A Japanese Odyssey: Nissan vs Mitsubishi

Week one of A Wheel Thing’s Japanese Odyssey has wrapped with the Nissan Dualis safely back home. It’s been pitched against a strong competitor in the same bracket and, although not quite apples for apples, it’s been Granny Smith against Red Delicious, as timing didn’t allow the direct comparison against the Mitsubishi ASX AWD Elite. It’s been, instead, the ASX 2WD.
Both cars slot into a rapidly growing market, the small to midsized SUV. Both are powered by a four cylinder, both seat four very comfortably (five would be tight), both have good all round vision, both have a smallish cargo area with cover.
On the road, both are a delight to drive, having 2.0L engines, with the Dualis having a CVT automatic and the ASX a manual five cogger. Although the Dualis has a preprogrammed six shift points, there’s rarely any need to use them, as a moderate prod of the go pedal has a seamless, linear urge up to 80kmh with the revs reaching around 4000 before dropping off in response to the foot being lifted. Power is a touch down on the Mitsubishi, with 102kW@5200rpm whilst torque is lineball with the ASX, 198Nm@4400rpm.
The ASX’s manual is (mostly) a sweet shifter, with the leather clad knob falling to hand easily and slotting nicely into gears. It’s not one to be rushed though; a few attempts at quick shifting saw some indecisive placement. The clutch is light but a niggle is the placement of the pedals vs seating/steering position. I found I had to compromise with leg extension at full length still having me feeling bent armed on the steering. Under acceleration, first and second are quickly despatched with third showing the 2.0L MIVEC’s party piece. A subtle change to the thrum of the engine and a sudden increase in urge as the variable timing from the camshafts and valves come into play. Peak power is 110kW@6000rpm with torque just 197Nm@4200rpm. The seating, on the entry level, is cloth and with plenty of support for hip and thigh.
A Dualis niggle was a short throw front suspension, with a loud and disconcerting thump as the rebound sounded as if it was about fall out afted travelling over the larger speedhumps at a moderate speed; the ASX provided no such issue.
The Dualis seemed to have the more positive brakes, with similar pressure applied it felt as if they gripped more and pulled up quicker. In normal driving it was hard to split, as both handle and grip and ride as well as each other, with the Mitsubishi occasionally feeling a little twitchier, possibly due to the 16 inch wheels as opposed to the Dualis on 18s.

Safety wise the Dualis has a unique touch; with reverse engaged, a four point camera view is shown on the screen, with a camera in the nose and one each on the wing mirrors. This can also be turned on via a dash mounted switch.
On the dash, the Dualis has a nice touch and look to the plastics, but fails on switch placement and a smaller, less intuitive touchscreen for the entertainment console. Both cars, naturally, have steering wheel mounted controls; the Dualis has a flick switch to change stations but volume controls towards the bottom of the wheel. Above the driver’s right knee is some switchgear that’s very hard to see and reach. No such problem in the ASX; neither was the touchscreen, being a couple of inches larger and with only a power/volume dial on the right of the bright and clear gloss look screen. The Dualis screen looked dull and lustreless in comparison, with less information being displayed. Naturally the ASX also has a reverse camera.
Seating is comfortable in both, with the leather (heated) seats in the Nissan a delight to sit in underneath the full length glass sunroof. Audio quality was fine from both, with enough depth and punch to satisfy. Folding rear seats and ski ports also apply.
With A Wheel Thing due to land in the ASX Elite shortly, a true apples comparison will be done….but for now…let’s call it a win for the Dualis.

http://www.nissan.com.au/webpages/models/DUALIS_model.html

http://www.mitsubishi-motors.com.au/vehicles/4wd/asx

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