In recent years, the Philippine car market has seen the creation of new car classes and categories, with manufacturers now, literally, offering different models that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. This year, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation is all set to introduce the new Active Sport Crossover, or ASX, a fusion of the Lancer EX and the Outlander SUV, creating a unique new crossover.

To mark the launch of Mitsubishi's latest addition to its line up, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation invited a contingent of media to experience the new ASX first hand with a set of unique challenges in Clarkfield, Pampanga.

The Active Sport Crossover, or ASX, is Mitsubishi's latest offering in a new class of car, one that combines the ride and drive of a sedan with a higher ride height and space that compact SUVs have been known for.

After the briefing on the first day, the participants got a chance to be acquainted with the all new Active Sport Crossover. The ASX is considered to be a 'little brother' to the Outlander, measuring 4295mm in length, 1770mm in width, an overall height of 1625mm, and a ground clearance of 195mm. The front fascia is dominated by the aggressive jet-fighter grille similar to the Lancer EX, continuing Mitsubishi Motors' exciting and sporting image. Strong exterior lines and a curving roof line make a dynamic silhouette for the new ASX, finished off by a tailgate with multiple LED brake lights. The new ASX rides on multi-spoke 17 inch alloy wheels with wide 215/60/R17 tires.

Like the Lancer EX with which the ASX shares design details, chassis and suspension, the ASX is also powered by a 4B11 engine, but has been retuned instead to produce 150 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 197 newton-meters of torque at 4200 rpm to better match the body. The engine features Mitsubishi's Innovative Valve Timing Electronic Control, or MIVEC, and is mated with Mitsubishi's efficient INVECS-III continuously variable transmission, which can accelerate the car while maintaining continuous rpms, and can run a 6-speed manual mode. The ASX can also be had in a 5-speed manual transmission version, and top variants get a Multi-Select 4WD system.

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.

The ASX has a full suite of standard features, beginning with a 6.2-inch touchscreen LCD with DVD, iPod connectivity and Bluetooth, along with power windows, mirrors, and keyless entry. Safety is also quite high on the list with ABS, 4-wheel disc brakes and dual airbags as standard, and top models even get more with 7 airbags, hill start assist and stability control. Top of the line variants get even more with satellite navigation, magnesium paddle shifters, steering wheel audio controls, headlamp washers and key transponder with a push-button start/stop system.

The next day, participants awoke early to the first of three challenges, which is an Amazing Race style contest around Clark field. Teamed up in groups of three, participants set off from Fontana Leisure Park in search of different locations to match a series of photos given to them. The objective being to travel through all of them in the Mitsubishi ASX in the shortest distance possible, as stated by the odometer reading. Over the route, we got to experience the comfortable ride of the ASX, and the maneuverability of the car around town.

After rounding through all the destinations, the teams headed back to Fontana for lunch, and prepared to go to the new Clark International Speedway to try out the ASX on a racetrack, with a twist.

Dubbed an "economy run", the teams of 3 were to drive around the short course of the Clark racetrack and try to achieve the best fuel economy possible. However, in Mitsubishi fashion, they had a surprise in store as not only were we supposed to achieve economy, but do 6 laps of the track divided amongst 3 drivers, and do it in only 12 minutes; driver changes and all. Most of the teams realized that they must lap in the 1 minute 30 second mark to be able to cover the laps and driver changes in the alloted time, and made for an interesting spectacle on the track.

The teams were given 2 versions of the ASX, with a manual transmission ASX GLX and an INVECS-III equipped ASX GLS SE. Participants quickly got the feel of the new racetrack and whoever drove the smoothest lap with the best fuel economy under 12 minutes won. The ASX was ready for it, proving its stability and cornering prowess at the Clark speedway's short course.

The last challenge was a gymkhana, where event organizers set up a tight course on the extended main straight of the speedway. The turns of the gymkhana were meant to showcase maneuverability of the ASX, more specifically the new steering system, which is now an electronic power steering system instead of the older hydraulic pump. A few years ago at the launch of the Lancer EX, many of us encountered a minor flaw in the steering system in that it could not keep up with quick steering motions needed in a slalom course. The new system in the ASX (with which the Lancer EX shares a lot of components with) has no such problem in the course.

Time will tell how the market responds to the ASX, but Mitsubishi produced quite a unique car in the ASX. Part compact car, part crossover SUV, part MPV. After a day's worth of driving, riding and enjoying the ASX, it's clear that Mitsubishi has another great car in their stable.