By Mike Torpey on 2021-01-09 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Mitsubishi ASX 2.0
VERSATILITY is the name of the game on the continually expanding SUV scene, as car manufacturers strive for a winning blend of style, space, efficiency, capability and safety.
So finding a model that makes for that perfect fit for everyday family life can prove a bit of a minefield.
Add value for money plus reliability to the equation and the Mitsubishi ASX - active sports crossover - rises to the top of the pile.
The ASX is a car with instant appeal in that it's among the largest of the compact crossover models and the smallest of the larger variants, the upshot being plenty of interior space.
Make no mistake, this is a hugely important model to the Japanese car maker. Globally it's the brand's third best seller having notched around 1.4 million sales, with the UK accounting for more than 31,000 of them.
And a far-reaching list of enhancements - ranging from a chunkier overall design to the adoption of four-wheel drive - has made the latest ASX even more desirable.
It's also a simple and straightforward model line-up with a choice of Dynamic or Exceed trim grades and a new 2.0-litre petrol engine - no diesel option anymore - with prices from Â£21,035.
While entry level versions have front-wheel drive and a five-speed manual gearbox our tested Exceed model came with both 4WD and a CVT automatic transmission, also operated via paddle shifts on steering wheel.
It also featured 18-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic glass roof with black roof rails, leather upholstery, heated seats and useful safety kit like a blind spot warning (which many far more expensive cars don't include) lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.
Buyers get a cabin that's fresh, modern and pleasant with a bright, airy feel, attractive piano black and silver inserts in the dash and steering wheel and traditional easy-to-operate switches.
Plenty of thought has gone into the stowage of everyday items too with 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.
We comfortably managed to fit in a folding metal bed frame plus mattress for its trip to a final resting place at the local recycling centre thanks to a boot capacity that registers 1,206 litres with the rear seats folded down.
As for passenger space there's bags of room up front and adequate accommodation in the back, though the centre rear seating position is slightly perched - and thankfully soft.
A new eight-inch touchscreen Smartphone-link Display Audio system along with DAB radio, Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all ASX models while an integrated TomTom sat nav is included with Exceed.
Out on the road the new 2.0-litre petrol engine is agreeably lively, developing 150bhp, and although acceleration to 60mph takes fully a dozen seconds the car is strong on the motorway and feels both light and lively around country lanes and in the suburbs.
The automatic gearbox performs seamlessly and for muddy tracks or wintry conditions you can just twist a dial to switch between the 2WD, Auto 4WD or 4WD Lock (with around 1.5 times more torque) modes.
In fact the only downside is an average fuel economy in the mid 30s - officially 34.4 miles per gallon.
Mitsubishi ASX 2.0 Exceed 4WD
Mechanical: 150ps, 1,998cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 12.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 34.4
Insurance Group: 20
C02 emissions: 185g/km
Bik rating: 37%
Warranty: 5yrs/62,500 miles
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