease of ownership. The advantage to buying a car that has been on sale in basically the same form for over a decade is that the bugs are well and truly squashed.

In GSR spec in particular, it’s nicely judged, with all the things people say they want in a car and nothing that goes in the “I’d have it but won’t pay for it” basket.

And with that long warranty, it’s the kind of car you can throw your budget at and know that Mitsubishi will stick by you for a long time.

It’s a car that will fit your family and is fit for a family, with space, ease and low running costs.

2022 Mitsubishi ASX GSR specifications

Body: 5-door, 5-seat small SUV
Drive: front-wheel
Engine: 2.4-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: automatic continuously variable
Power: 123kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 222Nm @ 4100rpm
Bore stroke (mm): 83.0 x 97.0
Compression ratio: 10.5 : 1.0
0-100km/h: 11 sec (estimate)
Fuel consumption: 7.9L/100km (combined)
Weight: 1398kg
Suspension: MacPherson strut front / multi-link rear
L/W/H: 4365mm/1810mm/1640mm
Wheelbase: 2670mm
Brakes: ventilated disc front / solid disc rear
Tyres: 225/55 R18 Bridgestone Ecopia
Wheels: 18-inch alloy (space-saver spare)
Price: $31,990 + on-road costs

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