Text: Inigo S. Roces / Photos: Inigo S. Roces | posted January 31, 2012 11:29
A little bit of everything
Phone, tablet, computer, camera? These days you’ll find them all rolled into one device. That seems to be the pattern with gadgets these days. TV’s are turning into computers, computers are turning into tablets, and I wouldn’t be surprised if phones with built-in printers are just around the corner. As such, it shouldn’t be surprise that our cars are beginning to do a little bit of everything as well.
It wasn’t long ago when SUV’s were considered multi-purpose vehicles. These days, the MPV's are shrinking in size but gaining far more tricks.
One such car is the Mitsubishi ASX. It's a sedan, hatchback, MPV and SUV all rolled into one. Standing for Active Sport Crossover, the ASX can do a little bit of everything in a size that's perfect for a busy and congested city.
At a glance, it bears a lot of similarity to the Lancer EX, bearing both the large trapezoid grille and the eagle eye headlamps. Tires ride on 17 inch wheels. A character line stretches through the body of the car. The cabin stretches just a little bit beyond the last window before tapering sharply, ending the body in hatch.
Yet it’s hard to call the ASX a straight-out Lancer derivative. Despite the street racer styling, the ASX is still designed to do some light off-roading as well. Propelling the vehicle is the same 2.0 liter 16 valve MIVEC engine found in the Lancer but it’s paired to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that can direct power to just the front wheels, or all of them. Independent suspension all around keeps the ASX high enough to clear rough roads but comfortable enough for a family.
Bringing it to a stop is a set of disc brakes on all tires. They’re governed of course by ABS with EBD and Brake Assist. There are three-point seatbelts for all five passengers and up to seven airbags all over the car.
Inside the ASX is a fuss-free interior layout with good headroom. The instrument cluster uses two large and brightly colored dials with a multi-info display in the center. A sporty three-spoke wheel sits over that with built-in stereo controls and paddle shifters.
Over in the center, the in-car entertainment is all packaged into a 6-inch LCD touch screen. The unit plays CDs, DVDs, MP3 players and also has GPS Navigation. A shortcut button can also direct you to your nearest Mitsubishi dealership.
Lower on the stack is a fully automatic climate control system while multi-function cupholders are placed near the gated shifter.
Over in the second row, the rear bench can fold in a 40-20-40 split. An arm rest can fold down from the center with two cupholders hidden inside. For bulkier items, the seats can fold down to increase the cargo area.
Starting it up takes just a press of the engine start button with the key still in your pocket. The vehicle may look low, but the driver seat grants a high vantage point.
Around the city, the ASX is light and easy to drive, hardly any different from an average sedan like a Lancer. The suspension is comfortable and the cabin is quiet. Its got a low center of gravity for a soft-roader making it quite the handler. It’s a very stable vehicle and quickly coaxes those who are easily excited to pour on the power. The ASX will gladly oblige with sharp handling for a crossover.
More control can be had with the transmission too. While the CVT essentially means an infinite number of gears, switching the car to manual mode lets you choose between six close-ratio, perfectly spaced preset gears. It changes just as quick as modern double clutch systems and will more than delight any sporty driver.
As for the all-wheel drive, the ASX is driven by the front wheels by default. Yet that can all be changed with a simple twist of the dial. There’s no stopping or waiting like a conventional 4x4. Just twisting it while it’s rolling already engages it. Switching on the all-wheel drive while on mountain roads makes the handling marginally better. Of course, more care should be taken when engaging 4x4 Lock.
Some may complain about the ASX’s low clearance. Yet testing it out on a rocky trail hadn’t nicked or scratched any part of the undercarriage. It’s more than enough to handle most trails leading to summer houses and beach escapes. Obviously, you shouldn’t take it rock crawling or try to cross rivers with it.
After a week running in and out of the city, whether for errands or just enjoying the drive, the ASX averaged 8-9 km/L in the city.
All told, it makes a fantastic proposition and if I were to get a hatch, I’d choose this over any sporty hatchback. It’s got exceptional styling, drives great and offers just about enough space as the competition. Perfect for the unpredictability of the daily grind. The only thing that holds me back is the steep tested price of PhP1,548,000 for this all-wheel drive top-of-the-line model.
It’s a lot to ask for a very specific niche vehicle. Though it’s very likely that sometime in the future, we’ll find it hard to imagine life without such an all-in-one vehicle.