With sports utility vehicles (SUVs) becoming as comfortable as sedans, it is easy to see why more of these vehicles roam the roads.
The recently launched locally-assembled Mitsubishi ASX holds a few hidden surprises which make it enjoyable to drive.
The ASX gives the impression of a car chassis (the Lancer in particular) being mounted on a four-wheel drive transmission, although the vehicle is actually quite wide.
Once you start driving, you realise just how spacious the interior is as you stretch from the driver’s seat to grab something on the left door.
The interior could be improved upon as the hard plastic dashboard was rather plain looking for my liking.
There is also a large sunroof above, which does not open up, but at least lets in more light to make the interior appear bigger.
Boot space is decent, with a spare wheel storage, and can be augmented by lowering the 60:40-split rear seats.
The car’s documents are stored in a nice pouch in the boot space as well, secured down with netting.
The ASX follows the trend, as it is equipped with a keyless entry system and a Start-Stop button.
Outside, the SUV boasts rain and light sensors, which initially had me wondering if I had accidentally left my headlights on or mistakenly turned on the wipers.
The infotainment system by Kenwood offers a number of utilities such as GPS navigation, USB connectivity for both iPod and MP3 devices.
The instrument panel is illuminated in white, with an electronic display for fuel usage and drive modes.
Engaging the reverse gear turns on a reverse camera and displays the car’s rear view with red, yellow and green distance markers.
Moving on to the ASX’s performance, the vehicle holds a 2.0L MIVEC engine, generating 148hp at 6,000rpm, with 197Nm torque at 4,200rpm.
The car’s INVECS-III continuously variable transmission allows the driver to engage the six-step Sports mode for more driving fun.
You can also use the paddle shifters on the steering wheel column to change gear position, and a button located near the gear shifter engages the four-wheel drive.
Other features which help round out the ASX’s rough-terrain use include a hill-start assist button, along with Active Stability Control (ASC) for wet conditions.
That said, the ASX is not exactly the most fuel-efficient vehicle compared with a hatchback or a sedan.
To test the car’s fuel consumption, I took the ASX on a long-distance drive from Petaling Jaya to Malacca with a stop-over in Seremban.
The return trip eventually saw me refuelling the car to ensure enough petrol in the tank to last the weekend test-drive.
Another minor quibble is the infotainment itself, where it was something of a steep learning curve trying to get used to the GPS search function, as well as the occasional slow-to-respond touchscreen.
For a driver who just wants a car with four-wheel drive and some little extras, the ASX is a decent choice.
The ASX is available in 2WD version.
On the road without insurance prices are RM114,743 for the 2WD and RM128,879 for the 4WD.
However, features such as ASC, Traction Control, Hill Start Assist, paddle shifters, security window tinting, push-start system and panoramic glass roof are only offered in the 4WD version.