Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Although the ASX comes with a hearty 148bhp under the bonnet, don’t expect any of them to match the performance of the equally powerful 1.5 TSI Skoda Karoq or Seat Ateca. You see, while the Karoq and Ateca use turbochargers to boost power, particularly low in the rev-range, you’ll find no such device on the ASX.
Although the engine will happily start to accelerate the ASX from 1500rpm, there’s none of the low-down shove you get from a turbocharged rival. That means you’ll need the engine spinning past 4000rpm if you want to overtake safely or blast up to speed on a short motorway slip road. Even then, performance is more in line with 1.0-litre versions of the aforementioned rivals; if you stick to the manual gearbox, 0-62mph takes a reasonable 10.2sec. Opt for the auto and this drops to a downright sluggish 12.5sec.
Suspension and ride comfort
Mitsubishi says the ASX’s comfort is a big selling point and, at first, this seems to ring true. But, while it deals with gently rolling roads with a pleasing waft, sharp shocks, such as patchy asphalt or expansion joints aren't dealt with particularly well.
Not only are such shocks met by a loud thump from the suspension, but they jostle you around in your seat and reverberate through the car. Hit a series of potholes, especially at speed, and the ASX just can't soak them up very effectively and struggles to regain composure. If comfort is your priority, a Nissan Qashqai or Skoda Karoq are much better choices.
Given the squishiness of the ASX’s suspension, it should be no surprise to find its handling isn’t terribly sharp. Turn into a corner moderately briskly and you’ll feel it leaning more heavily than rivals do so it doesn't feel anywhere near as agile as an Ateca, for instance. To make matters worse, mid-corner bumps push you slightly off your chosen line.
But the aspect that lets it down the most is the steering. It’s light enough for town duties, but it doesn't build enough reassuring weight in bends. It also suffers from terrible kick-back that causes the steering wheel to squirm away in your hands when cornering. Even if you’re driving slowly, the steering’s vagueness can make it tricky to place the ASX exactly where you want it.
Grip levels are reasonable, but the front end will wash wide earlier in fast corners than it will in many rivals, such as the Karoq. If you do value nimbleness, the Seat Ateca remains the best handling family SUV in this price range. However, for those who regularly trundle along muddy tracks or need a car that will cope with winter snow, the four-wheel drive ASX adds valuable extra traction, while all models have decent ground clearance along with good approach and departure angles for dealing with uneven terrain.
Noise and vibration
Try to accelerate even remotely briskly in the ASX and its intrusively coarse engine note and accompanying vibrations through the floor will soon have you backing off the accelerator pedal in sympathy. That’s especially unfortunate considering how hard you have to rev the engine to access its performance potential. As speeds increase, though, the engine noise is drowned out by lots of wind noise around the big door mirrors, and a fair bit of road roar, too.
The five-speed manual is the pick of the two gearboxes, although that’s partially because it’ll save you a big chunk of cash. It’s far from perfect, owing to a long and somewhat awkward throw, a heavy clutch with a vague biting point and long gearing that can make keeping the engine revving highly enough for speedy acceleration tricky.
As for the auto – the only option if you want four-wheel drive – it hails from the bad old days of CVT (constantly variable transmission) gearboxes. It doesn’t like to accelerate from a standstill without having a good think about it first, and sends engine revs soaring noisily with even a small squeeze of your right foot, or a moderate hill. Acceleration is at least smooth, just slow and noisy, too.