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Mitsubishi ASX

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Mitsubishi ASX
7/10

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Road Test

Mitsubishi ASX 1.8 DiD driven

Driven September 2010

Additional Info

The Mitsubishi ASX is not a car. It's an ‘Active Sports X-over', to give it the full marketing speak. Designed to take on the Qashqai in the mushrooming crossover market, it's roughly the same size and will go on sale at just a shade less than the Nissan. Like the Qashqai, you can choose a four-wheel-drive version, and - like the Qashqai - about 80 per cent of buyers won't bother, and will go for the front-wheel-drive model.

Although they look dimensionally similar, the ASX beats the Nissan for roominess. Mitsu has put it on exactly the same wheelbase as the larger Outlander, then pruned bits from either end. At its core is a spacious cabin, with 32 litres more bootspace than the Qashqai. And despite being narrower and only marginally lighter than the Nissan, it suffers from less top-heavy lolloping. This is especially noticeable over speedbumps, where the ASX feels low and car-like rather than lofty and SUV-like.

Good first impressions then, especially when you consider that Mitsubishi is a bit of a big-and-rugged car specialist. One-third of its sales are mopped up by the L200 pick-up truck, with a substantial chunk of the rest going to Shoguns and Outlanders. But along with the all-electric iMiev and cheeky little Colt, future Mitsus are looking more urban-chic than mud'n'peat.

Back to the ASX. Two engines will be available: a 1.6-litre petrol with 115bhp, and the 1.8-litre DiD with 147bhp that we've driven here - the first diesel to get variable valve timing. The upshot is a lower compression ratio, which means the engine's less stressed and can idle at just 600rpm.

This is good for the power/efficiency balance. The diesel emits 145g/km CO2, which puts it mid-table in the class emissions league. The equivalent Qashqai betters it with 129g/km, but the ASX has a third more power, which seems like a reasonable flipside to the poorer emissions. Performance is breezy, which adds to the generally satisfying driving experience.

You can make your own mind up about the styling, but with that ‘jet-fighter' nose pinched from the Evo and other neat and aggressive lines, it's a bit of a looker - much sharper than the unshapely Qashqai. Nissan has just tidied things up with a facelift, but for us, the ASX has the smarter edge.

So it might be a copycat, but it's a fine one. The ASX is one of those cars that doesn't do anything radical, but it does most things well. We'd like to see a more welcoming cabin - Mitsubishi claims the plastics are soft-touch, but felt about as squidgy as Formica to us. However, the use of space and funky design are impressive, and enough reason to choose one over a Qashqai. Job done for Mitsubishi? Reckon so.

Dan Read

On your drive for: £457pcm
Performance: 0-62mph in 9.7secs, max speed 124mph, 51.4mpg
Tech:  1798cc, 4cyl, FWD, 148bhp, 221lb ft, 1450kg, 145g/km CO2

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