Mitsubishi ASX & Honda HR-V

It’s a family affair as ASX fights it out with HR-V

Often in this line of work, we tend to think we’ve heard it all before. Suppose that’s inevitable with every man and his dog chasing every niche so hard – the propaganda gets a bit monotonous.

That happened again just as lockdown started when Mitsubishi rolled out the latest upgrades on its quite chameleon ASX, which has just benefited its third makeover to finally deal with perhaps its only lagging drawback – it’s looks.

Now fully in line with latest Mitsu design cues, angular new LED Daytime Running headlights, a redesigned grille and bumper and a new bonnet fully transform the ASX. Add new full LED taillights and a redesigned rear bumper, striking new 18” alloys and a range of new colours, and ASX is set to impress.

Heard it all before
Mitsubishi tells us that ASX is now attractive and that it brings a variety of improvements and spec to the little SUV first introduced in South Africa in 2011 to open the  Mitsubishi SUV brand to younger families as ASX blends SUV versatility with gutsy performance to match. Now where have we heard that all before…?

Well, a number of times actually – one example being the Honda HR-V, which itself benefited a significant upgrade late in 2018 to bring better equipment levels, while retaining the core attributes of its predecessor. Honda promised us that its striking baby SUV’s  front and rear appearance underlines the HR-V’s youthful appeal. All the same words just placed in different order. Alphabet soup. Like their names too, never mind!

It’s all to be expected I suppose, because these cars are actually intended to satisfy target customers in the same market niche. And that should make for a pretty cool comparison test, no? So here goes…

Like the ASX, Honda’s HR-V SUV gained new-look DRL LEDs – not quite as radical a transformation as in the Mitsubishi’s, but cool enough – and 17-inch wheels in this Elegance trim, when it arrived. That allowed it to continue in the funky small SUV market-pioneering tradition of its predecessor, to even better combine coupé-inspired design with MPV versatility.

HR-V retained all of its core characteristics and benefits, not least of all, its Honda Magic Seating to bring versatility and over 1000 litres of load space. Both get tilt and telescopic adjustable electric power steering, cruise and climate control, power seats, and power windows front and rear.

Step inside
Step inside and the ASX offers a neat metallic, black, carbon fiber and new-grain black leather upholstered haven with a 60/40 split slide and tilt rear bench under that panoramic glass roof. Comparing them, the Honda has what I’d call a classier cabin, to the maybe more functional Mitsubishi, but hey, we’re splitting hairs here. Take a look inside both and your own preferences will help you choose what’s best for you – they are refreshingly different enough to make a choice on that. 

Both also have smart keyless access with push button starting, but the Mitsubishi packs in improved 8-inch display Smartphone-link Display Audio infotainment with touch controls and a USB power supply for your mobile phone and  Android Auto and Apple CarPlay mirroring and Voice Recognition. 

That puts it a step up on the H-RV’s older and more basic, but still quite able set-up that runs off its multi-function steering and 6.8-inch colour touchscreen with Bluetooth, USB, HDMI and standard navigation too. 

Getting technical, the Honda packs a 105kW 172Nm 6.8 l/100 km 162 g/km 1.8-litre i-VTEC petrol four-pot driving the front wheels through a CVT transmission. The Mitsubishi has a 110kW 197Nm 7.9l/100km 184 g/km 2-litre MIVEC engine and a 6-step CVT autobox with a Sport Mode turning the front axle too.

Honda tells us that HR-V has a safe and rigid ACE monocoque shell, while Mitsubishi reminds us that ASX has a RISE body with side impact protection bars in the doors, a collapsible steering column, brake pedal recession protection and whiplash injury reduction seats.

Safety set
Both have ABS brakes with EBD and BAS and IsoFix kiddie seat mounts, stability and hill start assistants and the rest, while the Honda has six airbags and the Mitsubishi has a 7-bag system ‘for increased safety for every seat’.

Mitsubishi points out that ASX’S bigger wheels and automatic stability, traction control and hill start assistants enhance driver confidence on and off the road, and that it has an  improved 1260kg braked towing capacity – which turns out to be a significant advantage over the Honda’s 800kg – and also over pretty much everything else in the class.

On the road, it’s much of a muchness – the HR-V’s compliant suspension ensures that anticipated decent Honda handling and good ride quality, while the Mitsubishi is solid and comfortable on the road, handles well, if a little darty on the steering, cruises comfortably and is quite car-like and economical.

Both cars deliver a reasonable level of off-road ability even in their 4x2 get-ups and if anything, they exceed expectation on and off the road. Both are also CVTs, but that seems the way of the world these days – personally I prefer a slush box auto but these also have stepped sports mode and the Honda even has flappy paddles, if you’re so inclined and the Mitsubishi packs an improved torque converter, damper, final drive ratios and software

Anyway, I hardly notice that CVT drone these days – it’s become par for the course… 

No escape
Strapping our VBox to both of them however proved that neither will ever escape the other. There’s an old rugby saying that ‘you could throw a blanket over the tight five’, when the big men worked well as a unit out on the field away from the rucks and malls and we’re certain that proverbial blanket will cover these two too. They are, if anything, all even, which I am sure you will concur when you peruse the data below.

The Honda however has a certain advantage when it comes to fuel economy and emissions – they will blame that on iVTEC I suppose. And the support side is pretty solid either way – the Mitsubishi’s warranty wins, while the Honda’s service plan seems better, while both have around the same number of dealerships to look after you around the country.

All of which makes it seem like a bit of a tie, no? 

But then we consider price. The really appealing part of the Mitsubishi ASX is however its class-smashing value-for-money – what do you think this stylish little SUV like these should set you back? I bet you’d say around half a million? 

Well, you’d be close on the Honda, if you thought that. But this flagship Mitsubishi ASX comes in a just under four hundred grand – a price to blow your socks off in an advantage that is impossible to ignore. 

The ASX is also as good as anything else out there and then some and it’s priced well enough to sell, which happens to make it the clear winner in this shootout. Especially at a time where value for money is perhaps more important than it has been in any buyer in this neck of the woods’ lifetime... – Michele Lupini 

Car: Honda Mitsubishi 
Model:              HR-V ASX 
Variant:                  1.8 Elegance 2.0 auto
Output:          105kW 172Nm 110kW 197Nm
Engine:          1.8-litre petrol I4 2-litre petrol I4
Drive: CVT FWD                CVT FWD
0-60km/h: 4.68 sec          4.62 sec
0-100km/h: 9.84 sec          9.91 sec   
0-160km/h: 27.50 sec 28.97 sec
400m:               17.1sec                  17.1 sec
400m:                      134km/h               133km/h
80-120km/h:          6.78 sec          6.90 sec
120-160km/h: 13.78 sec      15.12 sec 
VMax: 188km/h               190km/h 
Fuel: 6.8 l/100km 7.9 l/100km
CO2: 162 g/km               184 g/km
Warranty:              5y 200 000km        5y 100 000km
Service:                  4y 60 000km        5y 90 000km
RATED:          7           8