Mitsubishi ASX v Hyundai Kona

A dark blue Mitsubishi ASX XLS parked next to a light blue Hyundai Kona Active at alternating angles at the beach

Greg Hill

Posted March 26, 2018

RACV pits Mitsubishi's popular small SUV against Hyundai's newcomer.

SUVs are evolving at a rapid pace, with makers constantly bringing out fresh models to satisfy a buyer hunger that shows little sign of abating.

So will a well-established player such as Mitsubishi ASX, which ended 2017 as the best-selling SUV in the country, still be able to cut it against the latest offerings, especially when it’s an in-your-face model like Hyundai’s all-new Kona?

The ASX, which arrived here in 2010, is a real stayer. Starting from a solid foundation, it has continued to evolve thanks to a variety of updates and shuffling of the line-up along the way. But while Mitsubishi’s smallest SUV still looks reasonably smart, it’s starting to show its age, and its bodylines certainly aren’t as bold as some recent arrivals.

Mitsubishi ASX XLS

Price: $32,000 + $2990 ORC (special offer)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Safety: 7 airbags, AEB, lane-departure warning
Economy: 9.2L/100km
Value: ✩✩✩ 1/2

Hyundai Kona Active

Price: $26,000 + $3707 ORC
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
Safety: 6 airbags, AEB, lane-departure/keep, blind-spot, cross-traffic and driver-attention warnings
Economy: 7.7L/100km
Value: ✩✩✩✩


Enter the extrovert

Kona’s extroverted styling stands out from the crowd with its curvy lines, vivid colour palette and two-tone roof option all designed to create a youthful image. While this is a big part of the appeal, it can polarise opinion.

Both ASX and Kona come in front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive form. The ASX, which had a substantial update in late 2017, is priced at $25,000 to $37,500 plus on-road costs for the five-variant line-up, which includes two equipment grades (LS and XLS), 2.0-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel engine options, and six-speed manual (petrol base model only) or CVT transmissions. Lower ASX on-road costs currently sweeten the deal.

There’s no diesel Kona but Hyundai does have two petrol-engine options in each of the three equipment grades, Active, Elite and Highlander. The base configuration is a front-wheel-drive, 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine with a conventional six-speed auto, and there’s also a stronger-performing all-wheel-drive model with a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine backed by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. With both configurations offered across the range, and a Safety Pack option for the base Active models, Kona is available in eight variants, from $24,500 to $36,000 plus on-road costs.


What we compared

Mitsubishi supplied us with a high-spec XLS 2WD version ($32,000) and Hyundai gave us the base-model Active ($24,500) fitted with the $1500 Safety Pack. ASX gets a similar option on the base-grade LS, called the LS ADAS model, and while optioning these additional safety features is money well spent, it would have been preferable if they were standard across the range.

This small SUV category is all about driving ease and functionality, focusing on city and suburban use with the occasional country trip, and that’s where our test cars’ strengths lie, although they approach the task slightly differently.


Mitsubishi ASX XLS's heated front seats
Mitsubishi ASX XLS's front interior features
Hyundai Kona Active's front seats
Hyundai Kona Active's front interior features

Similar mechanics

Mechanically, they follow a similar formula: a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.

The main difference was equipment levels, with additional comfort and convenience features in our high-end ASX including heated front seats, power adjustment on the driver’s seat, smart key/push-button start and rain-sensing wipers. These features are on higher-spec Konas. Both vehicles rely on your mobile phone data for their sat-nav operation via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.


On the inside

ASX is one of the bigger-bodied and roomier wagons in the category, and parked side by side Kona is noticeably smaller, but Hyundai has made good use of the interior space. Neither has anything other than adequate width and leg room across the back seat, with ASX’s marginally better. The typical SUV high, upright seating position is more pronounced in the ASX, making its all-round visibility fractionally better, but it loses out to Kona on head room, which was not helped by the sunroof in our ASX. The biggest space difference is the ASX’s much larger luggage compartment, even though the Kona’s is by no means small for the class.

Kona’s newer cabin design has a fresh, welcoming feel, with a straightforward presentation and clear, logically placed controls. For a base model, front seats are well shaped, supportive and very comfortable.


On the road

Mechanically, ASX is a well-proven package with an excellent reputation for reliability, and even though it does its job without much fuss it lacks the refinement of the Kona and its performance does not have much in reserve. There is also a coarseness in the ASX’s CVT operation that you don’t find in new-generation transmissions, such as the one in Mitsubishi’s recently launched Eclipse Cross.

