Mitsubishi’s car for the people is not what we used to see
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away from the buzzy, fun and functional ’ 90s and early noughties Mirage, and avoids the shady path driven by the soon-superseded Colt with its loftier aspirations and higher price tag.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.
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.
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.
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.
It is yet to be tested but five stars are the aim with standard safety features such as six airbags, ABS and stability control.
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.
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