Tuesday, October 28, 2014

First Drive: 2015 Mitsubishi ASX GSR

Photos by Ulysses Ang
When it comes to mid-cycle facelifts, carmakers often tout something sexy like a more aggressive exterior or a more premium interior. Sure, this is all brochure (and press release) worthy, but what about something that substantially changes the driving dynamics? You know, the one that really matters to the guy behind the wheel? Well, Mitsubishi has done exactly that and the result is the 2015 ASX: a crossover that runs better, smoother, and way better than ever before.

Before going to the meat of the matter, it’s still worth nothing that Mitsubishi hasn’t passed this opportunity to extensively modernize the ASX’s looks. With a name abbreviated from “Active Sports Crossover”, the 2015 ASX certainly looks the part with its chunky proportions coupled with short overhangs and a long wheelbase. It’s hard to imagine this vehicle’s been on the market since 2010 because it still looks fresh. At the front, it gets a new re-sculpted jet-fighter grille (with honeycomb inserts) sandwiched by new super wide-range HID headlamps with retractable washers. The new lamps may not look any different from the previous ASX, but turn the headlights to low beams and you’ll notice how new complex reflectors beneath the projector-cluster scatter the bluish-white light for a wider coverage. At the sides, the ASX flaunt new 17-inch alloy wheels with a two-toned black-and-silver finish. The turbine-style design certainly elevates the ASX’s character.



The premium and sporty approach is echoed in the 2015 ASX’s interior that features a longer list of standard features. In the range-topping GSR variant, the ASX now has leather seats with contrasting white stitching. The all-black interior is accentuated by matte carbon fiber accents on the center panel while high-gloss metallic trim on the instrument cluster and shifter do a great job of breaking the color monotony. Like before, the ASX features a deeply-recessed twin binnacle cluster with a full-color LCD in the middle. At the center is a 6.5-inch touchscreen LCD monitor that plays a full range of multimedia from DVDs to iPods to Bluetooth audio steams. It also provides turn-by-turn navigation from AVT, Mitsubishi’s go-to supplier of choice when it comes to GPS maps. New for this year is the addition of cruise control and a push-button start/stop across the line.

And finally, you cannot talk about the 2015 ASX without touching on the panoramic glass roof with LED illumination. The expansive glass roof doesn’t open like a sunroof would, but it does let a small dose, well, actually a huge chunk of sky in with a glass roof that extends the entire length of the cabin. Seeing the accordion-style covering slide away is magical in itself and then you add the LED roof lamps. It doesn’t light up the ceiling the way a Rolls-Royce would, but it gives a much cozier atmosphere, especially at night. There’s probably no better way to stare up the night sky with your significant other.



After discussing the cosmetic changes, it’s time to dive deep into what really matters: the driving. The question of the day is this: how much difference can a transmission make? In this particular case, one hell-of-a-difference.

Combing through the specification sheets, nothing has changed with the ASX when it comes to its engine. It’s still using the tried-and-tested 2.0-liter 4B11 4-cylinder engine shared with the Lancer EX. It still makes 150 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 197 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm. They’re pretty good numbers, putting the ASX squarely in the middle of the compact crossover pack. The improved performance is courtesy of the new INVECS-III CVT transmission. And this isn’t just about a simple re-program either. Mitsubishi has put in an entirely new transmission unit that’s 15 kilograms lighter. This actually makes the 2015 ASX lighter by 10 kilograms compared to the Lancer EX 2.0 GTA (1,350 kilograms vs 1,360 kilograms). It’s an amazing feat considering the previous ASX was once portlier than its sedan sibling. Next, it features revised ratios including a higher final drive for improved fuel efficiency. It’s also been made to mesh with the engine much better, taking advantage of the MIVEC’s “twin peak” torque curve.



