Car Review: 2018 Mitsubishi ASX XLS Diesel AWD

Mitsubishi has a long and proud history with off road capable vehicles and continues that with the ASX range. A Wheel Thing spends time with the top of the range 2018 Mitsubishi ASX XLS, complete with the same 2.2L diesel as found in the Outlander, and seven speed CVT plus a six speed manual lower in the range.The range itself also offers a petrol 2.0-litre engine, and will power down via the front wheels or come with an all wheel drive system. It’s a mid-sized five seater, in the same bracket as theToyota RAV4. Mitsubishi is offering driveaway pricing deals at the time of writing, with the range starting at an easy on the wallet $24,990 for the LS 2WD petrol. Our test car is priced from $39,990.The engine is good for 110kW, and 360Nm between 1500 to 2750 rpm, making normal driving as easy as blinking. The CVT is well sorted, taking the right foor command and turning it into forward motion easily. The torque allows quick acceleration however doesn’t seem to be as comfortable with overtaking as Suzuki’s Vitara. Economy is good too, with a final figure of 5.9 litres of diesel consumed per 100 kilometres.

Inside, the ASX clearly shows its family oriented design, with leather accented cloth seats, digital radio, a sliding cloth screen for the full length glass roof, plenty of bottle and cup holders, USB charging ports BUT dips out on rear seat air vents and ventilation for the from seats, an almost unforgivable oversight for the Australian market. The plastics are hard to the touch, needing a more modern feel with padding and a softer feel where padding isn’t required. Also, the ovoid design of the console is now showing its age, needing a move to a more human encompassing design. However, cargo room is also looking good, with room for shopping, bags for the weekend way and suchlike, with 393L available with the rear seats up and increasing to to 1143L with the seats folded. Being a compact car in overall length, rear leg room is slightly compromised, with anyone from 180 cm and up maybe feeling a little cramped, but there’s plenty of head and shoulder room, front and rear.Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, as are DAB/AM/FM (no CD) as is Bluetooth streaming via the 7.0-inch touchscreen. But the reliance on the two smartphone apps means no built in sat nav, even though GPS, showing the coordinates but no navigation, is there. And currently the apps have to be accessed via the phones being connected with cables, a somewhat clunky method and untidy as well.Being the top of the range means loading up with plenty of safety features and the ASX XLS gets the supreme pizza, with Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, and Euro style flashing brake lights for the Emergency Stop System. Autonomous Emergency Braking is not yet fitted to the range however. A reverse camera is standard across the range, as are the ISOFIX child seat mounts and pretensioning seatbelts, Hill Start Assist, and seven airbags including driver’s kneebag.

Back to the driving habits and it’s a typical diesel; floor it and it’ll hesitate as the turbo spools up before kicking the tyres into action. Breathe the right foot over the throttle and you can watch the numbers change quickly and quietly. Economy is rated as 6.0L/100km on a combined cycle from a 60-litre tank and with the ASX being a middleweight, at 1540kg before fuel and passengers, there’s a useable torque to weight ratio. As a result it’ll get off the line, even with the CVT, with a solid rush.When it comes to dimensions, there’s a 2670mm wheelbase hiding inside that compact body, meaning you’ll get a sure footed handling and composed ride in combination with the struts and multi-link suspension. Rubber is from Bridgestone, and they’re 225/55/18s. Exterior styling owes much, like the original Outlander, to the Lancer sedan, with the ASX sporting the same sharp edged, bluff prow. At each corner up front are almost vertical LED driving lights and there’s splashes of chrome. It’s assertive and appealing.The ASX is easy to live with on road, with the steering being light, but attached enough so you don’t find you’re missing out on contact with what’s happening up front. Point and shoot style is how the ASX XLS works and the flexibility of the peak torque makes city driving an absolute doddle. The CVT has no manual mode available via the gear selector, so if you use the paddle shifters you’ll need to quickly slide into Neutral and back out (NOT recommended) to bring it back to Drive, or, when stopped, pulling both paddles back until it re-engages Drive. Although the AWD system is front wheel drive biased, the AWD button mounted in the centre console will direct drive to the rear on demand. If you wish to utilise all of that torque for towing, the ASX XLS will do so up to 1400 kilograms.At The End Of The Drive.
The ASX has received a nip and a tuck here and there over its life however it’s now, like its “doner” car, showing signs of age. Yes, it’s still comfortable and roomy enough for a family of four however the dash design and plastics now lag behind competitors. It’s a fantastic city oriented car with a frugal, punchy, diesel but the value of the Mitsubishi ASX XLS is also beginning to be questionable. In no way is it a bad car, it’s just now not as good as other choices.
Here is where you can get more information: 2018 Mitsubishi ASX range

