Mitsubishi held its GCC launch event for their all-new 2011 ASX sub-compact crossover at the Dubai Autodrome racetrack a couple of weeks ago. To make things interesting, they even had a few 2010 Nissan Qashqai crossovers at hand for comparison. Incidentally, the Qashqai has been facelifted for 2011, though changes are minimal.
Mitsubishi says that they used the Qashqai as their benchmark when designing the ASX. The 2011 Mitsubishi ASX is interesting in that it is built on the Outlander platform, and therefore has the exact same wheelbase as its bigger sibling, but with the front and rear ends shortened. That means the legroom inside is the same as the Outlander, with only headroom slightly less and cargo volume cut down to make it a subcompact.
This was immediately apparent, as the ASX seems to have better rear legroom compared to the Qashqai, even though the Nissan is slightly longer in overall length. The ASX also has better headroom than certain larger crossovers such as the swoopy new Kia Sportage. However, people close to six feet tall will have their heads very close to the roof in the back seat.
Continuing the comparison, the 2010 Qashqai has generous amounts of soft-touch plastics, especially on the whole dashboard and along all the upper door sills. The ASX has soft-touch materials only on the passenger-facing parts of the dashboard, and the upper sills of the front doors only. It is still a step up from the larger Outlander, which has only hard plastics throughout.
Our time spent on the track with either vehicle was so brief that it’s hard to judge differences between the ASX and the Qashqai. Both handle the track rather decently, considering they are both tall-riding SUV-wannabes. These crossovers are simply cars with taller bodies, and drive just as well on the track, handling sharp corners and S-curves without feeling the least bit tipsy. Both come with buzzy 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engines, CVT transmissions, four-wheel-disc brakes and a choice of front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. And both were outclassed by the Mitsubishi Eclipse pace car we were following.
If we had to guess, we’re inclined to say the Qashqai possibly exhibited a bit more body roll on the turns and had less feedback from the controls. The Qashqai also seemed to understeer more towards the outside of the turns with front tyres squealing more than those of the ASX, although that could be down to the rubbers.
Ride quality is impossible to determine on the super-smooth racetrack, and we don’t remember much about wind noise as we were busy staying between the lines. Our photographer also had a go in both cars, and he claims the ASX offers smoother “shifts” than the Qashqai when using the manual function on the CVT, although I feel that is a pointless observation. At least the a/c seemed up to the task in both cars.
As it appears, the Mitsubishi ASX offers a better overall value than the Nissan Qashqai in terms of total equipment, space and pricing. Styling is subjective, but Nissan’s Qashqai so far looks to be popular with family men with limited means, while Mitsubishi openly claims they are targeting the ASX at women, even if its angry face says otherwise.
Event photos by Faisal Khatib. Other photos supplied by manufacturer.