Putting these changes to the test, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation organized a lengthy drive from Manila to La Union. Taking the full driving duties going to Thunderbird Resort, the final destination of the drive, the first thing you appreciate with the ASX is the high hip point. Together with the large glass area and generously-sized mirrors, it gives a great vantage point when maneuvering the ASX in traffic. Pushing the “Start/Stop Engine” button, the 4B11 cranks to life. It’s an all-too familiar sound by now;  slightly coarse but largely quiet and refined. Slotting the transmission to ‘D’, it’s time to set off. Leaving DCT Holdings in Balintawak, the 2015 ASX’s improved grunt is very noticeable. The rubber band sensation of the previous CVT is gone and replacing it is immediate power. A slight step on the gas pedal surges the ASX forward and a glance at the instrumentation concurs that the engine revs matches nicely with the engine’s power band.

With no convoy to speak of for this drive, once the fleet of ASX hit NLEX (after a brief rest stop at Petron), it’s anything goes. The ASX is remarkably quiet even when hitting triple digit speeds with just a hint of tire noise from the Yokohama A-specs tires. As everyone else started fiddling with the panoramic glass roof, as a driver, the CVT’s revised ratios are very welcome. 100 km/h is achieved with less than 2,000 rpm registering on the tachometer. The standard cruise control helps avoid speeding tickets, though it must be said that the system doesn’t give an indication whether it’s currently active or not. It only tells you when cruise control’s on or off. Letting go of cruise control, the ASX is easily capable of speeds past 140 km/h while still managing 13.1 km/L after the NLEX, SCTEX, and TPLEX run (the round trip average is 10.2 km/L).



On narrow provincial roads, the ASX provides ample power for overtaking. You do have to squeeze the engine that extra bit when attempting to overtake multiple vehicles, but at least it gives you the confidence that you have power when you need it. Plus, the magnesium paddle shifters provide a quick downshift when needed. Through curves, steering is responsive and quick. However, as expected from a crossover, the softer sprung suspension and higher center of gravity do make it understeer midway through tighter corners, which can catch you off guard.

It may have been four years since its debut, but the Mitsubishi ASX is one forever young crossover. In fact, in its 2015 form, it actually feels and drives younger than when it first came out. Some will miss the loss of all-wheel drive, but with a much more competitive price point now (P 1,248,000), who’s honestly going to miss it? The 2015 ASX has not only gone through a successful nip-tuck, but it’s also been through the gym, emerging as a hunkier crossover.


42 comments:

  1. 1,248k for a asx facelift sorry I'll take d new nissan x trail.

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    1. ASX and X-Trail belong in separate categories.
      The ASX is a subcompact SUV while the X-Trail is a compact SUV and is priced P100k more than the ASX.
      Pakipost picture ng X-trail mo pag nabili mo na ha.

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    2. lol @ ur sarcasm, nice lad

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    3. not thinking...

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    4. Let me remind you ASX is more sporty than xTrail, specially GSR variant, tulo laway mo don pag nakita mo.

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  2. Highly underrated. Even now, I still prefer the looks of the ASX compared to the subaru XV. The interior seems dated though.

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    1. I had a tough time choosing between the asx and the xv, but in the end I went with the asx for value-for-money reasons. At first I was having second thoughts on mitsubishi's claims on improved transmission and cabin noise...but was reassured once I started driving it. this article certainly gives justice based on my actual experience.

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    2. The GSR is top of the line loaded w/ classy glass roof already but it's cheaper than the cheapest XV. The only spec going for the XV is it's awd. But who needs that? Awd means more gas to run and more expensive maintenance. In contrast GSR w/ a glass roof, wow, i don't think one can find that kind of luxury at that price range. Kudos, Mitsu for a job well done.
      Anyway, anon @ oct 29, I dono if you bought the GSR or not. But let me just ask about the fuel consumption in city driving and the maintenance cost of your new asx. tnx in advance

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    3. @R2, I went with the GLS since the wife got a little paranoid with the glass roof. If I was still single I may have chosen the XV. Yes, I agree that the ASX is hard to beat bang-for-the-buck. Current fuel consumption is about 8.5km/L Metro-Manila driving, which I think is decent for a 2.0L gasoline engine...haven't taken it out on the hi-way though.

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    4. Are the areas in the car like door handle or center console where you rest your elbows padded/soft or is it hard plastic?

