Mitsubishi ASX4 Compact SUV first drive

Mitsubishi ASX4 Compact SUV More specification, more performance but much less money to buy one is the headline for the arrival of the revised Mitsubishi ASX 2014 range of two and four wheel drive, five door, five seater, mid-sized crossover.

 

Toby Marshall, Mitsubishi’s Sales and Marketing Director said at the media launch, “The prices of the better equipped ASX models are 9 to 10% lower than the 2013 models they replace despite having between £700 and a £1,000 worth of added specification. Prices now start at £14,999 for the 1.6-litre petrol 2WD model and rise to £23,899 for the newly added 2.2-litre turbodiesel with a much in demand automatic gearbox.”

He said, “When we first introduced the ASX in 2010 with 1.6-litre petrol and 1.8-litre turbodiesel engines we sold 8,000 units in its first year. Then came the global recession which not only hit us in the UK but manufacturers worldwide. A major issue for us, as we pay for our vehicles in Pounds, was the slump of its value against the Japanese Yen.”

“Up until the end of July 2012 the Pound lost 21.4% of its value and that made the vehicles we import more expensive than we had planned. This in turn reduced the Marketing budget we could spend for advertising, promotion and PR activities to support the ASX and other models in the range. The good news is that since August last year the Pound has gradually risen in value by up to 35%. That means we can plan for 2014, our 40th anniversary year of UK sales, to spend more on dealer support and recruitment and Marketing support but most of all we have managed to reduce the prices of most of our models, especially the revised ASX.”

“With new and higher specification, better quality interiors, improved ride comfort and the availability of an automatic model requested by our customers and dealers, especially around the London area means we will increase sales from 3,500 units this year to over 4,500 units in 2014.”

He added, “In terms of overall performance the brand has recovered from just 12,000 new vehicle sales in 2012 to around 16,000 units in 2013 and we are targeting a further 25% increase in 2014. The new ASX range will be a big part of that growth. In 2013 we have been the fastest growing mainstream brand in the UK with sales up by 42% and we expect to reach 30,000 annual registrations in the next four years. Currently we are recruiting additional dealers, we have appointed eight in the last three months and we have a target in the next year so to grow our network to around 130 dealers.

In terms of which ASX models will be the most popular Toby Marshall said, “We expect the 1.6 petrol 2WD versions to account for 50% of sales, the 1.8 turbodiesel 2WD/4WD versions 20% and both have manual gearboxes. The new 2.2-litre turbodiesel 4WD, available only with a 6-speed automatic gearbox, should take 30% of total ASX UK sales.”

He added that in the UK’s C-segment of crossover models 2WD versions are the choice of 90% of UK buyers. But with Mitsubishi having a long history of 4WD sales with Shogun, Outlander, ASX and L200 Double/Single Cab pick-ups we expect that 50% of ASX customers will choose a 4WD version. The demand for an automatic transmission is around 19% in this sector so the new 2.2-litre automatic model with its one high level of specification and predicted 30% take-up of ASX sales will be ahead of the competition.

Test Drive Views
The revised 2014 model year Mitsubishi ASX, five door compact crossover range comes to market with prices reduced by between 9 and 10% thanks to the 35% increase in the value of the British Pound against the Japanese Yen over the last 16 months. Improved levels of specification, a higher quality to the interior and improved ride comfort are also part of the upgrades.

Mitsubishi ASX4 Compact SUV Mitsubishi ASX4 Compact SUV In addition the new line-up sees the introduction by public demand of an automatic transmission and this is mated with a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine, the same combination as used in the larger Outlander SUV range.

The other engine options of 1.6-litre petrol and 1.8-litre turbodiesel both with 6-speed manual gearboxes remain in the 2014 range. The 115bhp petrol unit is available only with 2WD with prices starting at just £14,999, they were £16,499. The 114bhp turbodiesel models are available with 2WD and 4WD options with prices ranging from £18,750 to £22,499 rather than £20,599 and £24,895 of the previous comparable versions. The new top of the range 2.2-litre, 147bhp turbodiesel 4WD automatic costs £23,899 with its top level ASX4 specification against its original predicted price of £26,295.

The petrol version is available with ASX2/ASX3 levels of spec, the 1.8 diesel ASX3/ASX4 levels and the new 2.2 diesel ASX4 only. Mitsubishi offer their three year Service Plan for the range at £450 for the petrol models and £650 for the diesels. Over 90% of Mitsubishi customers take-up this option. The ASX is covered by a three year unlimited mileage warranty and three years pan-European breakdown assistance plus a 12 year anti-corrosion warranty.

