Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Vince Pornelos | posted November 19, 2010 11:45
Ahead of the curve
Fast forward to today however, and things get a little more confusing. It's not hard to understand why, with diversified demands and needs of the car shopper. Now there are so many niches around, with four door coupes, MPVs, sports activity vehicles and urban crossovers, and frankly, its getting harder and harder to tell which is which.
The ASX is one such car. Introduced earlier this year, the ASX, or Active Sport Crossover, is Mitsubishi's stab at a class of car that hasn't taken off yet. It's part sedan and part compact SUV, all rolled into one; literally (almost) a cross between the Lancer EX and the Outlander. Again, it's easy to get confused with this car, but lets break it down, bit by bit.
For one, it's strikingly similar to the Lancer EX in terms of design, especially with a face dominated by the aggressive jet-fighter grille and the angry, tapered headlamps. Towards the side and rear of the car, however, it shares more in common with the Outlander with the body of a small SUV and a lift up tailgate. The ASX is finished off with a set of multi-spoke 17 inch alloy wheels with wide 215/60/R17 tires.
SUV traits are shared with the Outlander, but the ASX is not as large. Branded as a 'little brother' to the Outlander, measuring 4295mm in length, 1770mm in width and an overall height of 1625mm. The ASX, however, rides higher off the ground than the Lancer at 195mm, and that's a good thing, as the top of the line ASX does feature four wheel drive, though this GLS version is a front wheel drive model.
Inside, the basic Lancer EX interior architecture has been updated, with fresh fonts on the instrument cluster, as well as a new dashboard design. There is seating for 5 adults, with the driver and front passenger having sporty bucket seats. The rear bench has a 40-20-40 folding system, with the center able to fold down to become an armrest with two cupholders. For carrying capacity, the ASX can swallow up to 384 liters of cargo, along with other versatile storage solutions.
Standard on the ASX is a full suite of standard features, beginning with a 6.2-inch touchscreen LCD with DVD, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth. The airconditioning system is a fully automatic climate control system while for convenience, the ASX is equipped with a long list of power features with power windows, mirrors, locks and a smart key with a push start ignition system. This GLS model gets satellite navigation, magnesium paddle shifters, steering wheel audio controls and headlamp washers.
At the heart of the ASX is is the same 4B11 engine found in the Lancer EX. Along with Mitsubishi's Innovative Valve Timing Electronic Control, or MIVEC, the engine pumps out a healthy 150 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 197 newton-meters of torque at 4200 rpm. Being a GLS variant, the engine is fitted with Mitsubishi's efficient INVECS-III continuously variable transmission for efficient, convenient driving, but has a manual override to function as a 6-speed via the paddle shifters or the more conventional shiftknob.
Driving the ASX is a very familiar experience to that of the Lancer EX GT-A. The seating position is more upright like the Outlander's and gives a better, more commanding view of the road ahead. However, in terms of handling, it's quite close to that of the Lancer with the same suspension set up (MacPherson up front, multi-link in the back), with a touch more give in terms of ride firmness for a more comfortable ride.
Being a good performer on the straights and the corners, the ASX can be easily reined in by 4 powerful disc brakes, as well as a high level of safety kit with dual airbags, ABS and the Mitsubishi RISE body as standard, and all comes at a pricetag under PhP 1.3M.
It may be confusing at first to tell what niche the ASX is filling, but with this new crossover, Mitsubishi not only continues their steadfast rise from the troubles of the past, but getting ahead of the curve as well.