Good car in small pack­age

Driv­ers are turn­ing to­wards smaller cars for their prac­ti­cal­ity and cost ad­van­tage over big SUVs, Peter Barn­well writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

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.

SAFETY

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.

COM­PETI­TORS

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.

KIT

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.

IN­SIDE

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.

DRIV­ING

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.

VER­DICT

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.

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