A crossover is a marketing term for a vehicle that derives from a car platform while borrowing features from an SUV. The popular compact crossover segment that has been growing steadily over the last three years and now accounts for over 7.5% of all car sales in Ireland. Best known in Ireland is the popular Nissan Qahqai-the original of the species, the Peugeot 3008-winner of 2010 Irish car of the Year and the Ford Kuga.
Mitsubishi are the latest to join this sector with the ASX a car they describe as new versatile family car with the space of a people carrier, the styling of an SUV and the humble running costs of a small hatchback. The ASX is available with two engine choices, a 1.6L petrol and a 1.8L common rail direct injection diesel engine, and one highly equipped trim level. The 1.6L petrol (Tax Band B) is priced at €23,675 with €156 annual road tax and up to 47MPG. The 1.8L diesel (Tax Band B) is priced at €25,550 with €156 road tax and up to (5.7L/100km (50MPG).
The ASX is built in Japan and the basic architecture beneath its body is the same as that used for the larger Mitsubishi Outlander, with MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link set-up at the rear.
On the outside, the front grille merges with a sculptured bonnet. This contributes to better pedestrian safety and makes the body more visible to the driver,thus improving maneuverability. At the rear, the vehicle is characterised by a sharp aerodynamic lip at the bottom of the backlight and slim slanted combination lamps.
Using the bigger car’s platform does, of course, cut manufacturing costs for Mitsubishi and PSA, which will produce Peugeot and Citroën-badged versions of the ASX in 2012. But, in practice, the ASX loses nothing from having to share its underpinnings. The longer wheelbase allows for good interior space and gives the ASX some of the shortest overhangs in the class.
ON THE ROAD
The ASX is powered by a brand new all-aluminum DOHC 16v 4-cylinder common rail direct injection “low impact” Euro 5 Diesel engine, jointly developed by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
This 1.8L engine features innovative technologies including a new variable geometry turbocharger and high-efficiency combustion characteristics. The highlight of this technology is Mitsubishi’s proprietary MIVEC variable valve timing system, a world first for a passenger car Diesel engine.
The output from this new engine is impressive. It produces an impressive 150bhp but also a staggering 221 lk/ft of torque. This grunt translates into a top speed of 124 mph and 0-100kmh of 9.7 seconds. The high torque output enables the ASX to accelerate strongly from low engine speeds. This makes for safe and easy overtaking on all roads. Fuel consumption is good, I averaged 5.9L/100km ( 47.7 mpg) on mixed driving, a figure that equals Mitsubishi’s claim. This great engine is mated to a 6 s peed manual gearbox which is a joy to use.
Dynamically the ASX does not reach the heights as its engine and gearbox. The road behaviour is unexceptional but perfectly acceptable. While it is not the cohesive and encouraging drive that some small SUVs have managed to achieve, it is composed, safe and not unpleasant.
FOR THE VET
The ASX is compact and it has enough space for all types of practices. Larger than a Golf it benefits from a five door body shell which allows greater access to the cargo. Thanks to its cross-over origins it retains good ground clearance, definitely not in the 4X4 category but an improvement on the regular cars. The standard equipment includes Bluetooth, alloys, leather steering wheel and gear knob fog lights and seven airbags. The ASX comes with a puncture repair kit which includes a wheelbrace and jack but a spare wheel in the shape of a space saver is an optional extra at E170.This is an essential item for the rural practice given the condition of the rural roads.
For economic reasons the majority of country vets drive commercials in practice. However, there are some considering abandoning the van, and the crossover looks a viable alternative. Admittedly the passenger is dearer to purchase than a van-largely on account of Vat, the car counters with lower road tax, less DOE testing, cheaper motorway tolls and even the visit to the recycling centre costs less. The ASX is also available as a commercial. Curiously it is listed at the same price, but of course one can recoup the VAT.