A simple statement, ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’ made by Leonardo da Vinci illustrates its own point with simple clarity yet, as the late Steve Jobs remarked, ‘Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple…’.
In this modern age of instant gratification, there is an underlying demand for ‘more’ and, to be noticed or talked about on Twitter or Instagram, every manufacturer or supplier of goods has to keep rushing to provide whatever this ‘more’ might be.
In the automotive world it mostly comes down to force-feeding various bits of technology into vehicles, much of which goes to the ‘connectivity’ of that vehicle, the PR-speak media bulletins providing reams of justification and self-congratulatory prose on the achievement.
However, is it actually necessary?
The Mitsubishi ASX 2.0 Auto arrived for review and Mrs W fell instantly in love. Considering her emotional involvement with things automotive is usually to reply, “it’s a blue one” (or whatever the colour might be) when asked what car I happen be driving that week, this outpouring of emotion came as quite a surprise.
Her input is extremely valuable and she normally takes the cars on for a brief drive when there is shopping to be done, returning to point out things she liked or disliked and that I might not specifically notice, especially as I try to avoid grocery shopping as much as possible.
Her trip with the ASX reinforced the original opinion and she ecstatically informed me the loved the looks, the visibility from the driving position, the adjustment of the seats, the fact the safety belt could be positioned comfortably for the female form, the clarity and simplicity of the instrument panel, the ease of parking and ride comfort.
And yes. Having spent a week with the car, her observations are absolutely correct – pointing directly to that issue of keeping things simple.
The ASX is not overburdened with fancy ‘in-crowd’ technology or gimmicks. It became part of the exercise to try to find something that was missing from the spec of the car. I failed. There is everything one needs and nothing that is superfluous or unlikely to be used again once set to the user’s liking.
Originally introduced in 2011, the latest iteration priced at R414 995 comes up, on price parity, against the likes of the Suzuki Vitara 1.4T GLX auto (R416 900), Nissan Qashqai 1.2T Acenta (R423 100) and Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0TSI 85 kW Highline R-Line (R426 600), all three of which have smaller engine capacities and are turbo-charged.
For 2020, the ASX was given a newly designed frontal exterior including a new bonnet, LED headlights and LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) as well as LED fog lamps with integrated turning signals, a redesigned radiator grille and a brand-new front bumper face.
At the rear, it also gained a new lighting package – LED brake lights, LED taillights, LED reverse lights and integrated turning signals in the one-piece cluster.
Seen from the side, the 2020 model boasts a variety of new features, including new 18-inch alloy wheels, while seen from the rear, the bumper was redesigned to complement the refreshed design of the front bumper.
The enhanced interior included a variety of new features in the centre of the front console housing the cabin controls, including Mitsubishi’s improved new Smartphone-link Display Audio (SDA) with a new 8-inch WVGA display and touch controls as well as USB power supply. The SDA also includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The extended list of features includes electric power steering with a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering column, the multi-function leather steering wheel connected to the new SDA as well as cruise control, fully automatic air-conditioning and power windows front and rear.
The ASX uses the latest version of this 2,0-litre MIVEC aluminium engine, offering 110 kW at 6 000 r/min and 197 Nm at 4 200 r/min.
It has slightly more power than the three aforementioned rivals but marginally less torque than the Suzuki or the Volkswagen.
Driving through the INVECS-III 6-step CVT, there is a new ‘Ds’ position for the Sport Mode gear shift control, which maintains sport mode even after a stop.
Regular readers will know I am not a fan of CVT transmissions but have to admit I could live with this one that seems to be able to find a suitable ratio with greater ease than many rivals on the market. Equally, putting it into Sport mode does give a satisfactory sense of urgency to proceedings – ideal for overtaking safely.
As Mrs W pointed out, visibility from the driving position is good and being able clearly to see the front corners of the car means it can be accurately positioned when pressing on a bit through a nicely ‘swoopy’ bit of road or venturing off the beaten track onto dirt roads.
The bigger wheels, Automatic Stability and Traction Control (ASTC) add to the driving confidence around potholes or on deteriorated road surfaces.
The ASX has a towing capacity of 750 kg for the CVT (unbraked), with 1 206 litres of cargo capacity with the rear seats folded down (406 litres with the seats in use).
Passive and active safety technology includes seven crash bags and RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) Body Construction that is an all-direction collision safety design.
The ASX’s safety performance includes Side Impact Protection Bars in the doors, a Collapsible Steering Column, Brake Pedal Recession Protection and Whiplash Injury Reduction Seats.
The overall test average consumption came in at 7,9 l/100 km, while highway cruising dropped this to 7,2 l/100 km. It is somewhat heavier than the turbo engines of its price rivals and it also emits more CO2 – 184 g/km.
However, after a week with the car, it was extremely difficult to fault the opinion of Mrs W (who would dare anyway!) and the more I drove it, the better I liked it for being a simple, uncomplicated and practical mode of transportation.
The ASX is covered by Mitsubishi Motors’ Manufacturer’s Warranty of 3 years or 100 000 km, a 5-year / 90 000 km Service Plan and a 5-year / unlimited mileage Roadside Assistance. Service intervals are scheduled at every 15 000 km or once a year.