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Car Review: 2018 Subaru Impreza 2.0i-S Sedan

Subaru‘s new for 2017 advertising campaign, Subaru Do, features the hatch and sedan version (starting at just under $25K) of their evergreen Impreza, in the same flaming red colour (one of eight for the 2018 Subaru Impreza range), so the prospective buyer can see the external difference between the two as they flick between them. What’s not so obvious is the refinement to the shape and certainly to the inside compared to the just superseded version. A Wheel Thing takes the red sedan, in 2.0i-S form, for a week after two weeks of the high riding hatch version, the XV.The interior changes are subtle; noticeable yet subtle, and it’s only when you have the previous and current version side by side that you see things such as a relocation of the armrest on the doors, the centre console storage bin (with two USB charging points), the redesign of the air-con and centre dash, even the sweep of the dash itself (with a lovely looking stitched style for the material) as it meets the windscreen glass. S spec also gets a sunroof with aircraft style overheard tabs for operation.You’ll get an eight inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, set below the info screen as is traditional with the Impreza and its siblings (XV, Impreza hatch, Levorg, WRX)some obviously plasticky buttons (a slight step back from the indecisive touch tabs on the previous system), but there’s still room for a hard copy sound in the form of a CD slot. No DAB at the top end is an oversight, given the sheer variety of stations available.The plastics have a higher quality look and feel to them and the controls on the steering wheel have been redesigned for a more obvious yet stylish look. Even the seats seem to have a different feel. The seats in the S were black machine made leather, again with no cooling, and with all doors and sunroof shut, do not make for a comfy pew to plant the backside.Outside it’s tail lights and headlights, with the 460L boot and tail end receiving the C shaped LED inserts. It’s here that a slight oddity in the design manifests, with the reversing lamp in its own little section below the other lights in the cluster. It adds an awkward and unbalanced look to what could otherwise be an otherwise slim look as the trimmer cluster design would finish off the pert backside of the sedan nicely.

The headlights have been streamlined further, with the S getting LED illumination plus a chrome strip above the halogen globe driving light for an extra touch of visual class. The refinements, as well as the overall profile, have the sedan looking more rakish and coupe like. It’s a tighter, cleaner, look with an overall more cohesive presence, including a slight reprofiling of the shut-line for the rear doors.The 2.0L engine is a willing revver and the CVT in the sedan, much like the XV, is easy to use, easy to drive, and works well. However, this particular transmission was somewhat indecisive and juddery. However, it’s worth noting that this behaviour was more noticeable when it was cold and hadn’t been driven. Manual mode, again, seems to make little difference in speed of change.

However, when everything is in synch, the 115 kilowatts and 196 Nm work to deliver an average fuel consumption around town of 8.4L/100 kilometres from the fifty litre tank holding standard 90RON unleaded, or a combined figure of a more reasonable 6.6L/100 km. AWT saw those figures in the real world.Ride and handling showed the sedan’s rear end somewhat less prone to the bottoming out as experienced in the XV yet still doesn’t feel as tied down as the front. What you get is more travel at the rear and when loaded up with a standard load of groceries, it’s on the bump-stops just that little easier. The steering lightens just a little though, thankfully ensuring you’re still in contact and being told what the front wheels are doing. With no weight in the back, it’s naturally more connected, with a small measure of sponginess the further left or right you wind on lock.

The all wheel drive system that underpins Subaru is noticeable for feeling like…a rear wheel drive car at some times and a front wheel drive at others. Never does it feel as if it’s confused nor confusing for the driver. Grip isn’t compromised either, thanks to Yokohama‘s brilliant Advan rubber, in this case a 225/40/18 set on gorgeous ten spoke alloy and painted wheels.

