First Look: 2011 Mitsubishi ASX

Hope you like that Lancer nose, because it's here to stay. It's already spread to the Outlander and the Europe-only Colt and now it's spread to the new Outlander Sport compact crossover that premiered today in Geneva as the European-spec ASX.

Mitsubishi spent at least as much time during its press conference today talking about the future as it did about the ASX, as the two are strongly linked. The ASX, which we'll see here in the future as the Outlander Sport, marks the debut of Mitsubishi's new 1.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel, which the company claims is the first ever to offer variable valve timing on a diesel engine in a passenger vehicle. The new mill and its variable-geometry turbocharger make 148 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque while emitting only 0.51 to 0.53 pound of CO2 per mile depending on whether it's driving two wheels or all four.

The ASX also packs a number of green features including low rolling-resistance tires, regenerative braking and auto stop/start technology. All together, Mitsubishi says these features will help the ASX 41 mpg on the European Urban Cycle, 49 mpg on the European Extra-Urban Cycle and 34 mpg on the European Combined Cycle. Also helping is a relatively low curb weight of 3300 pounds for two-wheel-drive models and 3400 for Electronic All-Wheel-Drive models.

The European ASX model will go on sale in the Spring following its debut in Geneva, but an exact on-sale date for the U.S. Outlander Sport model hasn't been set. We hope to see it by the end of the year, but we probably won't be getting the slick new diesel. U.S. offerings are likely to use Mitsubishi's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engines.

That's not the end of the story, though. This new diesel is expected to make its way into other Mitsubishi products in the future and is already confirmed for European Lancers. These new diesel models will be the first wave of greener cars from Mitsubishi, which will include more EVs like the i-Miev and new plug-in hybrids coming in 2013 based off of the PX-MiEV concept. By 2020, Mitsubishi hopes to have plug-in hybrid and EV models account for 20 percent of its sales, with the other 80 percent made up of highly efficient diesel and gasoline models. Can Mitsubishi redefine itself as a green performance brand? It's certainly going to try.

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