For the media launch the ASX test drive vehicles were only available with the new top of the range specification - the 2.2-litre, 4WD, automatic available with the one high level ASX4 level of spec which is expected to account for 30% of the 4,500 ASX sales in the UK in 2014.

All ASX versions have a high spec level with alloy wheels, air conditioning, active stability control, traction control, remote keyless entry, seven airbags and Bluetooth and of course electric windows and door mirrors, sound system and much more. ASX3 adds 17-inch alloys, climate control, push-button start, parking sensors, front fog lights, cruise control, auto lights and wipers and heated front seats. When we get to ASX4 the spec is really high and the additions include reversing camera, leather upholstery, Kenwood integrated sat/nav and sound system and a huge panoramic glass roof.

Getting into the ASX4 model the improvement in quality is immediately noticeable. Gone is the hard but durable plastic trim and in have come soft-feel surfaces and a much higher quality of leather upholstery. The layout remains much the same, the only negative point I found were the fiddly controls of the Kenwood sat-nav/info system and its small screen compared with the new generation ‘tablet’ type units now commonplace on many European brands.

Another noticeable improvement, as promised by Mitsubishi, is ride comfort. A revised suspension system has improved ride comfort considerably. The impacts from potholes are less harsh and intrusive and overall the system is very compliant and comfortable. Perhaps some more eager drivers might find it a little soft which incurs some cornering bodyroll but most owners will approve of the new set up. With the larger 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine now fitted the latest ASX feels more ‘nose-heavy’ than the small engine versions. In many ways that isn’t a bad thing because it gives better cornering grip and better steering feedback. I think it improves the balance of the car.

The engine and automatic transmission we know from the Outlander SUV with 147bhp but more importantly 266lb ft (360Nm) of torque delivered from only 1,500rpm so engine response is first class and really flexible right through the power range. The 6-speed INVECS II auto gearbox is one of those which learns and constantly adapts to your driving style. But that doesn’t stop it being slow-ish for gear changes because we have become used to fast response twin-clutch auto boxes. I soon got used to it but initially it just seemed to be a step backwards in technology. The well known Mitsubishi 4WD system is fitted with its 4WD push-button selector for the three modes, 2WD, 4WD auto and 4WD Lock, all very easy and obvious to use.

Mitsubishi ASX4 Compact SUV Mitsubishi ASX4 Compact SUV In terms of performance top speed is 118mph and zero to 62mph takes 10.8 seconds. On my Cotswold country roads driving session this version of the ASX felt fast and very responsive yet on motorways it felt very relaxed at the legal maximum cruising speed. The power/torque and the ASX’s lightweight construction really work well together. The 2.2-litre capacity of the engine might make potential customers think twice as the volume sales sectors of the new car market are dominated by downsizing. In reality a bigger engine has to work less hard so they can be very fuel efficient and are generally nicer to drive. Officially this model will return 48.7mpg in the Combined Cycle and my test drive was not too far short of that at 45.1mpg and I wasn’t using any ‘eco’ driving methods. With CO2 emissions of 153g/km VED road tax is a not prohibitive £175 a year and company car drivers will pay 25% in Benefit-in-Kind tax. The insurance group rating is 20E.

Overall the revised ASX lives up to what Mitsubishi claims for it. It is significantly cheaper than outgoing versions, it is better equipped, it has a much higher quality ‘feel’ about it, it is more comfortable, it drives well and the addition of an automatic gearbox will bring in more customers. It’s a win-win product for Mitsubishi and their customers.

MILESTONES. 2014 Mitsubishi ASX4 Compact SUV 2.2 DI-D 4WD Automatic. Price: £23,899. Engine/transmission: 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder direct injection turbodiesel/intercooler, 147bhp, 266lb ft of torque from 1,500rpm, 6-speed automatic with selectable 4WD modes. Performance: 118mph, 0-62mph 10.8 seconds, 48.7mpg Combined Cycle (45.1mpg on test), CO2 153g/km, VED road tax £175, BIK company car tax 25%. Insurance group: 20E.
Dimensions/capacities: L 4,295mm, W 1,770, H 1,615, 5-seats, boot/load space 416 to 1,193-litres. Warranty: 3-years unlimited mileage. For: New low pricing across the range, much improved interior quality, higher equipment levels, improved ride comfort, greater engine performance linked with a much requested auto gearbox. Against: Fiddly controls of the Kenwood infotainment system, no audible rear parking sensors on this version, slow gearchanges from the auto box.  Miles Better News Agency

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