It’s a chassis that’s adroit, supple, and when thrown into a long sweeper has the Impreza S flat and composed. You’ll get the same unflappable attitude over unsettled surfaces with each corner working to damp out the ruts and bumps nice. There’s the same sense of confidence in the brake system, with  bite straight away and then a easy progression through the travel.The Eyesight system fitted to CVT equipped models is a ripper; not only can it sense a vehicle’s distance ahead of yours, it’ll activate an emergency sound if you’re too close and the computers sense you haven’t touched the brake. It’ll allow distance related cruise control and will also alert if the vehicle in front, when you’ve stopped, has moved on. There’s a swag of other safety features including Blind Spot Alert, parking assistance from front and rear sensors (not fitted to all models though), Hill Hold Assist, Lane Change Assist and more.

There’s seven airbags including the driver’s knee, and load limiting pretensioning seatbelts up front. Naturally it adds up to be a safe car to be in and comes with a five star ANCAP safety rating. That’s backed by a three year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with a five year warranty an option (talk to your dealer or broker) which is available to be transferred to a new owner within the warranty period.At The End Of The Drive.
There’s really not a lot to find fault with inside the Impreza sedan in 2.0Li-S spec, including a great price (at the time of writing) of $33K driveaway. No DAB, (a first world problem), no cooling in the seats (a must for an Australian market car), and a softish ride are more than balanced by good looks, great dynamics, useful economy, and a classy style & finish to rival other Japanese, Korean, and European competitors.

In fact, with the Impreza for 2018, Subaru can put this in the middle of that group and smile broadly, in full confidence it will more than hold its own. The sales figures reflect that for 2017, with the XV variant leading the charge whilst the sedan itself is up by 163% on a Year To Date basis, with 988 new homes for it in October, plus the brand itself celebrates its 34th month in a row of increased sales.

Here’s where you can go for more info and book a drive: 2018 Subaru Impreza range

Car Review: 2018 Subaru XV 2.0i & S Comparison.

