Mitsubishi is counting on the ASX to pass the aging Colt subcompact to become the Japanese automaker's No. 1 seller in Europe. Mitsubishi aims to sell 37,000 ASXs in Europe and Russia during its fiscal year ending in March 2011.
The company also is counting on the ASX to continue the brand's shift away from large, rugged but thirsty off-roaders to more compact, refined and fuel-efficient SUVs.
As part of the transition, Mitsubishi has stopped referring to some models as SUVs and now calls them crossovers. The ASX is considered a compact crossover while the Outlander is labeled a mid-sized crossover. For the purposes of segmentation, Automotive News Europe considers the ASX and Outlander to be medium SUVs.
Re-inventing itself as a maker of more car-like SUVs is a big change for Mitsubishi, which used to be best known in Europe for heavy-duty models such as the Pajero large SUV and L200 pickup.
The company started its current repositioning with the launch of the second-generation Outlander, which arrived in autumn 2005.
The ASX shares its platform and 70 percent of its parts with the larger Outlander, but what separates the two models is the ASX's low CO2 output.
The cleanest ASX engine, a 1.6-liter gasoline unit, emits 135 grams per kilometer of CO2. The cleanest Outlander engine, a 2.0-liter diesel, emits 183g/km.
The ASX's emissions are lower because it offers new, downsized, more fuel-efficient engines and it is about 200kg (about 440 pounds) lighter than the Outlander (1,270kg vs. 1,465kg).
The weight reduction was achieved through the extensive use of high-tensile steel and plastic parts in the ASX.
Previewed by the concept-cX vehicle at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show, the ASX is 345mm (about 13.6 inches) shorter than the Outlander.
The ASX is the 13th vehicle underpinned by the so-called “Project Global” vehicle architecture that Mitsubishi developed in cooperation with Chrysler when both companies were part of the DaimlerChrysler empire. (See table below for list of Project Global models)
Beginning next year, Citroen and Peugeot will get variants of the ASX to sell under their own brands in Europe. The names of those derivatives have not been released. PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Mitsubishi have a similar deal for the Outlander, which serves as the basis for the Citroen C-Crosser and Peugeot 4007.