On the back of gaining a 6.6 percent market share in July Mitsubishi Motors New Zealand is bullish about its prospects for the new ASX (Active Smart Crossover) which went on sale on August 1.
The company openly admits it is targeting the burgeoning market for new crossover type vehicles such as the Nissan Qashqai and the Hyundai ix35 which are now firmly on the radar of urban based corporate fleet buyers.
It’s not a surprise that more than 44 percent of Qashqai sales occur within the greater Auckland region and more than 60 percent are sold to company buyers.
Daniel Cook who is the head of sales and marketing strategy for Mitsubishi Motors says the new market for crossover vehicles is drawing people out of small hatchbacks.
Cook says they perceive that vehicles such as the ASX are a step up in terms of space and versatility, while the SUV-like ride height allows better on-road visibility and ease of entry and exit which also appeals strongly to the three potential buyer demographics.
Bluetooth is standard on the Sport models and optional on LS variants but all ASX models receive electronic stability control, seven airbags including a driver’s knee airbag, hill start assist, and reversing sensors.
The ASX has a five star ANCAP rating.
In the first two weeks the company recorded 80 sales following an unprecedented level of public enquiry which it says it has not seen before when launching an all-new vehicle.
Warren Brown, general manager of sales and marketing, says it was the best response to a new model he’d seen for many years.
Sometimes on a media launch there aren’t always enough variants of a new model to go around but thankfully the Mitsubishi ASX (Active smart crossover) event held in August provided an opportunity for us to experience both engine variants and also the two different drive trains.
First up was the D4 Sport Diesel manual 4WD variant which is the most expensive at $45,990 and carries the honour of being the first diesel passenger car to be marketed locally by Mitsubishi.
Despite being a manual-only package at this time, the 1.8 litre diesel-powered ASX is great fun to drive, the torque-y Euro V compliant engine and 4WD system contribute to the vehicles solid on-road performance.
For rural based territory managers the ASX diesel Sport will make a great fleet choice, because it is roomy, comfortable, quiet and frugal, and did we mention incredibly responsive.
Around the hills and switchback roads of the Hunua gorge not only did the ASX diesel Sport cling to the tarmac it was also happy to potter uphill in fourth gear without any fuss or drama.
Mitsubishi claims a combined fuel consumption of 5.9 L/100km and C02 emissions of just 155g/km for the ASX diesel Sport, although we in fact managed an impressive 4.5 L/100km after a long motorway run, no doubt assisted by the tall fifth and sixth gears.
In addition to the generous Sport specifications – the diesel ASX receives leather upholstery with heated front seats and power adjustment on the driver’s seat and 17-inch alloy wheels rather than 16-inch on the petrol models.
Moving to the petrol ASX Sport 4WD variant priced at $41,990 showed a more composed on-road feel with less body roll and was quite similar in ride character and handling to the diesel Sport, though the petrol engine doesn’t quite match the same thrifty consumption.
Fuel economy and C02 figures on the petrol powered front-wheel-drive models are 7.9 L/100km and 184g/km while figures for the four-wheel-drive equivalent are 8.1L100km and 188g/km respectively.
Incidentally the 4WD ASX models have a slightly raised cargo floor to accommodate a full sized spare wheel, so useable cargo space is reduced to 384 litres rather than the 416 litres available in the front-wheel-drive variants.