In this paper we consider a nonlinear Fokker--Planck equation with asymptotically small parameters. It describes the diffusion of finite-size particles in the presence of a fixed distribution of obstacles in the limit of low-volume fraction. The equation does not have a gradient flow structure, but can be interpreted as an asymptotic gradient flow, that is, as a gradient flow up to a certain asymptotic order. We use this scalar equation as a simple testbed model for more complicated systems of this kind. We discuss several possible entropy-mobility pairs, illustrate their dynamics with numerical simulations, present global in time existence results and study the long time behavior of solutions.