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Friday, June 29, 2012

Mitsubishi ASX Compact SUV Test Drive Review in Malaysia

A few years ago, when world’s fuel prices were soaring, many automakers suffered sales losses in their SUV and large passenger car segments. However, today’s market is showing a bright future and many automakers is gradually launching their SUVs in all sizes and segments.  One of the stunning SUV concepts was the Lamborghini’s Urus concept that unveiled at 2012 Beijing Auto Show. The president of Automobili Lamborghini – Stephan Winkelmann said, “The Urus is a very concrete idea for the future of Lamborghini”. This is unbelievable, isn’t it? It means that your new sedan is old school.

Though, not all our journalists in FastMotoring know how to appreciate crossovers, trucks and SUVs. In reality, the world market of SUVs has been growing strongly since 2005 due to its characteristic and stylish appearance. In average, SUVs are dominating between 10-20% market shares in all regions. Most likely, because the modern SUVs are simply better, wiser, practical and (feel) safer.

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Back to the subject, we have recently picked up two compact SUVs for test drive in Malaysia. In this review, I will be presenting the 2012 Mitsubishi ASX 2.0 which comes with upgraded package specially for Malaysian market with the price tag below RM139k (on-the-road without insurance). It is also known as Mitsubishi RVR in Japan.

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A Mitsubishi ASX in white pearl colour is handed over to us for a review. At the first sight, it is basically a Mitsubishi Lancer affixed with a set of 4×4 wheels and tyres. I probably thought of that because the fronts carry the same facade and sidelining that similar to the Lancer. Indeed, the ASX shared the same platform as the Outlander, Lancer and Lancer Evolution X.

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The look and feel of the car is fairly similar to the Lancer. It is not 100% exactly the same but I would say 80%. Inside the car, the ASX is having the same steering wheel with paddle shifters, fully automatic air conditioner with air filter, auto cruise control and dual airbags with driver’s knee airbag like the Lancer GT. The nappa leather seats (which I like the smell) with enhanced comfort are also part of the ASX offering and the 60:40 split rear seatbacks can be folded down completely flat to make more space.

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I recalled back in 2010 when I was in Australia for a vacation, I found one of the top grades of the ASX comes with Rockford Fosgate premium audio system with satellite navigation from the factory. Conversely for the Malaysian model, it comes with a Kenwood’s 2-DIN LCD touch screen headunit with 6 speakers (4 speakers and 2 tweeters) instead. Yet of course, the aux audio jack and USB port are available for any portable media players. But, there is no audio control buttons on the steering wheel.

Before you engage to the reverse gear, you need to ensure the headunit needs to power on before the rear view is display on the screen.

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The 2012 model come with more standard features for the ASX, like the keyless entry with push start button and smart key system, leather seats with enhanced comfort, and a set of 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 215/60 R17 tyres including the spare.

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On the technical aspect and performance, the ASX is sharing a similar 4B11 aluminium block 2.0-litre 16v inline-4 DOHC MIVEC engine that coupled with INVECS-III CVT transmission (w/ 6 virtual gears) as the current Mitsubishi Lancer GT 2.0 and Proton Inspira 2.0P model.

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From the Mitsubishi’s factory in Japan, the ASX is available with front-wheel (2WD) and all-wheel (4WD) drive variants. However, the ASX in Malaysia is a front-wheel (2WD) drive model.

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The ASX’s engine is churning a maximum output of 150PS @ 6,000rpm with a maximum torque of 197Nm @ 4,200rpm. Because it is a CVT transmission, the acceleration and gear shifting are smoother and more responsive than conventional auto gearbox. The steering of the ASX with tilt and telescopic adjustments is powered by electric instead of conventional hydraulic system. Although the CVT gearboxes and Electric Power Steering (EPS) are not many people favor but it is proven to be more fuel efficient by many automakers. It’s not rocket science, we believe those are the key reasons why the Mitsubishi ASX is one of the most fuel economical and low emission compact SUV in the market as claimed.

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The safety features of the ASX come with Active Stability Control (ASC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), dual front airbags with driver’s knee airbag, seatbelts with pretensioners, front sensor with off button, rear reverse sensor and force limiters and Hill Start Assist (HSA). The HSA is pretty useful when you start off on a steep uphill slope which I have tested. The HSA is clever enough to detect the angle and automatically maintains the braking force until the accelerator is applied.

It is also a norm that the modern SUVs offer better handling and more aerodynamic than before. Of course, the ASX is not in the exclusion list. The overall ride and comfort of the ASX is pretty good because the SUV come with a wide tread and long wheelbase. The suspension of the ASX is setup with the MacPherson struts on the front and multi-link on the rear. The rating of the shock absorber from the factory is well-tuned which able to deliver great cornering stability, control and comfort.

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Because we are ‘FastMotoring’ people that travel around the globe just because of cars, our wish lists for a motor vehicle could be a little fancy. After driving the ASX for a couple of days, I found the ASX can even better off if the car is featured with an auto climate control with digital display, auto wiper and auto headlamp with High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps.

On the other hand, the ASX is currently having a semi-auto headlamp instead, which it is capable to auto-cut off the lamps when the ignition is off to prevent battery drainage, just like the Mitsubishi Triton.

The rear passenger seats are rather straight though it provides a good lumbar back support. I suppose if there is a bit more rear seat legroom, it will be awesome for sure. I also found the engine is noisy at high revs.

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Last of all, Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia only offers the ASX with one variant. The Mitsubishi ASX 2.0 is priced at RM 138,156.10 on-the-road without insurance and available in 4 colours – White Pearl, Mica Black, Red Metallic and Titanium Grey. Lastly, the ASX includes a 3-year/100,000 km warranty as well as Mitsubishi’s 2-year free maintenance package.

Optional Accessories

- Front Corner Extension – RM 1,230
- Front Under Cover – RM 1,080
- Rear Garnish – RM 790
- Chrome Plated Door Mirror Cover – RM 780
- Side Wind Deflector – RM 420
- Rear Bumper Plate – RM470
- Tailgate Protector – RM 390
- Shift Knob – RM 230
- Side Tray Lid (Left-side luggage box) – RM 190
- Side Tray Lid (Right-side luggage box) – RM 200
- Luggage Net – RM 200
- Luggage Mat – RM 120
- Scuff Plate – RM 490
- Large Rear Spoiler:-
White Pearl & Red Metallic – RM 1,590
Black Mica & Grey Metallic – RM 1,490

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