What is it?
Australia’s top-selling small SUV, the Mitsubishi ASX is popular for its spacious interior, comfortable ride and, most of all, good value in terms of pricing and features.
We’re driving the top-spec ASX Exceed which retails for $32,990 but, Mitsubishi offers a fixed driveaway price of $35,740.
This is one of the better equipped SUVs in its price range and is now powered by a more strong 2.4-litre engine introduced as part of the 2020 facelift that also brings a revitalised exterior design, refreshed interior, and enhanced infotainment.
What’s it like to live with?
The Mitsubishi ASX is one of the roomier small SUVs, with good rear seat space that makes it big enough for family duties. It’s comfortable up front too though even the Exceed's leather appointed seats could do with more under-thigh and lateral support.
The 2020 ASX has a new dashboard layout with a fresh, clutter-free, infotainment interface that includes a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen (up from 7.0-inches) with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay and digital radio (DAB+). The Exceed also gets in-built TomTom satellite navigation and a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate premium sound system with an unexpectedly large sub woofer mounted in the 393-litre boot.
The new dashboard layout has controls and displays intuitively laid out, though the gauge cluster could do with a digital speedo.
The Exceed gets all the features available in the mid-spec LS, including autonomous emergency braking, 18-inch alloy wheels, long-lasting LEDs for all exterior lights except turn indicators, climate control air-conditioning, cruise control, auto-dimming mirror, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, privacy glass and roof rails.
The extra money over the LS brings auto-leveling headlamps, a huge panoramic sunroof, heated seats, four-way powered driver’s seat and the aforementioned sat nav, premium sound system and the 2.4-litre engine that’s coupled to a CVT auto.
Like the LS, the Exceed also comes standard with an ADAS safety pack that adds lane departure warning, auto high beam, reversing sensors, blind spot warning, lane change assist rear cross traffic alert, front fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers, and dusk-sensing headlamps.
The Mitsubishi ASX comes with a five-year, 100,000km warranty and 15,000km service intervals. Each service is capped at $199 if you take your ASX to an authorised dealer service centre.
What’s it like to drive?
The 2020 Mitsubishi ASX Exceed comes with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that returns some pep to the range that was lost when the low-selling 2.2-litre turbodiesel was discontinued in 2018.
Taken from the now-discontinued Lancer, it produces 123kW/222Nm, which is about 12 percent more power and torque than the ES and LS’ lethargic 110kW/197Nm 2.0-litre that’s a bit under powered for a small SUV.
The extra shove is noticeable, as is the smoothness of the CVT auto that doesn’t have to work anywhere near as hard to reach and maintain freeway speeds.
With gradual throttle input the power delivery feels surprisingly seamless. Travelling at the 110km/h speed limit on the Pacific Freeway north of Byron Bay saw revs sit around a comfortable 1900rpm on level stretches, with the gearbox quickly adapting to hills and descents with little fuss with cruise control engaged.
On the road, the ASX does a good job of soaking up bumps, though you do get some jarring through the 18-inch wheel rims at lower speeds. Wind noise is reasonably subdued even at higher speeds, however the road noise can get a little loud on coarser surfaces.
The 2.4-litre engine is much livelier than the 2.0-litre engine that’s still under the bonnet of the ES and LS without losing much in terms of fuel economy. Its 7.9L/100km fuel economy is marginally thirstier than the 2.0-litre’s 7.3L/100kms.
READ MORE: 2020 Mitsubishi ASX pricing and features
Putting the foot down harder elicits the customary CVT scream but, with peak power at 6000rpm, it still takes a while before you run out of steam. At lower speeds, the CVT has been programmed to feel more like a normal torque converter automatic, which makes for a smooth and quiet drive around town.
The change in driving dynamics the bigger engine brings doesn’t extend to handling. You still get that noticeable lean when cornering quickly, while the rear-end has trouble keeping up with the front wheels during quick changes direction, such as when negotiating S bends.
Is it worth the cost?
The reason the ASX is Australia’s biggest selling SUV is because you get a lot of car for an affordable price. That’s why we recommend the ES with ADAS safety pack with a hatchback-rivalling $27,490 retail price.
Unfortunately, the ES isn’t available with the new 2.4-litre engine, which suddenly makes spending another $5500 on the Exceed more worthwhile, considering all the additional features it comes with.
That said, the low-to-mid-$30k price range brings a lot more competition so if you’re buying the Exceed for the improved performance you may want to weight it up against some if its fresher competitors including the Kia Seltos Sport+ and Honda HR-V VTi-LX.
PROS: Punchier 2.4-litre engine, spacious interior, standard features
CONS: Cabin noise, handling, dated design