The saloon car is still popular in some parts of the world such as India and Continental Europe. Over here though, it continues to make up an increasingly small percentage of sales. On the up are the myriad of crossovers and lifestyle vehicles, slotting into every conceivable niche. One of the more dominant genres is the C-segment car on steroids, otherwise known as the compact crossover.
Hatchback body, raised ride height, larger wheels, usually available in two- or four wheel drive, it has almost become the de facto aspirational standard for the family motor. And why not? With poor road surfaces, tough recent winters and their practical shape, the compact crossover makes perfect sense.
One of the lesser known but visually striking crossovers is the Mitsubishi ASX. Characterised by its trapezium-shaped grill (carried over from its higher profile Evolution sibling), the ASX is very smart. It wears subtle curves down its flanks between purposeful arches. The rear is a little scowly – like the child who has just had a favourite toy confiscated – but is otherwise pleasingly unfussy.
While geometry and physics dictate that taller, heavier vehicles should not handle as well as their less vertiginous counterparts, clever electronics and sophisticated multi-link suspension remove much of this differentiation. The ASX is an incredibly sophisticated beast, inspiring great confidence and providing a comfortable ride.
On the road, this 1.8 litre diesel feels nimble – as long as the revs are kept over 1,700 rpm to keep the turbo alive. It is frugal too, helped by variable valve timing and stop-start technology. Handling is competent with mild understeer and braking response and feel are excellent.
The ASX is no true off roader. Road tyres, mediocre ground clearance and exposed shiny paint put it in the soft roader category, but the selectable four wheel drive on this model adds to the traction in sticky circumstances. I had hoped to try the 4WD option while parking in a very wet field at a local farmers’ show but it coped admirably in 2WD. And to be fair, apart from extreme winter conditions, this is probably the most challenging terrain the ASX would regularly face.
The interior design incorporates all the gadgetry one would expect on this top end model, yet it remains neat and uncluttered. Instruments and controls are conventional and the dials are particularly clear. The Kenwood touchscreen has some fiddly buttons along the bottom but once active, the individual menus are reasonably straightforward and the interface with MP3 player is one of the more intuitive. Large mirrors and the rear-facing camera make for easy reversing – both ideal for towing.
The compact crossover ticks many boxes, so it’s quite clear why it is becoming favoured over the saloon car. This top specification ASX 4 model comes with all manner of goodies including leather seats, sat nav and cruise control. With or without these, the Mitsubishi ASX delivers good quality and excellent all round capability.
The ASX starts at £15,999. Model tested: £24,399.
Power: 147 bhp @ 4,000 rpm, torque: 300Nm @ 2,000-3,000 rpm, CO2: 150 g/km, 0-62 mph: 10.0s
Motor Writer rating: ●●●●○
var _gaq = _gaq || ; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-39041076-1']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);