SUVs have been winning the sales battle in Australia for more than a decade. While the mid-sized category continues to top the charts, small SUV sales follow close behind, with the star of the show still Mitsubishi’s ASX.
By last count there were no less than 20 different makes and models competing, with more than few big-selling names in the mix including the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30, Nissan Qashqai, Subaru XV and Toyota C-HR.
It’s a tough segment to compete in, one that’s fought in the trenches with both price and equipment levels key to a model’s success.
Never before have buyers had so much for so little in a small, city-based SUV with all models offering a solid value for money proposition in this segment.
Those looking at the trusty Mitsubishi ASX are in for a pleasant surprise, because the 2020 model has been treated to the most extensive facelift since the ASX launched a decade ago.
The new face is the most obvious change and a welcome one, given the ASX has always been cheap and cheerful and looked that way too. It simply lacked the character of many of its key rivals.
Mitsubishi’s bold new Dynamic Shield design language dials some masculinity into the look, particularly on our Sport-themed GSR, which adds a raft of black accents to the exterior including the bulk of the grille, wheels, door mirrors, fog lamp surrounds, side skirts, and badging.
Lights are LEDs all-round and they make quite a difference to the general appeal of the ASX, as well as the new rear diffuser-style skid plate insert and roof spoiler – also in black. What really looks good are the contemporary, quad-bank fog lights up front, with a strong light signature to cap it all off.
All-in-all it’s a more rugged design that pulls the ASX in line with Mitsubishis like the larger Eclipse Cross, Outlander, Triton, and Pajero Sport.
Thankfully, the colour palette is largely devoid of boring greys, instead offering brighter paints like the Sunshine Orange of our GSR tester. Granted, there are Titanium and Sterling Silver in the mix.
How much does the Mitsubishi ASX GSR cost?
Choosing the GSR will set you back $30,740 before on-road costs, which Mitsubishi quotes as $32,490 drive-away. It’s only one notch down from the top-spec Exceed that has a drive-away price of $35,990.
But with seven different ASX variants in the model range, you can also get into one for as little as $24,990 drive-away – that’s for the ES with a five-speed manual transmission.
If you want the cheapest auto, you’ll need to stump up $26,740 drive-away. That gets you a CVT and a host of standard kit, including all the latest passive and active safety systems.
Buyers can choose from several option packs including the Adventure Kit ($1699), which adds roof rack cross bars, bonnet protector, headlight protectors, nudge bar, cargo liner, and boot flap scuff guard.
The Protection Pack ($999) includes outer scuff plates, a bonnet protector, headlight protector, weather shield cargo liner and carpet mats, while the Style Set ($2199) adds an alloy fuel lid, front skid plate, tailgate protector, chrome door handles, and silver door mirror covers.
What do you get?
For starters, buyers get the option of Sunshine Orange which is exclusive to the GSR and Exceed. It marries well with the black accents mentioned earlier in the review. It looks and feels a bit more special than the rest of the line-up.
Also unique to the GSR is a sports mode and metal paddle-shifters, which definitely put some extra oomph into the driving experience as well as what is an otherwise fairly dull CVT transmission – not unlike the majority of CVTs.
And, then there’s the engine itself, generating 12 per cent more power and 13 per cent more torque which is definitely felt behind the wheel.
I’d like to say the GSR gets a heap more kit than its less expensive stablemates and to some extent that’s true, but the reality is even the entry-level ASX ES comes loaded with essential features and creature comforts.
For starters, there’s 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps and daytime running lamps, LED brake, tail and reverse lights. You also get a leather-wrapped steering wheel, climate control, and electrically operated door mirrors with power-fold function.
There’s also an 8.0-inch touchscreen (up from 7.0- on the previous version) with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a reverse camera, auto headlights and auto high-beam for all variants other than the base ES.
That said, the GSR improves the offering further by including micro suede and synthetic leather upholstery with contrast red stitching, black headlining, and an uprated six-speaker audio system.
Is the Mitsubishi ASX GSR safe?
All ASX variants get a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on crash tests performed in 2010 and covers all variants built from September 2019, being the most recent upgrade.
In the important frontal offset crash, the ASX scored 14.3 out of a possible 16 points. And in the side impact and pole test it managed perfect scores.
Overall, the ASX notched up 34.13 from a possible 37 with all variants benefiting from dual frontal, side chest, and side head airbags (curtains) and a driver knee airbag as standard.
Reversing collision avoidance and forward collision warning are standard, as is autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian protection.
In addition, all ASX variants bar the base ES are equipped with the Mitsubishi’s ADAS safety pack which adds lane departure warning, lane change assist, blind-spot monitoring, reverse parking sensors, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Included in the pack is also auto high beam, front fog lamps, rain-sensing wipers and dusk-sensing headlamps.