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Mitsubishi Mirage Review and First Drive

by Brad Leach - 22/01/13

$11,990 barely covers half annual fee per student for some private schools in Sydney or Melbourne - yet for the same money you can buy a brand-new Mitsubishi Mirage for your son/daughter to drive to school. A brand-new Mitsubishi Mirage with up-to-the-minute driver aids, six airbags, factory warranty and fixed-price servicing. 



Underlines the tremendous value of this vital all-new model for the Japanese giant.

Mirage is a well-known Mitsubishi name-plate with a good reputation amongst Australian buyers and it’s now making a return in the form of this good-looking all-new model which replaces the unloved Colt in the tough-as-nails compact car segment.

 

Mitsubishi Mirage Overview


Mirage is a global compact hatchback for Mitsubishi and Australian models are sourced from the company’s plant in Thailand. Mirage comes to Australia in three model grades – entry-level ‘ES’, mid-grade ‘Sport’ and range-topping ‘LS’.

All are powered by Mitsubishi’s new 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission or CVT automatic. 



The Sport model gains 14-inch alloy wheels (14-inch steel wheels on ES), a four-speaker audio system (two-speaker on ES), a body-coloured rear roof spoiler and black highlight features for the interior trim.

Range-topping LS adds 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, auto headlights and wipers, push-button start, leather for the gear lever and some chrome interior trim highlights.

The full range is:

ES manual $12,990
ES automatic $15,240
Sport manual $14,190
Sport automatic $16,440
LS manual $15,490
LS automatic $17,740

But for customers who order before 31 January 2013, Mitsubishi is launching the all-new Mirage at special ‘driveaway’ prices as follows:

ES manual $12,990
ES automatic $15,490
Sport manual $14,490
Sport automatic $16,990
LS manual $16,990
LS automatic $19,490

But wait! There’s more! Oder before 31 January and Mitsubishi will give you a $1,000 voucher to spend at Westfield stores, or lop another $1,000 of those ‘driveaway’ prices (that’s how we got to the $11,990 we started with).

 

Mitsubishi Mirage Engine


With combined cycle fuel consumption as low as 4.6l/100kms, the all-new Mitsubishi Mirage has snatched the honour of most fuel-efficient budget compact from the Suzuki Alto (4.7l/100kms). Mitsubishi is also claiming emissions leadership with exhaust C02 down to 109g/km.

All of this from a new member of the MIVEC engine family – a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with double overhead camshafts and variable valve timing. 



Maximum power is 57kW at 6000rpm and peak torque of 100Nm is delivered at 4000rpm. By keeping weight down (865kgs for Mirages with the five speed manual transmission or 890kgs for those using the CVT auto), Mitsubishi has ensured the all-new Mirage provides reasonable acceleration both from a standing start and for overtaking.

 

Mitsubishi Mirage The Interior


That 1.2-litre three-cylinder pays dividends beyond optimized fuel consumption and exhaust emissions - its compact size has enabled Mitsubishi’s designers to fashion some extra interior dimensions appreciated by the driver and his four passengers. 



Like the Volkswagen Up, the dashboard is mostly vertical (again maximizing space). Unfortunately the Mirage, like the Up, provides only rake adjustment for the steering wheel – but the three-spoker is a nice sporty design with nice, grippy leather wrapping.

Height adjustment for the drivers’ seat assists the driving position however. 


We liked the simple instrument layout (a large central speedometer with smaller rev-counter to the left) and the beige interior accents provided a welcome lift in colour from today’s normally dark palettes. Entry-grade ES models run a two-speaker audio system while all other models get an extra two speakers – all have the usual connectivity features.

Rear seat accommodation is on-par with others in this segment and the 60/40 split-fold rear seat provides load-carrying versatility. The hatch is quite deep and cargo capacity (rear seat in-place) is 235-litres.

 

Mitsubishi Mirage Exterior & Styling


As expected - well it’s mandatory in this league - the all-new Mitsubishi Mirage is both compact and aerodynamically efficient – drag CD is just 0.31, length is 3710mm, width is 1665mm and height is 1500mm.

You can see some of the aero work in the front-end – very narrow grille opening and shaped corners for the bumper. 



Overall the all-new Mitsubishi Mirage is a refreshingly clean look which is harmonious (unlike the cumbersome Colt) and contemporary.

The low waistline for the glasshouse and relatively thin pillars contribute to the airy cabin and the rear is cohesive and modern.

 

Mitsubishi Mirage On The Road


We’ve seen a lot of Sydney’s North Western suburbs is recent months so when Mitsubishi sent us on a route from the Sydney CBD to Galston Gorge and back – again! - well at least we were able to make direct comparisons with many other vehicles which used the same route for the media launch! 



Car Showroom got behind the wheel of Mitsubishi Mirages with both the five-speed manual transmission (a Sport) and the CVT automatic (LS). And here’s a surprise – we actually preferred the Mirage in automatic form.

Working the 1.2-litre three cylinder engine through the manual box revealed a bit of a flat spot in the middle of the rev-range which was not so obvious in the auto. And the clever CVT allows you to slip the gear lever from ‘D’ back to ‘B’ for extra engine braking when needed (such as slowing for the tight hairpins in the Galston Gorge).

But regardless of the transmission, Mitsubishi Mirage – like other three-cylinder engines – is able to confidently accelerate for freeway merging and to keep pace with the city ‘Traffic Light Grand Prix’. No Mitsubishi Lancer Evo for sure, but more than enough for say young first time car buyers or ‘downsizers’. 


Likewise in the ride and handling department, the Mitsubishi Mirage is competent enough with acceptable levels of refinement and grip, ultimately limited at the edge by the tyres. In that context the range-topping LS model with its 15-inch alloy wheels was the pick of the bunch. 



Sydney’s peak-hour traffic saw us spend quite a bit of time in the Mitsubishi Mirage and pleasingly the standard seats remained comfortable and the excellent all-round visibility plus the compact 9.2-metre turning circle enabled quick manoeuvres in and out of lanes to fortunately get us to the airport on time.

 

Mitsubishi Mirage Challenges


Compared to admittedly slightly more expensive segment rivals like Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris, the Mitsubishi Mirage misses out on cruise control (Volkswagen Up has it) and reach adjustment for the steering wheel – baffling why those items are excluded.

 

Mitsubishi Mirage Verdict


In the area that counts most in this league, the all-new Mitsubishi Mirage gets right down to business…that would be the price tag. Sharp list prices are commendable but it’s the opening salvo – the ‘driveaway’ launch prices - which show Mitsubishi is serious about regaining lost ground in compact cars. 


So you have to say the Mirage is a genuine contender.

Then we get to the rest of the package – the looks, the fuel-sipping three-cylinder powerplant, the standard safety features and the driving dynamics…and really the all-new Mitsubishi Mirage has much to like.

 

Mitsubishi Mirage The Competition


But it needs to be because boy-oh-boy is there some competition in budget-priced compact cars.

Of course the one by which all others is judged is the Volkswagen Up. 55kW/95Nm from Up’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine but prices start at $13,990 and it’s only available with a five-speed manual transmission. 



Holden Barina Spark just added an automatic transmission, employs a 59kW/107Nm 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine ands is sharply priced from $12,490.

Nissan’s Micra offers either a 56kW/100Nm 1.2-litre three-cylinder or a 75kW/136Nm 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine. Prices start at $12,990.

 

Mitsubishi Mirage Likes:

Tremendous value; nice CVT auto; fuel efficient

Mitsubishi Mirage Dislikes:

Interior trim materials don’t match the best; no cruise control; no steering wheel reach adjustment.

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