MITSUBISHI has always risen to a challenge.
It has produced some memorable models and then moved on but with a few exceptions like the popular Shogun and L200 pick-ups.
The Japanese car maker has also set benchmarks with models like the Outlander MPV PHEV and it seemed only a matter of time before it entered the booming Crossover sector with the ASX.
That was in 2010 and there have been four generations of the five-door and five-seat car since, improving features and raising prices each time and always appealing to buyers.
Now the range comprises a mixture of 115 or 117ps 1.6 petrol in front wheel drive form, 114ps 1.6 turbo-diesel as two-wheel-drive (2WD) or four-wheel-drive (4WD) and 150ps 2.2 TD in 4WD and, depending on choice of power, it has five or six-speed manual gearboxes or an automatic.
The Mitsubishi ASX was launched to build on the success of the company's big Shogun off-roaders while meeting the needs of modern users who do not need the go-anywhere capability or towing ability but want to have more room than a conventional hatchback, and in some markets it's called the Outlander Sport, reflecting its MPV nature.
The 1.6 petrol engine is a quick starter and has modest performance from rest but it's obviously geared to make the most economy of the five ratios available in the manual gearbox.
It needs frequent up-changes to keep the power and acceleration flowing and when you get into the top ratio you feel yet another gear is needed.
The lack of a sixth ratio on this car was definitely a shortcoming. It means the engine has to work hard through five gears, sounds noisy when pressed on the motorway and you see a low overall economy.
Thankfully the light progressive clutch and slick change through the ratios mean it is almost effortless in town or cross country, just annoying you have to keep changing gear as the engine's power characteristics mean it is not particularly flexible, another reason for the high fuel consumption.
Steering has a good turning circle, its light but retains good feedback, and it did not suffer from vibration or kickback. Underfoot, the brakes easily slow the car with modest pressure and their progressive action is welcome on damp surfaces, while the traditional big handbrake securely held the ASX on our usual test slope.
The simple secondary stalks were well placed and they functioned well with other switches on the facia not too far away. I liked the simplicity of the dials and their clarity, without being fussy. It relies on the driver having a mobile phone to link music and mapping and this is not always possible however.
Heating and ventilation was similarly straightforward with three rotary knobs to work distribution, fan speed and temperature and the system was effective, backed up by four powered windows.
The amount of oddments space was good infront not so much in the back with useful sized door pockets, central bin and console trays. The bootspace had a flat floor and quickly increased in capacity when needed and the 70:30-split rear seats were simply dropped.
For driver and passengers the access was good and the seats were fairly well shaped infront, flatter in the back, but on the thin side for my personal comfort. Adjustment on the front pair meant the maximum legroom was at my limit, a taller driver would struggle, and the recline release was a tight fit against the door casing. Headroom was good throughout.
Ride comfort was on the firm side, even hard over some surfaces. It also tended to struggle and bounce over particular roads with ridges and potholes and the suspension could always be heard working away trying to smooth out the ride. I felt the 4WD tested earlier this year was smoother.
As a result, the handling suffered once you got off a smooth road surface and its natural tendency to run wide, which was easily remedied, gave way to more transient grip.
Different spring rates and shock absorber settings would improve the handling on extreme surfaces and also possibly on smoother roads as well.
The ASX rides tall on the road and it has a comparatively narrow track as well, which can intensify this unsettled feeling.
The height of the ASX gives a better view of the road and surroundings than a conventional car and the thin roof pillars and big glass area mean the all-round vision is quite good, but I would have liked a bigger interior rear mirror. There was no issue with the large door mirrors and the on-board reversing camera gave a very good clear view and worked well with the sensors. Lights were very bright and the wipers did a good job front and back.
I have mentioned the road noise which was ever present and particularly loud over bad or coarse surfaces but the engine was muted most of the time although it became much harsher very quickly under acceleration. Wind noise was modest.
The noise, indifferent ride quality, lack of a sixth-gear on the test car, all detracted from the cars good points including its driver friendly controls, responses and easy to live with versatility and while I was a fan of the ASX when introduced in 2010 I felt it has simply been left behind by more modern rivals and let's hope it's not too long before Mitsubishi come up with a successor which corrects my criticisms.