IT’S tough out there in the cut and thrust world of the SUV market.

With so much choice available, every manufacturer needs a unique selling point, whether that be at the luxury do-it-all end of the market or the soft-roader entry point.

Mitsubishi has taken up the challenge with a tougher and chunkier new design language for its ASX model. If you played with Tonka toys as a child, and grew up chomping on chunky Yorkie bars, you will probably love this all-rounder.

There’s no doubt that the ASX has never looked in better fettle. There are new LED headlights and rear light clusters and what Mitsubishi calls Dynamic Shield Styling. Also new are the 18-inch alloy wheels and rear bumper, and there’s a suite of safety features including a reversing camera, hill start assist and blind spot warning.

But the changes don’t end there. For starters, there’s a 150hp 2.0-litre petrol engine offered with manual or automatic transmission and two or four-wheel drive.

And although it’s tough on the outside with a robust engine beneath the bonnet, there’s a host of other new features that reflect the demand for higher specification trim levels, including an enhanced new infotainment system that brings with it an excellent sound system.

There are two trim levels – Dynamic and Exceed – and both provide high levels of standard equipment.

I tested the new naturally aspirated engine linked to CVT transmission and must admit I came away underwhelmed.

Even though there’s a six-speed sports mode with paddle shifters, the acceleration time of 12.2 seconds for a 0 to 62mph sprint is disappointing. It feels underpowered, and quite noisy when giving it an initial shove.

Inevitably, this affects the fuel economy figure too. You are unlikely to achieve a figure better than the mid-thirties per gallon.

As I gleaned the information offered in the instrument cluster I could not help thinking that it felt slightly outdated when compared with rivals from the likes of Nissan, Kia and Volkswagen.

On the plus side, the suspension provides for a comfortable ride and you do get your money’s worth in terms of materials and gear, a five-year warranty and prices starting at about £20,000.

Even the Dynamic: version gets the infotainment system with reversing camera, new fabric upholstery with heated front seats, cruise control, automatic air conditioning and keyless operation.

Exceed versions come with a panoramic glass roof with black roof rails, leather upholstery with electric driver’s seat and a TomTom navigation system.

As Mitsubishi’s third-best seller in the UK, the ASX was in need of the revamped interior and chunkier design. Replacing the previous 1.6-litre petrol engine with the new 2.0-litre petrol unit means 30 per cent more power and 27 per cent more torque but I suspect it is the four-wheel drive capability that will attract most buyers.

The system in the ASX offers a choice of three modes for various driving conditions with an electronically controlled centre differential to determine the optimum torque split to the front and rear, using sensor data on throttle position, vehicle speed, road conditions and driver inputs.

In 2WD mode, torque is sent only to the front wheels for better fuel economy and agility.

The 4WD auto mode enables torque to vary to maintain traction on loose surfaces or adverse on-road conditions. In 4WD lock mode, about 1.5 times the torque of 4WD auto mode is transferred to the rear wheels to improve traction off-road. Switching between modes requires only a press of the 4WD selector button.

In conclusion, I have to say that Mitsubishi’s more modern Eclipse Cross SUV is a much better proposition. The ASX remains in its shadow.