Subaru’s continued product updates continue with a revamp of their XV, first released in 2012 and a car that immediately shook up an already crowded market place. Complete with a higher riding look, black cladding, and some cool colours, A Wheel Thing compares the 2.0i and 2.0i-S Subaru XV level machines, providing an entry and top level comparison.There’s little doubt that the external tweaks have sharpened up an already good looking hatch. The tail lights are the newer C shaped LED style and the front gains the slimline look for the 2.0i and the Impreza LED DRL enclosed style on the S. The 2.oi was clad in a funky Sunshine Orange and the 2.0i-S in Cool Grey, a colour the junior members of AWT likened to a sea on a overcast day…The XV started with the wheel arches getting some extra urethane cladding and the 2018 version stays with it, making the machine look more capable of off-roading, along with the 220 mm ground clearance. Visually, though, the front makes the sheetmetal between the wheel arch and A pillar look slimmer. There’s a rear spoiler on top of the rear window as standard and the 2.0i-S cops a sunroof.All XV’s are loaded up with roof rails as well, making the once shortish hatch a more imposing 1615 mm in height. That extra ride height lends itself to easier access, both getting in and out, as do the wide opening doors. The tailgate though is manual, even in the top of the range S, meaning people with shorter arms may struggle to reach the door handle when open. There’s a handy 310 litres of cargo space; handy but somewhat compromised also with the space saver spare seemingly located higher in the overall cargo space. Seats down, you’ll be seeing 765 litres inside the 2665 mm wheelbase machine.Both have the familiar 2.0 horizontally opposed or “flat” four cylinder boxer engine. It drinks from a 63 litre tank standard unleaded and produces peak power and torque of 115 kilowatts and 196 Nm. Transmission is Subaru’s very well sorted CVT which, in the car at least, has less of the slipping clutch feel found in many others. A gentle throttle to start will have the XV hooking up and motorvating much easier… However it’s good for a 0-100 kph time of 10.4 seconds, so any expectation of something approaching rapidity should be put aside. There’s a win in the economy stakes though, with a worst of just 7.2L/100 km and a best of 5.3L/100 km.Although it’s the flat four, the standard exhaust lacks the throb this engine’s aural characteristics are known for. There’s hints of it when pushed hard from standstill but otherwise it’s somewhat lacking in appeal. There’s little road noise as well, allowing the car’s Apple and Android apps fitted system to do its job and, sadly, that’s not that great. The tuner sensitivity was below par with drop outs and static in areas there should be clear signal. The actual audio quality was ok, not great, and DAB tuners would be a nice addition.The audio system is accessed via touchscreen, with the 2.0i having a 6.5 inch screen with the S receiving an 8.0 inch. Naturally there’s auxiliary inputs, in this case awkwardly tucked away in a nook ahead of the gear selector. Bluetooth phone connectivity is standard through the range as well. Inside the centre console storage bin are two five amp USB sockets and another 12V socket. You’ll use these whilst seated in cloth trimmed seats in the 2.0i and gorgeous looking grey/black leather in the S. Yes, the S gets heating but again no venting, a huge oversight for a hot Australian market.The S also gets a sunroof and there’s a tweak here with tabs for the Lane Departure Warning and Collision Warning located in the EyeSight housing. It’s an odd choice given the other tabs, including the off switch for the swivelling headlights, along with tyre pressure monitoring and more, are located in a cluster near the driver’s right knee. Interior plastics are of a high quality, a great fit but the leather look material on the doors could use more padding.All models have Hill Descent Control and X-Mode, with all models bar the entry level having a swag of safety features including Adaptive Cruise and Lead Vehicle Start Alert. There’s the now standard info screens in the top centre dash and centre driver’s binnacle, accessed via tabs on the steering wheel arm and lower left, covering tyre pressures, fuel usage, drive display and the like. There’s also different plastics with the S getting a carbon fibre look garnish and orange stitching.It’s on the road when the fettling of the XV shines…mostly. The rear end is too soft, hitting the bumpstops too easily and even more so with a week’s shopping loaded in. The front end’s travel is too short, with a legal school zone speed over the school zone speedhumps feeling and sounding as if the front end will pull itself out. It’s not a comfortable feeling. Thankfully the handling balances it out, with one noticeable benefit being a lack of need to constantly adjust the steering in a long and sweeping corner. It’s beautiful in weight, requiring some effort to move but not so that it’s going to give you Popeye forearms. It’s well ratiod at around 3.5 turns lock to lock, meaning you won’t be endlessly spinning the wheel for turns and makes shopping carparking so much easier to deal with.The S feels better on the road than the 2.0i, with a tauter ride and more damping in rises and falls. The tyres may have something to do with it also, with the 2.0i having Yokohama BluEarth 225/60/R17s and the S the sole 18 inch entrant, with Bridgestone Dueler 225/60s. The tyre pressures were higher in the S, adding to the firmer ride. There’s plenty of grip from both, with the symmetrical all wheel drive system that Subaru is famous for powering down through all four paws, allowing confident and intensive driving. There’s no lift off oversteer either, as you’d expect, it’s a simple and neutral resettling of the chassis.Although the engine isn’t the gruntiest around, it’s partnered with that very well sorted CVT, which responds quickly to throttle input and is programmed to feel more like a traditional six speed. It’s smooth, shifts quickly, and using the manual change does little, if anything, to improve .The XV starts at around $32500 with the 2.0i and tops out at a recommended price of a few dollars short of $40K. It’s a step up, literally, from the Impreza hatch and represents damned good value. There’s the standard three year warranty and perhaps it’s here that Subaru may need to consider upping that to five as standard rather than an extended version of an extra two years. However it’s nice to know there’s 24/7 roadside assistance.Subaru positions itself as a niche player. A Wheel Thing feels it’s now mainstream as the XV range stands alongside the Liberty sedan, the Impreza range, the Outback wagons, the BRZ and sporty WRX and STi, as offering a car that provides everything the discerning small to mid-sized SUV buyer would want.
Here is where you’ll find the XV and where you can configure one to suit your needs: 2018 Subaru XV

Car Review: 2017 Holden Astra RS.

