If there’s one thing I’ve learned in three years talking to gearheads all over the world, it’s the truth behind the saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Human nature, it seems, predisposes us to want most that which we do not have. This is a long overdue story about something I want, but cannot have – a Mitsubishi ASX – and why I’m glad other gearheads get things I do not.
As I sat down to write this story in September, it had been pretty much three months since Vanessa and I touched down at Heathrow in London for Day 1 of our GBXM|united World Tour 2012. Within an hour of landing, two jetlagged Americans had the absolute best experience ever at a car dealership. Awesome people like Darin, Shona, and Adnan had been working diligently behind the scenes to get us behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi for weeks leading up to this day, but it was Lourance at SMC in Hillingdon who would be the face of Mitsubishi UK for us.
For the record, Mitsubishi UK let us borrow a brand new, 2012 Mitsubishi ASX press car. These are provided to members of the motoring press for reviews and whatnot. Now, as Gearbox Magazine is more tailored toward the enthusiast side of the industry (that is, stories for people who play with cars moreso than shop for them), we don’t really do reviews.
It’s been something of an internal struggle to draft this piece. In fact, I was so unsure where I was going with this piece that it sat for the better part of a year – six months! The important thing I want GBXM readers to know is this: a lot of exceptional people went out of their way to make our dream of driving a Mitsubishi while traveling to meet fellow Mitsubishi owners and attend a big Mitsubishi meet possible and the least we can do at GBXM is let everyone know how much we appreciate that.
ISN’T THE ASX JUST AN OUTLANDER SPORT?
In a sense, yes. It’s also an RVR; third generation, to be precise. I remember making sure Vanessa sat in a new Outlander Sport when we visited the Los Angeles International Auto Show at the end of 2010. She ended up falling head-over-heels in love with the Nissan Juke, but I really like this little crossover.
Here in the States, though, we only get one engine choice – the 4B11. It’s a nice piece of kit, relatively speaking, the foundation of the latest
Galant Fortis VR4 Lancer Evolution, though not turbocharged. Over here, you can select a 5-speed manual gearbox, but ticking the AWD box on the order form relegates you to a CVT box which, as everyone knows, makes it feel like you’re driving a vacuum cleaner. This made the 6-speed manual gearbox and the 1.8L DOHC MIVEC turbo-diesel engine in our 2WD ASX4 tester all the more special.
The ASX4 diesel happily accepted all our luggage in the back, felt nimble and spry even with four adults in it (with room to spare), and was just a pleasure in which to learn how to drive on the opposite side of the road from the other front seat halfway around the world. UK fuel prices being easily double what we pay here in Arizona, I was gobsmacked when I saw the converted charge from our one fill-up at the diesel pump (more than US$110, folks), but I was pleasantly surprised to see we got 67mpg on that tank. Incedible.
THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER
Why don’t the car manufacturers make every model available everywhere? It’s a combination of emissions and safety standards, but I suspect mostly protectionist policy-making. Anyway, it’s easy to see what other people have that we do not and use that as reason to gloss over that which we do have.
I’ve stood around parking lots outside Stuttgart, Germany, telling my BaWü Mitsu-Fruende family how much I wish we got the turbo-diesel Lancers they did, and how I wish the Autobahn was also in America, and how the average German 10-year old is a better driver than 90% of licensed American vehicle operators. They tell me they wish they could afford the insurance, taxes, and fuel required to own the kinds of cars we do, and how they wish they could freely modify their vehicles as we do.
I’ve talked to guys with super nice, old school Mitsubishis and turbo-diesel Pajeros down under in Australia about how much I wish we had all neat models they do, and could explore the Outback. They ask me what it’s like to drive Route 66, or the PCH, or the Las Vegas strip.
And I’ve talked to friends on the US east coast, telling them how much I wish we got some snow here in Phoenix so I could go play with my AWD Galant VR4 or feel like a boss in my 4WD Pajero. They tell me how much they wish they could run summer tires on their street cars all year long, and how they wish they didn’t have to drive through salted roads for months at a time.
Six months ago, I got to drive something I’ll probably never get to drive again (as long as I live in the US) someplace far, far away, with friends I consider family that I can’t just go visit on whim.
There is so much out there that we don’t get right here at home. As much as that suuuuucks, I have to admit it’s a good thing. It’s good because it gives us yet another reason to get off our asses and out into the world at large.