While Kona’s later technology  gives it a smoother, more efficient manner – and acceleration that’s a second quicker than the ASX from 0-100kmh – it lacks the strong pull of the 1.6-litre turbo engine in the all-wheel-drive version. Kona drivers can select from three drive modes, and operating mainly in Normal mode, our Kona averaged a pleasing 7.7L/100km, against the ASX’s 9.2L/100km overall.

Hyundai has tuned the steering and suspension to suit Australian roads and the sort of use this type of vehicle is likely to encounter, giving the Kona an edge in handling and ride over the ASX, as well as many other standard models in the class. The all-wheel-drive Kona raises the bar with a more sophisticated multi-link rear-suspension set-up and bigger brakes. Coarse bitumen generates some tyre and road noise, and a background of operating noise when the engine is worked hard becomes noticeable in what is otherwise a relatively quiet cabin.

Buyers get the reassurance of a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty with both brands.


The verdict

Despite its age, Mitsubishi ASX still delivers a value-for-money package with the cabin space and on-road ability to satisfy the needs of many buyers, even though it’s a touch noisy. In this comparison, however, the later design and greater refinement of Hyundai Kona makes it a winner.

Mitsubishi ASX XLS

Hyundai Kona Active


$32,000 + $2990 ORC (special offer)

Metal paint: $590

Model range: $25,000-$37,500

$26,000 (incl. $1500 Safety Pack) + $3707 (est) ORC

Metal paint: $595

Model range: $24,500-$36,000


ESC, ABS, 7 airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, auto lights/wipers and ISOFIX child seating.

ESC, ABS, 6 airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep/departure, driver-attention, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts. Reversing camera/park sensors, auto lights, tyre-pressure monitor and ISOFIX child seating.


7” touch-screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital/AM/FM radio and a USB port.

7” touch-screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, AM/FM radio, bluetooth and USB/AUX input.

Vehicle features

Climate control, leather seat facings, heated front seats, roof rails and a sunroof.

Manual air-conditioning, cloth seats and roof rails.

Driver features

Powered seat, keyless entry/start, electric folding mirrors and fully adjustable steering.

Keyless entry, three drive modes, electric folding mirrors and fully adjustable steering.


Drivetrain: 1998cc 4cyl petrol engine, 110kW@6000rpm, 197Nm@4200rpm, front-wheel drive and CVT
Performance: 0-60km/h, 5.5sec. 0-80, 8.2. 0-100, 11.5. 50-80, 5.5. 60-100, 7.3. 0-400m, 18.2. stopping from 80km/h, 25.4m
Fuel: 9.2L/100km (RACV test); 7.6L/100km (government test), 63L tank, 91-RON petrol
Wheels: 18” alloy, 225/55 R18 tyres, and a space-saver spare wheel
Environment: 176g/km CO2
Towing: 1300kg (braked trailer), 130kg towball load

Drivetrain: 1999cc 4cyl petrol engine, 110kW@6200rpm, 180Nm@4500rpm, front-wheel drive and 6spd auto
Performance: 0-60km/hour, 4.7sec 0-80, 7.2. 0-100, 10.5. 50-80, 4.4. 60-100, 6.4. 0-400m, 17.4, stopping from 80km/hour, 26.2m
Fuel: 7.7L/100km (RACV test); 7.2L/100km (government test), 50L tank, 91-RON petrol
Wheels: 16” alloy, 205/60 R16 tyres and a space-saver spare wheel
Environment: 169g/km CO2
Towing: 1300kg (braked trailer), 130kg towball load


12-month/15,000 kilometre capped-price services, five year/unlimited kilometre warranty

12-month/15,000 kilometre capped-price services, five year/unlimited kilometre warranty

Category ratings

Pricing: ✩✩✩ 1/2
Features & equipment: ✩✩✩✩ 1/2
Presentation: ✩✩✩ 1/2
Seating comfort: ✩✩✩✩
Space: ✩✩✩✩ 1/2
Noise: ✩✩✩
Performance: ✩✩✩
Economy: ✩✩✩ 1/2
Handling & braking: ✩✩✩ 1/2
Ride: ✩✩✩ 1/2
Safety (ANCAP):  ✩✩✩✩✩

Pricing: ✩✩✩✩
Features & equipment: ✩✩✩✩
Presentation: ✩✩✩✩
Seating comfort: ✩✩✩✩
Space: ✩✩✩ 1/2
Noise: ✩✩✩
Performance: ✩✩✩ 1/2
Economy: ✩✩✩✩
Handling & braking: ✩✩✩✩
Ride : ✩✩✩✩
Safety (ANCAP): ✩✩✩✩✩

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