By Mike Torpey on 2017-01-22 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
the crossover bar
THE Mitsubishi ASX could be described as an SUV with a wheel in two camps.
It's the largest of the small compact crossover models and the smallest of the larger crossovers.
Those qualities, for starters at least, help make the model a near perfect fit for everyday family life.
Versatility is the name of the game with a blend of style, space, efficiency, capability and safety in what's always been a reliable value for money package.
With the 2017 model year ASX, the Japanese brand has upped its game and taken the fight to higher priced rivals like the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Skoda Yeti.
It comes courtesy of refreshed interiors, improved specifications, a revised range structure and a price scale that starts at £15,999.
Being integrated fully into the Mitsubishi family - joining stablemates like the Outlander and its plug-in PHEV sibling - was seen as a priority, so the latest ASX gets the company's new Dynamic Shield design.
That means a face with chrome streaks either side of the grille, shielding the triple diamond Mitsubishi mark, while there is also now a shark-fin antenna, smarter seat fabrics and, on higher spec variants, aluminium sports pedals.
And the trim grade designation has also been simplified, returning to the ASX 2, 3, 4 and 5 rising scale in a range that starts at £15,999 for a 117bhp 1.6-litre petrol model and tops out at £28,349 for a 2.2-litre ASX 5 diesel automatic with 4WD.
All-wheel drive is something for which Mitsubishi has a time-honoured reputation and in the case of the ASX, some 48 per cent of buyers have opted for those models - appreciably more than any other offering in its area of the market.
The ASX may be described as a ‘compact' model but there's plenty of space in there, with ample rear legroom and a soft if slightly perched centre seating position.
Its cabin is fresh, modern and pleasant with a bright, airy feel, attractive piano black inserts in the dash and steering wheel and traditional easy-to-operate switches.
Plenty of thought has gone into stowage of everyday items with no less than five cupholders up front, another pair in the flip-down rear armrest, a deep central container, glovebox and a decent size boot with underfloor space and deep plastic containers on either side.
And every ASX comes with kit including alloy wheels, daytime running lights, privacy glass, chrome exhaust and Bluetooth, plus active stability and traction control.
Moving up just a single grade from 2 to 3 (from £18,349) adds the likes of keyless entry, cruise control, a reversing camera, 18-inch alloys and a six-speaker touchscreen info system with DAB.
Beneath the bonnet is a choice of 1.6-litre petrol or diesel engines plus a 2.2-litre diesel, the latter of which was used for a press exercise predominantly through a mix of A roads and country lanes in and around Mitsubishi's UK base in Cirencester.
While the lower powered 114PS turbo diesel engine has the potential to top 60 miles per gallon, the 2.2-litre automatic variant with 4WD and 147bhp of punch musters an official 48.7mpg.
Achieving that figure is helped considerably by a combination of reduced body weight, lighter components, regenerative braking and the use of low voltage LEDs.
It all adds up to an SUV that's well balanced, enjoyable and rewarding to drive, if a little noisy under firm acceleration.
But given the degree of standard kit and safety gear at entry level, petrol or diesel, these models are where the value lies.
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