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    5. Errr...yes. In fact, the door molding isn't covered in leather like the seats. They're covered in fabric. It makes me think that the leather seats were done by a Philippine-based supplier and not Japanese leather like the ones used in the XV. I could be wrong.

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    6. @anonymous Nov. 2, there's a small padded fabric area at the door handle where you can rest your elbow, the rest is hard plastic. The center console cover is padded and can slide forward/backward to your liking. However, you'll find it hard to control the steering wheel once you rest your left elbow on the padded area, the former is quite far.

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    7. Thank you for the replies.
      I was curious if the said areas are padded or at least rubberized so that elbows won't be hurting when placed on them during long drives, especially for the one driving.
      I'm currently shopping for a small suv and I'm interested in this vehicle. The price seems reasonable, even the for the higher trim level.

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  3. Bought mine last 9/30, in city driving with moderate traffic..my consumption is 9-10km/l..driving without traffic in aguinaldo hiway-gen trias gives me an easy 12km/l ..

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  4. Where was this car photo shoot taken? Kinda reminds me of santorini in greece.

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    1. looks like thunderbird in la union

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  5. Those who don't need the larger size of a Tucson or Sportage (roughly the same price) will appreciate this vehicle.

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  6. hi! Can the rear seats of the GSR variant be reclined? it's just that when i went to see an actual GLS model, the rear seats aren't recline-able and the standard position was too straight up and uncomfortable -- the main reason why i didn't go with this model :(

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  7. To me and no offense meant, mitsu priced it so wrong. If only mitsu priced asx at about 700 to 800, it would have been a hit. Hut then again maybe not. Remember the lancer was the cheapest subcompact at 600 but no takers even taxi operators. I guess it's because of the dreaded mitsubulok image. Lol sorry if your scratching your head with the cost of repairing your montirik, lol.

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  8. To me and no offense meant, mitsu priced it so wrong. If only mitsu priced asx at about 700 to 800, it would have been a hit. Hut then again maybe not. Remember the lancer was the cheapest subcompact at 600 but no takers even taxi operators. I guess it's because of the dreaded mitsubulok image. Lol sorry if your scratching your head with the cost of repairing your montirik, lol.

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  9. Does the ASX have a spare tire or a tire repair kit?

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    Replies
    1. the spare is not a donut...

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    2. Yes it has :)

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  10. wish they have added some side & curtain airbags...

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  11. I'm reading reviews from Grand i10 to the ASX. They're all competitively priced good cars. Choices. It's so hard to pick which one to purchase!

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  12. is there a sliding cover for the glass roof?

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  13. is the asx gsr equipped with rain sensor?

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  14. Sirs, what PSI should the tires have? I am new and do not know where to find. The sides says 32 and 35 but which to follow?

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    1. I think that depends on how many people/luggage you're carrying and the speeds you plan to travel in? 32 is probably the standard for a load of 2 passengers and 2 pieces of luggage while the 35 is the load of 4-5 passengers and 4-5 pieces of luggage.

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  15. Just Bought my ASX, worth every penny! :)

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  16. Is ASX GSR really the better buy compared to a Honda HRV-E? ASX GSR seems to have more bells and whistles and a lot cheaper than HRV-E, even after discount for both vehicles. The only thing outstanding that I can see on the HRV is its interior. Is the price really worth it for its superb and classy interior? ASX GSRs' interior on the other hand seems quite out dated even it is a TOTL. But personally, I like ASXs' exterior more. Any opinions?

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    Replies
    1. Just got ours last December 29. :) My partner and I loved it! My friend owns HRV. Both okay but I find ASX more attractive. :) Especially the sunroof! <3

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  17. for the ASX owners, feedback on the maintenance costs please, 5k/10k estimates?

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  18. I am now decided to buy ASX GSR, any negative rraction/comment from here?

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    1. The ASX is actually quite okay, but it's really showing its age. For the same price, you can actually go for the Honda HR-V or the Subaru XV. Have you looked at those choices as well?

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  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  20. hi sir ang!

    im currently at a dilemma as to which car to buy. im torn between ASX GSR and CX5 PRO.


    suggestions will be highly appreciated. thanks

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