Holden’s move to bring in its range of vehicles from Europe has already paid off with the fully European sourced Astra. With an all turbocharged engine range, the 2017 Astra family, which starts at $23990 driveaway, offers power, performance, and plenty of tech, as A Wheel Thing drives the 2017 Holden Astra 1.6L RS manual.It’s the 1.6L four here, with an immensely handy 280 torques between 1650 to 3500 revs and rolls off to the 147 kW peak output at 5500. So far it’s a numbers game, including six, six being how many forward ratios in the manual transmission supplied. It’s a delight, this transmission, with a beautifully progressive clutch pedal and a pickup point that feels natural. The gear selector is also well weighted, with no indecision in the close throw and tautly sprung lever. Reverse is across to the left and up, easily selected by a pistol grip trigger on the selecter’s front. It’s a delightfully refined package, one worth investigating, and a prime reason why we should move away from automatics as our primary transmission. Economy? A Wheel Thing finished on a sub 7.0L per 100L of 95 RON from the 48 litre tank.It’s a sweet looking machine too. A sharp yet slimline nose, with striking silver accents, rolls into a steeply raked front window, with good side vision before finishing with a somewhat odd looking C pillar design incorporating a pyramidical motif. There’s a black sheet between this and the roofline and there’s further eyeball catching with the deep scallops in the doors. Beautifully styled tail lights finish off what really is a handsome vehicle.  Inside you’ll find a well sculpted office. There’s piano black highlights that contrast with charcoal grey black plastic and cloth trim on the seats in a checkerboard pattern. The dash design itself is organic, flowing, and evokes the design ethos of higher end luxury cars. The pews front and rear are wonderfully supportive and have just the right amount of give and bolstering. Rear seat passengers get enough leg room for comfort also and there’s no problem with head room for front or rear with 1003 mm and 971 mm respectively. The driver and passenger do not get electric seats, though, however there is DAB for the high quality audio system that’s part of the GM family’s MyLink set. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility along with streaming apps. For those that like to carry kids and shopping, there’s 360L pf cargo space with the seats folded up, cupholders front and rear, USB charger point, seatback pockets, and door pockets as well.The driver and passenger do not get electric seats, though as they’re reserved for the RS-V, however there is DAB for the high quality audio system that’s part of the GM family’s MyLink set. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility along with streaming apps and the leather clad tiller has audio and cruise controls that are pure GM in their ease of use. For those that like to carry kids and shopping, there’s 360L pf cargo space with the seats folded up, cupholders front and rear, USB charger point, seatback pockets, and door pockets as well.It’s its road manners and driveability where the Astra RS really shines. The six speed manual is fluid, smooth, and completely complements the torque delivery of the 1.6L powerplant. What makes the Astra RS a delight to drive is the beautifully balanced suspension. It really is one of the best ride packages you’ll find. Period. The suppleness of the suspension is deft in its ability to change with road surface changes, whilst it firms up to provide a sporting feel when required. Rubber is from France, with lightning bolt 17 inch alloys wrapped in Michelin 225/45 tyres.From smooth freeway surfaces such as those found in western Sydney where some areas have been freshly resurfaced, to gravelled and rutted entrance roads, the Astra RS feels comfortable and poised across these and every surface in between. Thrown into off camber turns the hatch sits flat and under control and rarely does the rear end feel as if it’s not attached to the front. The steering itself is weighted just so, with a fine balance of effort versus connection to the front. There’s a bare hint of understeer being a front wheel drive car and while hint ar torque steer when the go pedal is given a hard push from standstill.Holden will give you a three year or one hundred thousand kilometre warranty, which, given the levels of warranty offered by others is starting to look a little dated. However they do offer Lifetime Capped Price Servicing plus you can take the car for a twenty four hour test drive to make up your own mind. Yes, you’ll find driver aids on board and the RS gets Automatic Emergency Braking in the suite of aids.

At The End Of The Drive.

The RS Astra, priced in the mid twenty thousand dollar range, is perhaps one of the most complete packages you can buy as a driver’s car. A torquey engine, a slick manual transmission, a comfortable office and with enough tech on board for emjoyment and safety, plus a beautifully tuned chassis add up to provide one of the most pleasureable drive experiences available. And that price makes it a competitive package in regards to value as well. Go here to check it out plus look at the new sedan: 2017 Holden Astra hatch range