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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Review: 2005 Mitsubishi Adventure Grand Sport


The wonder of an effective marketing campaign is that it sticks right in your head, whether you like it or not.  And while Vinchie and the rest of the Parokya ni Edgar strut their stuff, kissing and rapping their way to the beach, I can’t help but imagine a similar scenario climbing onboard the 2004 Mitsubishi Adventure.  While I have no intension of kissing a fellow man, I do have every intension to test this heavily revised AUV in a field it does best: ferrying people.  When the need of carrying 7 people to the Car of the Year Awards – Philippines test venue was raised, guess which one was the vehicle of choice: the Mitsubishi Adventure.

Of course, the fact that this Adventure is eligible for the awards anyway is a factor, but not the decisive one.  The reason for choosing the Adventure is because it’s the AUV that combined a sense of style with practicality and a hint of performance.  There’s no denying the fact that it’s the sportiest, especially with the 2.0-liter gasoline engine, of all the AUVs.  Now, couple that performance potential with the new corporate nose and the revised suspension make the Adventure one great people carrier.  Only, for this weekend, I wasn’t going to drive the Galant-sourced, 114 horsepower SuperSport, no sir.  Mitsubishi added a dash of practicality into the mix and instead gave me the keys to the range-topping Grand Sport diesel.



The 84 horsepower output didn’t exactly look enticing—as that’s only 1 horsepower more than the puny Toyota Echo.  Still, if there’s an award for surprisingly good performance, it has to go to this car.  Despite Isuzu’s claim to the diesel fame, the Adventure offers a much more refined engine with much better power delivery and grunt.  As far as diesel AUV goes, the Adventure with its normally aspirated 2.5-liter diesel is by far the best I have ever sampled.  The driving pleasure doesn’t stop there.  And unlike even the Ford Everest, the 5-speed manual transmission of the Adventure offers precise and short (for an AUV) making the Adventure easy to drive, even during heavy traffic and even if I’m not that familiar driving a diesel.  The Adventure’s lower gear ratio and peppier diesel engine does have a drawback though: lower fuel mileage.  It delivers roughly 9.5 km/L compared to Isuzu’s 12.3 km/L in a mixed city/highway use.

Five minutes inside, the Adventure pretty much feels like a car.  Although the front bucket seats (replacing the front bench from the previous model) did help, this AUV exhibited much a much improved driving position.  The steering wheel and pedals feel absolutely on the dot despite the lack of adjustment.  The heavily bolstered seats are comfortable for my frame, but people of larger stature say that it’s a bit tight on the sides.  Ergonomics, vastly better than the competition, is only hurt by an undecipherable audio-visual entertainment system and the large 10-inch LCD screen that blocks the rear-view mirror during operation.  The ventilation is quite excellent to keep up with the sweltering heat, although the large metal-like controls make a good stove impression.



Kitchen appliance comparisons aside, the Adventure exhibits ample performance in conditions in which we subjected it.  It delivers good pulling power off the line despite being fully loaded with seven conservatively large adults.  Diesel smoke puffs out every now and then, but given that I’ve just loaded it with over 560 kilos of bone and fat, I personally think that this is the best AUV to have on a trip whether I’d end up as driver or passenger.  Like any other AUV though, the Adventure suffers the same Achilles heel: a popsicle-like ride when driven alone.  Only in this case, it feels sportscar stiff rather than barge boat wallow.  So, with this lesson learned, better have four to five companions (preferably of the opposite sex) with you while driving all the time.

Why four to five companions and not seven?  Well, even if the Adventure does have seating and seatbelts for seven (as we’ve proven this weekend), the third row is best left to small kids or women.  Unlike the Everest, which offers ample space at the back, the Adventure’s third row is too close to the second for comfort, proving almost no slack space.  In the end, it’s merely vestigial.  However, I have to give my hat off to Mitsubishi for at least making the third row, like the second have a split/fold feature.  This greatly improves the Adventure’s practicality—even over its newer competition like the Isuzu Crosswind Sportivo.  Though the vertically-raising tailgate may enable the Adventure to open up on even the tightest of parking spaces, the addition of the rear-mounted tire rack system on the Grand Sport means I ended up needing more amounts of vertical and horizontal space jut to get the luggage out of the rear hatch.



Small problems aside, I’m pretty much convinced at the packaging of the Adventure Grand Sport.  Although I don’t want to give away the results of the AUV category of the Car of the Year – Philippines awards, with the Adventure’s surprisingly good performance coupled with its generous amounts of improvements inside and out, it gets my vote for being the best in its class.  And although I didn’t get the same beach and babes fun as the Parokya ni Edgar commercial, at least for that weekend, I couldn’t help but imagine being in their shoes.  Again, minus the man kissing.

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