Mitsubishi Motors South Africa is making its first foray into one of the fastest growing passenger car segments in the country with the arrival of its ASX, which is a compact crossover.
Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) account for approximately 10% of the South African market, a share which is expected to increase to 15% over the next five years. The compact segment is one of the largest segments in the SUV segment and accounts for 40% of the total SUV market.
The stylish newcomer’s positioning in the market is spelt out by its name, ASX, which means Active Sporty Crossover. That says it all. The lines are sleek and flowing, and the design front and rear is well balanced.
Mitsubishi has a very strong name in the SUV market due to their seven consecutive victories in the Dakar rally, and the popularity of the multiple award-winning Pajero range. The new ASX will be in a market which is far larger and will therefore enhance the representation of Mitsubishi across the total SUV market.
There are three models in the ASX range, all with two-wheel drive and powered by a 2-litre Mitsubishi petrol engine which uses a unique variable valve timing system, known as Mitsubishi Innovative Valve Timing Electronic Control System (MIVEC), to produce an output of 110kW of power at 6,000r/min and 197Nm of torque at 4,200r/min while also being economical. The fuel economy of the petrol engine is an excellent 7.5 litres/100km. Part of the reason for this frugality is the fact that the torque curve provides 85% of peak torque from just 2,000r/min.
Two of the models have a five-speed manual gearbox while the range-topper is fitted with a six-speed continuously variable transmission (CVT). The lightweight CVT offers better fuel economy since the engine speed is held at the optimal level, which also results in a smoother driving experience and lower power loss compared to conventional torque converter automatic transmissions. The fuel economy of the CVT is an impressive 7.6litres/100km.
This is the second model introduced into SA by the new company (part of the Imperial Group), which took over responsibility for the Mitsubishi Motors franchise in South Africa from July 1, 2011. The first launch was a face-lifted Triton Double Cab and Clubcab.
The ASX has been developed from the Mitsubishi Concept-cX show car that was unveiled at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show and has eye-catching styling. The ASX has a bold frontal appearance with its gaping “jet fighter” grille which is a nod to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ jet fighter and has now been adopted for a number of the motor company’s models, such as the latest Colt hatchback, Lancer sedan and Outlander. At the rear, the sleek, aerodynamic styling of the ASX shows off the crisp lines of the vehicle and the lights clearly carry through the contemporary styling and aggressive poise of the front of the vehicle.
The interior is both attractive and practical with a centre panel incorporating a digital quartz clock, the audio system and single-zone climate control. As with other top end compact SUVs the console material is all soft touch, has a very user friendly ergonomic design and the steering wheel is leather covered.
“We are aware that this segment of the local car market is very active and has a number of strong sellers already. We are not underestimating them but are confident that the new Mitsubishi ASX will soon carve itself a healthy share of this action,” said the CEO of Mitsubishi Motors SA, Jaco Oosthuizen.
“We see the ASX appealing to both men and women in the age group 30-45 years of age and these will be style conscious individuals with an active and sporty lifestyle. They are people who value the space and flexibility of the configuration of a raised stance crossover and who also see it as an alternative to a trendy hatchback. They are the target market which really appreciates the tremendous safety features in the ASX and its 5-star safety rating and also the versatile space configurations.”
“The Mitsubishi name has been around in the South African motoring environment for almost 40 years and has built up a strong following, but it still has that special appeal of being different and they are certainly not mainstream or run-of-the-mill vehicles,” added the Mitsubishi SA chief executive.
The level of trim and standard equipment is very high in all three ASX model derivatives, with the entry-level model having such upmarket features as rear park distance control, leather steering wheel with audio controls, as well as the generally expected equipment such as electric windows and fold-away mirrors all round, air conditioning and 16 inch alloy wheels (including an alloy spare – much more trendy if you ever have to use it).
The next model in the line-up gets even higher specification, which includes leather heated seats, 17 inch alloy wheels and an enormous panoramic roof with LED illumination. The panoramic roof is spectacular and extends all the way over the rear passengers providing unlimited views of the sky and a true outdoor sensation. There are rain-sensing windscreen wipers, dusk sensing headlights, heated fold-way side mirrors, single-zone climate control and a keyless operating system with a start stop button for the engine.
As with all compact SUVs the interior space is great for the size of vehicle. The rear passengers have ample leg- and head room and the interior space configuration is easily adjusted. Both rear seats fold forward entirely, and the boot space (normally 442 litres with the seats in place) is then completely flat which allows for easy loading and unloading and an enormous 1,193 litres with the seats folded forward. There is also no lip at the entrance to the load area – something every family person will praise.
It gets even better in the CVT-equipped premium derivative, which has a more sophisticated Rockford Fosgate nine-speaker audio system with a 710W amplifier, and a 10” subwoofer, super-wide HID headlamps with automatic self-levelling features, which is handy when the vehicle is heavily loaded.
The ASX is one of the class leaders in safety. Already having achieved a prestigious five star rating in the Euro NCAP crash testing procedure, the ASX has, in all models, seven airbags (driver, passenger, side, side curtain and drivers knees). This seven airbag system complements the passive safety features of the vehicle including Mitsubishi’s patented Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) technology to form a secure safety cell.
In the Euro NCAP test the ASX was also awarded the impressive 5-star rating for the pedestrian safety levels as well as occupant safety – a critical element for the family buyer in this segment.
The top of the range ASX also has dusk sensing headlights including rain sensors – these are great features and also improve the safety of the vehicle. This model also has ASC, TCL and HSA included in the package.
The ASX is already winning accolades and getting high praise from the motoring media. An important award was a Gold Star in the Compact SUV Category from Wheels, the oldest and biggest circulation motoring magazine in Australia. It scored highly in terms of its fuel efficiency, pricing and attractive styling, as well as warranty cover and the 5-star safety rating.
Another Australian publication, The Motor Report, was full of praise for the ASX too, while it has also received very positive reports in the British Press, including CarBuyer UK and The Telegraph.
The ASX comes with a 3 year / 100 000km warrantee for peace-of-mind motoring, with Mitsubishi Motors South Africa adding a 5 year / 90 000km service plan to reduce the cost of motoring for the new ASX owners.
Mitsubishi Motors South Africa has 48 dealers nationally with dealerships in Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland as well.
All inclusive prices start with the entry-level at R279 900, the mid-level at R299 900 and the high-spec model at R319 900.