The Road Ahead : February 2011
STARTERS: HYUNDAI IX35 ACTIVE, KIA SPORTAGE SI, MITSUBISHI ASX, NISSAN DUALIS ST. TESTERS: BARRY GREEN, JOHN EWING, GREG MCMANUS, GREG MISZKOWYCZ. THE RANGE OF compact Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) is expanding at an unprecedented rate. Significantly, the growth within the growth is in two-wheel drive (2WD) variants of new and existing models. According to Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited, about half of all Toyota RAV4s sold in Australia are 2WD, while the Nissan Dualis in 2WD form accounts for some 80 percent of that model's sales. Among Mitsubishi's own range, the Outlander 2WD already amounts to 30 percent of volume, a figure that is predicted to grow to about 50 percent, the same as that already enjoyed by the new ASX. They might look much the same, but unlike their four-wheel drive (4WD) siblings that can claim varying degrees of off-road capability, the 2WD variants are high-riding 'lifestyle' passenger wagons designed specifically for everyday urban use. It's easy to see why they are popular. For starters, because the 2WDs are less complex, the entry point price is lower. And as they don't have to lug the extra weight of a four-wheel-drive system, fuel efficiency is better. Which brings us to the subject of this issue's 2WD SUV comparison. Our starters: the Hyundai ix35 Active, Kia Sportage Si, Mitsubishi ASX and Nissan Dualis ST. Each is the entry level +1 (having optional auto transmission). VALUE FOR MONEY There is not a lot between our foursome on price, but Dualis is the easiest on the pocket at $27,490, $500 below Sportage and some $1000 and $1500 less than ASX and ix35 respectively. The likely rate of depreciation is something of an unknown factor, with Glass's Guide providing numbers for the ix35 Active only. However, using those for the Sportage LX, Outlander LS and Dualis ST 4x4 as a guide, the Nissan potentially holds up best after two years (70 percent residual) compared with Mitsubishi (67), Kia (66) and Hyundai (62). Thanks in part to Mitsubishi's fixed price servicing, projected running and repair costs over five years or 75,000 km favour ASX by nearly $250 to the better of Sportage and about $400 over ix35. Dualis shapes as being some $1700 dearer, due mainly to Nissan's 10,000 km/6 month servicing schedule. For 1400-1500 kg petrol-driven vehicles, each sips ULP fairly frugally. ASX boasts the best combined ADR figure of 7.9 litres/100 km, 0.3 better than Dualis. While they share the same engine, ix35 is fractionally less thirsty than Sportage, 8.5 plays 8.8. On test, the Mitsubishi went the closest to living up to its claims, returning an average of 8.7, the Hyundai 9.3, Nissan 9.7 and Kia 11.0. With Hyundai and Kia both offering a 5 year/unlimited km warranty, and Mitsubishi 5 year/130,000 km plus 10 year/160,000 km on the powertrain, Nissan looks comparatively underdone on 3 years/100,000 km. Standard equipment across all four includes cargo cover, auxiliary power outlets (ix35 has two, Sportage three), cruise control, cup holders, in-cabin fuel release, door pockets (ASX has front only), driver's footrest and seat height adjustment, 60/40 split-fold rear seat, AM/FM radio, single CD player, MP3 compatibility and auxiliary input and tinted windows. All four come with an alarm and immobiliser and remote central locking. Both ix35 and Sportage have downhill brake control and hill start assist; ASX claims the latter. Three child WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 44 THE ROAD AHEAD FEB/MAR 2011 MOTORING ROAD TEST PHOTOS, FROM LEFT: MITSUBISHI ASX, HYUNDAI iX35 ACTIVE.