Mitsubishi’s got a secret weapon … and it’s under the bonnet of the new ASX

By Philip Hedderman
A classic case of out of sight, out of mind.
 
Yep, one of the greatest car manufacturers on the planet had simply dropped off our radar in recent years.
 
When I say our, I mean Irish, and Mitsubishi were in real danger of being forgotten – and for all the wrong reasons.
 
Now don’t fret, they didn’t experience a Toyota moment where cars were literally turning on their owners.
 
Far from it –  they were simply becoming victims of their own success elsewhere.
 
Taking your eye off the long game can cost you dearly.
 
Let me explain.
 
Mention the M brand and two things immediately spring to mind – heavy duty commercials and the legendary Evo.
The best 4X4s in the world became common place in golf club car parks and building sites across the country and kitted out Lancers gave street cred to LBRs (little boy racers) everywhere.
 
Both excelling in their own fields, but to the general car-buying public not exactly synonymous with family motoring.
But what is synonymous with MMC is reliability and longevity – two of the greatest factors punters consider when buying a car.
The boom is over and the demand for D4 tractors and high powered speed demons is not what it was.
 
It was time to get back to basics.
 
All they needed was a sexy new machine and a glitzy launch to remind us of their excellence.
Enter the all-new ASX, the crossover we wished we all had six short months ago when an inch of snow crippled the country.
On paper it ticks all the right boxes for those who want the ruggedness of an SUV and the family friendliness of a 5-door saloon.
Take the design for example.
 
It looks positively bombproof with waist-high muscular wheel arches and extra ground clearance.
And check out the yawning Basking Shark-like gob on her which looks like it could hoover up the M50 and all in its path.
 
It’s built like a tank too using high tensile steel to reduce weight while increasing stiffness.
 
Couple that with Mitsubishi’s  RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) system which strengthens doors, pillars and chassis to withstand  more in crash scenarios and you’re practically impenetrable.
 
And you’d right to be nervous with one of these on your tail as this baby is not one a girly ‘SUV-alike’.
Nope, it’s got proper 4X4 DNA with most of the lower structure, chassis and suspension coming from the tried and tested Outlander.
The ASX’s secret weapon though lies beneath the bonnet where the new 1.8 litre, 150bhp diesel heart beats.
The punchy and nippy common rail direct injection oil burner is perfect for around town and hums like a bird while cruising on a motorway.
 
It has enough torque to pull down a building and because it’s front wheel drive, will be perfect in snow and icy conditions.
 
It’s easy on the pocket too – returning 50mpg and annual road tax of €302.
The same four pot is powering the new Lancer (which we test next week) and judging its performance in a 2-tonne beast is going to be just awesome in the saloon.
 
There is also a lightweight 1.6 litre petrol version which delivers the lowest emissions in its class at a meagre 135g/km – placing it in Band B and just €156 a year to tax.
 
This comes as a welcome relief to many motorists who feel that diesels are being forced upon them by manufacturers who refuse to offer unleaded as an option for those doing low mileage.
 
And according to figures supplied by MMC the petrol is returning 47mpg (or (5.7l/100km) making it a no brainer when you factor in the a saving of almost €2,000 on list price and the difference of annual road tax.
 
It’s a pity the goodies list wasn’t as comprehensive.
 
Inside is the only place where the ASX disappoints.
 
It’s a little bare in the cockpit.
 
Steering wheel-mounted switches and Cruise Control would make life a lot easier as would the peace of mind of a spare wheel.
 
A repair kit and electric pump get won’t get you home if the wall of the tyre is damaged but half the manufacturers including BMW and Skoda have all made this move.
 
What it loses in driver gadgets it makes up for in space and comfort.
There is oceans of leg and head room for rear seat passengers and the boot is an impressive 419 litres which almost doubles with the back seats down. Perfect for a growing family.
So, if fancy wrapping is not your thing and you buy this crossover in the hope it’ll do its job where and when necessary, then it’ll be money well spent.
 
This 1.8 litre diesel engine will literally go forever and, to be fair, for a first attempt at a crossover … it’s pretty damn good. 
 
Prices for the ASX start at €23,675 for the 1.6 petrol (tax band B) and €25,550 for the diesel.

You can see a video that we made of the ASX right here YouTube