OP­TI­CAL CON­FU­SION

Mit­subishi’s car for the peo­ple is not what we used to see

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On The Web - SA­MAN­THA STEVENS sa­man­tha.stevens@cars­guide.com.au

Re­mem­ber the Mi­rage? Well for­get it, be­cause prob­a­bly the only thing fami­lar about Mit­subishi’s next one is the name

The new mit­subishi Mi­rage is any­thing but its name­sake. What you see is quite lit­er­ally what you get.

The 2013 Mi­rage is a new di­rec­tion for Mit­subishi, one that turns away from the buzzy, fun and func­tional ’ 90s and early noughties Mi­rage, and avoids the shady path driven by the soon-su­per­seded Colt with its loftier as­pi­ra­tions and higher price tag. This car treads the well-beaten path to cheapsville.

The whole point of the new Mi­rage is a car that is af­ford­able both to buy and own.

Mit­subishi calls it the global small car, or a car that ap­peals to the masses, and Mit­subishi hopes it also means mass sales, on a global scale.

VALUE

The Mi­rage will be priced around the $13,000 mark for the base 1.2-litre five-speed man­ual, and an­other $2000 or so for the con­tin­u­ously vari­able au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. We will prob­a­bly get the high­er­spec GLX and GLS/Limited, with 14-inch al­loy wheels, key­less en­try and start.

It stacks up as a ri­val to the Nis­san Mi­cra, against which it was bench­marked, and Suzuki’s Alto.

TECH­NOL­OGY

Ac­cord­ing to Takashi Sato, the gen­eral man­ager of the Mi­rage project, Mit­subishi de­vel­oped this ve­hi­cle to be ‘‘ ac­cepted by as many cus­tomers as pos­si­ble (and) with­out ex­pen­sive tech­nol­ogy we can of­fer low price to the cus­tomer’’.

A sac­ri­fice to keep the car’s price in check is tech­nol­ogy. This is not to say the Mi­rage is a di­nosaur; the tiny 1.2-litre three-cylin­der still has vari­able valve tim­ing and dou­ble over­head cams. But it does not have di­rect in­jec­tion— de­spite Mit­subishi be­ing the first Ja­panese maker to use it. Nor will there be any tur­bos or diesels, though of­fi­cials hint at a hy­brid/EV in the fu­ture.

The rear brakes are drums, not discs, and the in­te­rior, while Aus­tralian spec is yet to be seen, will prob­a­bly be quite bare. In this re­spect, it may be con­sid­ered as a step back for Mit­subishi. But with fuel con­sump­tion claimed in the low 4.0L/100km, per­haps it sim­ply doesn’t mat­ter. Not when it might af­fect the price tag.

DE­SIGN

Back to that core strat­egy— fuel ef­fi­ciency through light weight and aero­dy­nam­ics. This is at the heart of the Mi­rage de­sign, ev­i­dent in its wedge shape, squared-off cor­ners and flat back­side. It’s noth­ing spec­tac­u­lar, nor is it of­fen­sive. From some an­gles, it’s even rather cute.

Weigh­ing 830kg-865kg, the Mi­rage is some 10 per cent lighter than any­thing else in its class. The steer­ing wheel ad­justs for rake only and lets go with a thunk when you do so, but smaller driv­ers will find the seat­ing po­si­tion quite com­fort­able. In fact, there’s a tonne of room for such a com­pact car, par­tic­u­larly in the rear, with a flat bench seat and ad­e­quate boot space, and vi­sion for all is quite good.

SAFETY

It is yet to be tested but five stars are the aim with stan­dard safety fea­tures such as six airbags, ABS and sta­bil­ity con­trol.

DRIV­ING

A car built and tuned for econ­omy isn’t go­ing to blow you away with its per­for­mance. With this in mind, the Mi­rage stops and turns well enough.

The 1.2-litre en­gine (the big­ger of two op­tions; the other is a 1.0-litre) leaves you want­ing. The car’s tiny kerb weight helps but it still needs to haul up hills and carry up to five pas­sen­gers and lug­gage, and 57kW/100Nm doesn’t cut the mus­tard.

The lack of power and the hole in the mid-range torque can be fi­nessed well enough in man­ual guise. It has a light, short clutch but rea­son­able feel to its con­ven­tional five-speed man­ual.

The CVT, with no man­ual se­lec­tion, strug­gles on in­clines and from a stand­still with just one hu­man on board. A sport set­ting gets more life from the

driv­e­train, lift­ing the revs and switch­ing off the eco fuel cruise mode. How­ever, it also raises the vol­ume from the CVT.

The steer­ing does not get heav­ier to the feel nor turn the wheels more as lock is wound on, mean­ing more wheel work when park­ing. But the turn­ing cir­cle is tiny, and ma­noeu­vring the lit­tle car is quite easy.

Driv­ing Thai-spec cars on dif­fer­ent tyres and with­out ESP, it’s hard to judge ex­actly what the Mi­rage will be like when it hits Australia in Fe­bru­ary.

But one thing is for cer­tain: with its cutesy looks, com­pact shape, good war­ranty, low fuel use and— above all— low price, the Mi­rage will sell well, no mat­ter what it drives like.

VER­DICT

A shadow of the old Mi­rage but its small price could make it a big player.

Light and fru­gal: There will be no frills when the­newMi­rage ar­rives here next year

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.