Mitsubishi’s ASX is an enigma. The current generation is nudging 12 years old, spanning four series changes (XA, XB, XC and XD) and as many face-lifts, remaining one of motoring’s oldest models still currently on sale in Oz. But its extraordinary popularity of the compact crossover has, amazingly, bucked convention, consistently outselling its own benchmarks as it marches along in its advancing age.
It outsells everything in its hotly contested segment…still. And it remains one of the top 10-selling nameplates in Australia outright.
Mitsubishi really got this third generation ‘RVR’, as it’s known overseas, right. Its compact size, smart packaging and decent two-suitcase luggage space minted in a fetching form seemingly impervious to ageing made it appealing to the young females, younger families on a budget and older empty-nesters who, according to its importer, are among its core private buyers.
The ASX’s car-like, Lancer-derived on-road manners won over many buyers. That Mitsubishi would eventually axe Lancer completely did, in no small part, spurn on the crossover’s popularity even further.
The range’s low-rungs were and are cheap from new (from $24k), so they’re both affordable and plentiful as used propositions, and offer the sort of relatively bomb-proof reliability via uncomplicated running gear and engineering favoured by hire car companies who, at times, accounting for buying as much as 40 percent of ASXs sold. Drawcards as second- or third-hand prospects, then, if demanding diligence in weeding out the well-flogged ex-rentals when tyre-kicking candidates…
Early XA examples, released in mid-2010, were offered with a 110kW/197Nm 2.0-litre petrol four or a 1.8-litre turbodiesel with identical powered but lustier 300Nm of torque. While petrol version could be had with five-speed-manual or CVT transmissions and a choice of either front- or all-wheel drive, the diesels were manual 4x4s. No-name base and flagship Aspire grades were joined by Activ (essentially base with upsized 17-inch wheels) and mid-range Platinum variants for MY12.
The XB brought a mild face-lift in late 2012 for MY13, with a larger-capacity 2.2L diesel, with an uprated 360Nm, replacing the 1.8L oiler as a rolling change in late 2013 (essentially for MY14). Diesel buyers now had a more broadly appealing automatic transmission. Proving that little stood still in ASX land, the MY15 (from mid-2014) brought a pep-up recognizable via refreshed wheel styling and a new (low) LS and (high) XLS naming convention. For MY15.5, wheels were upsized to 18-inch across the board in yet another new design.
In what was becoming a rich if confusing providence, the major XC face-lift for MY17 (in late 2016) brought a bit of an upmarket push and fresh nameplates in new entry-level ES and high-grade Exceed, with both ES and slightly elevated LS available either with or without ADAS safety smarts. Tip: when shopping second-hand for inexperienced drivers, the later-lifecycle ADAS suite is a highly recommended, if not essential, recommendation. A stylized ES-grade Black Edition front-driven petrol was released as a limited edition in 2019.
At a decade young, gen-three’s late-2019 XD major makeover introduced the fresher ‘Dynamic Shield’ front styling, replacing all panels and features from the windscreen forward, plus a new 123kW/222Nm 2.4-litre petrol four to sit alongside the carryover 2.0L. The line-up also taps defunct Lancer heritage in two overtly sport-themed MR and GSR guises, adding to the ten-variant series offering both regular and slightly improved Plus versions of ES, MR and XLS.
In techy window-dressing, ASX kept reasonable step with fresher competition, even if it was largely nothing-broken-nothing-demanding-fixing under the range’s new skin. That said, the current XD’s introduction saw Mitsubishi ditch the now-slow selling diesel and all-wheel drive options for what was now an all-petrol front-driven line-up. And what still remains very hot property with so many Aussie buyers off the showroom floor.