Good car in small package
Drivers are turning towards smaller cars for their practicality and cost advantage over big SUVs, Peter Barnwell writes
THE Europeans figured it out years ago while we still plonk away in cars too big for our needs.
But things are changing for a variety of reasons, including affordability and practicality. If you drill right down, do you really need that two-tonne SUV to go buy milk at the shops?
That’s possibly one of the main reasons Mitsubishi’s Mirage hatch is selling up a storm and now there’s a fourdoor sedan version offering seats for five adults and their luggage in an economical “light” car that sells from $14,490.
Better still is the fact that Mirage scores a five-star ANCAP crash rating and the CVT auto model sips regular unleaded fuel at 4.9 litres/100km.
Two Mirage sedans are available in ES and LS grades with a five-speed manual and optional CVT on the base car, CVT only on the LS.
There’s a fair price jump to LS grade, which sells for $17,490 – a couple of grand more than Honda’s new 1.5-litre, fourcylinder Jazz hatch.
Other competitors are similarly sharply priced, including the Nissan Micra and Toyota Yaris.
Mirage is powered by a 1.2litre, three-cylinder petrol engine with variable cam timing to help efficiency. It achieves 57kW/100Nm and the CVT has a neutral idle function to boost fuel efficiency.
We drove the LS and would probably go for the ES with CVT or even the manual.
The LS gains a smart key and push-button start, auto headlights and wipers, climate control and other goodies but the ES has decent equipment levels too, including voice control, Bluetooth phone and audio that’s easy to sync, aircon, 15-inch alloys and steering wheel phone and audio controls.
The interior is cheaplooking and hard with everything in a drab tone and scratchy surfaces. That’s what you get when you buy cheap.
But there’s plenty of room and the extra 100mm wheelbase in the Mirage sedan converts into more rear seat leg room. Interior room is surprisingly generous.
It has easy-to-operate dash features but no reverse camera.
The Mirage is OK most of the time in terms of noise, vibration and harshness. And available performance is adequate, as it will keep you out of harm’s way when called for.
With five adults on board and the aircon blazing away, the Mirage would struggle a tad.
It has a comfortable and reasonably controlled ride from the suspension and the electric power steering feels OK. The turning circle is acceptably small.
We aren’t sold on the styling but the style is functional.
If we had to, yes. It’s cheap enough to buy and run, probably reliable and has a good warranty. Looking at it on the drive would be problematic though. Two out of five stars.