Road Test - A head above the rest
Matodzi Phasha was born with a very small body and very short arms and legs. However, whatever she may be lacking in body size, she makes up for in charisma with her bubbly personality and an extra dose of determination and drive… and drive she does! Like most other people, she drives with her feet. The difference is that she drives with her foot on a hand control.
Growing up with a ‘different’ body, Matodzi never allowed it to stop her doing what she wanted, she just had to work out ways of doing things differently. It never occurred to her that she would not be able to drive, it was just a question of figuring out how. Her husband, Mmbofheni, helped her to learn to drive in a way that was easy for her, and together they also chose the right vehicles to make driving possible. She started driving using a Chairman Industry hand control, as her feet could not reach the pedals, but she quickly realized that it was easier using her feet on the hand control. For Matodzi, the internal features of the car were essential in enhancing her abilities. Her Toyota Yaris has given her independence for many years, but being a working couple with two growing children, they needed a comfortable family car that would enable them to go away on their much loved camping holidays. It then became clear that the Mitsubishi ASX was the perfect family car for them.
Being so extremely short, Matodzi finds that using a wheelchair is the best way to get around. This added to the challenge of finding the ideal car as she also needs to transport a wheelchair and load it into and out of the car. With the ASX, there is a perfectly sized gap behind the back seat where the wheelchairs handles can fit through, enabling Mmbofheni to fit easily into a surprisingly small boot. When she is driving alone, she gets into the car via the back seat, pulls the wheelchair into the car and then climbs through between the two front seats to the driver’s seat. Luckily the car comes standard with leather seats, as they easily handle the extra wear of begin climbed on and are quick and easy to clean. Although the height of the car is a challenge for her, her agility enables her to climb into, out of, around inside the car to get to where she needs to be.
When comparing the ASX with other similar MPV’s, Matodzi loved the range of extra features that came standard with this model that made things easier for her. The electrically adjustable seat makes the biggest difference as she always needed help to change the manually adjustable seat of her Yaris. Since she and Mmbofheni both drive the car, they needed a large range of seat adjustability to meet their very different needs, and the ASX provides that. The media and voice activated Bluetooth controls on the steering enable her to conveniently take calls while driving without taking her hands off the steering wheel. The cruise control makes a big difference when driving long distances, as it takes the stress off using the hand control.
Because of her unique physique, she has always had limited range of movement in her neck, making reversing a challenge as she cannot twist round to see behind her. The ASX has a rear view camera, so she now just has to watch the screen on the dashboard when reversing. The push button start and central locking, along with the rain sensing windscreen wipers and Dusk Sensing Headlights, all simplify the challenge of driving and enhance the pleasure. The High Intensity Discharge Headlamps turn night time driving into day time driving and the panoramic roof is just the cherry on top!
The Power Steering is an essential feature for anyone who drives with hand controls and this in combination with the phenomenal list of safety features, including the Active Stability Control and Electronic Traction Control, has already been tested by Matodzi when an oncoming vehicle squeezed her off the shoulder of the road, pushing one wheel onto the dirt at about 100kmph – and she had no difficulty controlling the vehicle. As with most people choosing a car, the safety features were really important. The ASX has a full complement of airbags, electronic braking systems and Impact protection systems.
The Mitsubishi ASX falls into the category of compact SUV (Sports Utility Vehicles). This is an extremely competitive segment of the vehicle market because families are generally looking for slightly larger cars with more space.
With the fuel prices on a rapid climb, the manufacturers of SUV’s have been under a lot of pressure to develop more efficient engines and the Mitsubishi ASX is amongst the more efficient SUV’s with a CVT gearbox, at 7.6l/100km, making the low fuel consumption yet another enticing feature for such a large vehicle. On the 63l petrol tank, it can apparently travel 800kms! The 2.0l Multi Point Fuel injected engine has a maximum output of 110kW at 6000rpm and a maximum torque of 197Nm at 4200Rpm.
With a price tag of only R339 900 for the 2.0 MPi CVT, Matodzi felt that it as the most affordable vehicle in its class with all the extra features thrown in. For people qualifying for the rebate, they need to pay the full amount and claim the rebate amount back once the vehicle has been cleared by SARS. Matodzi and her family have always enjoyed travelling and now with the extra space and comfort of the ASX, they just can’t wait for their next holiday!