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City-sized SUV crosses over

Nice looker: with its jet-plane grill and sleek lines the ASX is likely to turn heads.
Nice looker: with its jet-plane grill and sleek lines the ASX is likely to turn heads.

IN MANY ways Mitsubishi's Active Smart Crossover is remarkably reflective of the company that produces it. The Japanese manufacturer is actually a conglomerate of businesses that has evolved over time to include sectors ranging from banking to nuclear power.

Shipping lies at the core of the three diamonds.

It was the basis of the company started in 1870, with diversification coming as the need arose.

Mitsubishi bought coal mines to get the coal needed for ships, a shipbuilding yard to repair the ships it used, it founded an iron mill to supply iron to the shipbuilding yard, started a marine insurance business to cater for its shipping business and so the story goes.

It wasn't long before Mitsubishi had branched into paper, steel, glass, electrical equipment, aircraft, oil and real estate.

And, as Japan made strides towards modernisation after the Second World War, Mitsubishi was at the forefront of space development, communication, computers and aviation.

The company was well placed to use lessons learnt in one sector to excel in another to allow for industries to join forces to meet the market. And that is essentially what it has done with the ASX, with the Crossover sharing a platform, wheelbase and styling with the Lancer and Outlander: a little bit of this, a little bit of that and perhaps one more dash of this in the hope of finding the perfect recipe.

Comfort

The ASX may be a little shorter than the Ford Focus but you certainly can't tell from the leg and head room on offer.

It feels like there is space to stretch out and manoeuvre, and a higher seating platform improves the view.

The interior is characteristically Mitsubishi with the location of dials and the look of the dash familiar to those who have been inside a Lancer or Outlander.

But the soft-touch plastics and leather seats and brushed-metal-trim accents combine to give the Aspire an upmarket feel.

On the road

Don't be put off by the size of the 1.8-litre diesel engine.

It is the first diesel engine in an Australian Mitsubishi car and it packs a punch.

The Aspire makes light work of challenging hills with a suspension that happily negotiates various terrains.

There is a bit of tyre noise but not excessively so, and some body roll is evident if you push too hard, but overall the ASX delivers a smart, comfortable ride.

Off-road too the Aspire is confident in its stride, making camping or fishing spots off the beaten track a realistic option.

What do you get?

The Aspire is top of the range so inclusions are impressive.

Dusk-sensing headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated seats and smart keyless entry will see the ASX stand easily alongside competitors. Mitsubishi's multi-communication system features audio, satellite navigation, Bluetooth and a reversing camera.

Safety boasts the full bag, including seven airbags, stability and traction control, ABS with brake distribution and brake assist as well as hill start assist.

Other contenders

Crossover vehicles are quickly becoming the new flavour, with the Hyundai ix35 Elite ($34,990), VW Tiguan (36,690), Renault Koleos ($39,990), Nissan Dualis ($36,890) and Kia Sportage Paltinum ($38,990) also hoping to lure buyers.

Practicality

The ASX has a classy, spacious interior and a fair amount of boot space on offer. It offers an amiable and responsive drive with added zing when you most need it.

Perhaps the fact the diesel engine is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox may be a bit of a hindrance. An automatic pairing is still a year away which may make the 2.0-litre petrol CVT a more popular choice.

Running costs

At 5.8 litres/100km, the diesel is even more frugal than you would expect. The ASX also comes with Mitsubishi's five-year, 130,000km whole vehicle warranty with 10-year, 160,000km powertrain warranty and five-year, 130,000km roadside assist package.

Funky factor

With its jet-plane grill and sleek lines the ASX is likely to turn heads. Much of the styling comes courtesy of the popular Outlander.

The low-down

Mitsubishi is hopeful the ASX will hold some appeal for young families, empty nesters or perhaps drivers who want something bigger but not that big. With a quality interior, funky exterior and a diesel engine with lots of grunt, the Japanese manufacturer may have hit the mark.

Vital statistics

Model: Mitsubishi ASX Aspire.

Details: Five-door all-wheel-drive compact SUV.

Transmission: Six-speed manual.

Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel generating maximum power of 110kW @ 4000rpm and peak torque of 300Nm @ 2000rpm.

Consumption: 5.8 litres/100km combined average.

Bottom line: $36,990.


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