Makeover no il­lu­sion

We slated it on a pre­view drive. Now Mit­subishi prom­ises a bet­ter Mi­rage

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

‘‘ This is our life­line,’’ new boss of Mit­subishi Mo­tors Aus­tralia Mut­suhiro Oshikiri, tells Cars­guide. ‘‘ This is the start­ing point. A re­ally im­por­tant car. We can­not fail.’’

Oshikiri is try­ing to re­build Mit­subishi, which has been unloved since the com­pany with­drew from lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing in Ade­laide.

The Mi­rage will start well un­der $15,000 and have fuel econ­omy bet­ter than 5.0L/100km. It weighs less than 850kg and has a tiny 1.2-litre, three-cylin­der engine.

A press posse sav­aged it dur­ing a pre­view drive in Thai­land, where it is built.

That has led to prom­ises of im­prove­ments for Aus­tralia. ‘‘ We have lis­tened. We un­der­stand,’’ says Oshikiri.

The car’s un­der­whelm­ing, con­stantly vari­able trans­mis­sion is be­ing tweaked to make it more lively al­though there is noth­ing that can be done in the short term about the cost-down de­vel­op­ment work that’s pro­duced a rel­a­tively hum­ble car suited to Asian bud­get buy­ers.

Mit­subishi is work­ing on a youth-fo­cused cam­paign for the Mi­rage to re­gen­er­ate the sort of sup­port the car had when it was a three-door ver­sion of the Lancer.

This time around, it’s the first all-new model from Mit­subishi af­ter the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis and it no longer has any ties to the Lancer.

‘‘ In two years, three years, comes the new Lancer. Out­lander comes first, then the new Lancer.

‘‘ The life­cy­cle is longer than nor­mal. This is not fatal but tran­sient,’’ says Oshikiri.

Still, he ad­mits the line-up is too old and lacks true hero cars.

‘‘ The prod­uct is old and the prices are too high,’’ he says.

But he prom­ises an ag­gres­sive pro­gram to re­build Mit­subishi, putting cus­tomers first and also fo­cus­ing on sup­port for deal­ers.

‘‘ Mit­subishi is too much an engi­neer­ing com­pany. Now we re­turn to a mar­ket­ing com­pany. This is what I’mthink­ing.’’

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