Mitsubishi's ASX softroader has been rejigged for 2014, but it's more of a sweetening of the deal than an actual upgrade. The Japanese wagon's chiselled exterior styling remains untouched and though the range has been expanded to include a trio of GLS models, the entire range sticks to the same mechanical format - namely a 110kW/197Nm 2-litre VVT petrol engine driving the front wheels. A 2WD petrol is what most people in this segment demand, after all.
As far as cabin changes go, all models now sport a dark titanium centre panel and GL and GLX models gain an upgraded audio system with four speakers and two tweeters.
If we take a stroll through the range, the starting point is the 2.0 GL at R284 900. With a standard features kitty that includes cruise control, multi-function leather-covered steering wheel, Bluetooth and hands-free voice control, rear park distance control, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, seven airbags and 16-inch alloys, the base model is anything but a poverty pit.
Up the budget to R309 900 and the GLX adds leather seats (heated up front), electric adjustment for the driver's seat, a touch screen with reverse camera, panoramic roof with LED illumination, automatic climate control, keyless start and 17-inch alloys.
The new GLS range starts at R322 900 for the manual model and the party trick here is a nine-speaker Rockford Fosgate sound system with a 500W subwoofer. Indulging in the GLS also brings some extra safety features in the form of traction control, hill start assist and a chromatic mirror.
The aforementioned models all come with a five-speed manual gearbox, but the GLS can also be ordered with a continuously variable (CVT) transmission for R339 900 without the Rockford sound system or R349 900 with it installed.
Mitsubishi invited the media to play with the ASX GLS and its potent new sound system on a 100km route near Hartebeespoort Dam in the North West.
The route also included some mild gravel sections and here the ASX impressed as a truly cool operator. The compliant suspension provides a smooth ride and cabin noise levels were more than acceptable. On tar, where this vehicle is sure to spend most of its time, the 2-litre engine dished out reasonable performance and cruised comfortably around the 120km/h mark. It's a comfortable car to drive, with light, accurate steering and smooth gearshifts in the case of the manual model.
It's also practical when it comes to loading human cargo as rear legroom is very generous, although the full-sized spare wheel makes for a 442-litre boot that looks a little cramped by segment standards.
On the whole, the ASX is a solid and well-equipped softroader that fits into the lower end of the segment's price spectrum. Also included is a five-year/90 000km service plan.
However, it is starting to show its age against newer and larger rivals like the Toyota RAV4 and Ford Kuga. The Mitsubishi really is a "not bad" option and upper models are specced to the hilt, but given the fierceness of the competition, I would have expected an even more aggressive pricing position.