5

10

Model

DiD 2.2

Price

$31,990

The Numbers

2268cc, 4cyl diesel, 4WD, 110kW, 360Nm 5.8L/100km 0-100km/h N/A, max N/A 1530kg

The Topgear Verdict

Does everything you want and does it fairly well. But it’s in desperate need of a modern overhaul, though.

2013 Mitsubishi ASX DiD 2.2

Trying to successfully sell a family car without an automatic transmission is like trying to win a marathon without legs. It’s a near impossible task, and it beggars belief why some would even attempt it. But still it’s taken a number of manufacturers years to realise that in between screams of “Are we there yet?” and being kicked in the back of their driving seats, mums and dads don’t actually want to change gears themselves.

So now Mitsubishi has given its ASX compact SUV (a market that’s expanding more rapidly than Kirstie Alley’s waistline) an automatic gearbox to go with its diesel-engine models. The soon-to-be-phased-out 1.8-litre oiler could only be had with a six-speed manual, but will now

be steadily replaced with a 2.2-litre engine (officially that’s what it’s called, even though it actually displaces 2268cc) mated to a six-speed automatic. Like the 1.8, it still puts out 110kW, but torque has been upped to 360Nm.

Besides this, not much else has changed. You still get what you expect from an ASX: five seats, decent boot space and ground clearance for what it is, a five-star ANCAP rating and a strong fuel economy figure of 5.8L/100km. The $31,990 base-spec model is fairly spartan and it’s only when you upgrade to the $36,490 Aspire trim that the ASX starts to resemble a car built in

the 21st century. It gets you such extras as 17-inch alloy wheels (16s on the base), an engine start button, sun roof, touchscreen infotainment, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights and heated front seats. Sat-nav is still left as an option, however.

But this new model is all about the gearbox, which has one job to do. Does it do it well? Not entirely. It’s smooth enough on upshifts, but when climbing steep gradients it often refuses to kick down through the gears, forcing the engine to labour at low rpm and burning your ears with a grating, dieselly engine note. With the assistance of a downward slope, though, the ASX can be quite fun. Surprisingly, quick chucks into bends see it grip like UHU without inducing the fear of understeer into the guard rails.

There’s also a 4WD function as standard for those family bush bashes. It has three modes: FWD only, 4WD auto, which leaves the drive split for the computer to sort out, and 4WD lock, which keeps the front-rear drive split at roughly 50/50.

Some bad news for the ASX is that it’s entering a market more populated than Essendon’s pharmaceutical cabinet. Rivals include the Hyundai ix35, Subaru XV and Nissan Dualis, so the ASX has its work cut out. Let’s see how this marathon unfolds.

Reviewed by: Tim Booth

Driven: August 23, 2013