New Mitsubishi Mirage review

This is the third use of the Mirage name by Mitsubishi but the latest variant has precious little to do with the first two. It's a tiny-tot city-car that competes with Suzuki's Alto, Holden's Spark, Nissan's Micra and the VW Up.

VALUE

Mitsubishi has made sure you'll pay attention to the new, rather kooky-faced Mirage by setting the starting price at $11,990 drive away if you cash in your Westfield $1000 incentive voucher that comes with the car. That's Chinese territory falling neatly between Chery's J1 and J3 on price.

The Mirage is available with a five-speed manual transmission or optional CVT auto at an extra $2250. Metallic paint adds $500 bucks so that kick off price is already seriously under inflationary pressure. Three models are offered ES, Sport and LS with the latter two getting alloy wheels and more kit and Sport having nothing sporty about it whatsoever.

Standard equipment is generous and includes six air bags, aircon, trip computer, multi audio connectivity, leather wheel with multi controls, Bluetooth and power assisted ancillaries. The higher spec' cars look better because of the wheels and other bits and pieces.

TECHNOLOGY

Power comes from a 1.2-litre, petrol three-plonker with MIVEC variable valve timing. It's a "new" engine but doesn't have "new" technology like direct fuel injection, decoupling ancillary drives or auto stop/start - it's all old skool stuff. Funny thing is the new technology would have made the little Mitsu' even more efficient and cost not a lot give the volumes involved and country of manufacture.

CITY-CENTRIC

Designed and built as a "global" light car, Mirage has a number of attributes that lend it perfectly to city driving not the least being its compact dimensions but also available room which is impressive in something so small, a tight turning circle and frugal fuel use rated as low as 4.6-litres/100km. The boot is OK and there are seats for four, five at a (real) pinch.

Compared with the early production models we briefly drove last year in Thailand (where Mirage is made), the Aussie spec' model has a front stabiliser bar, stability control, two-tone interior leather wheel, higher grade seats, more sound insulation and there's been some local development work. It makes a fair bit of difference transforming a forgettable econobox into something you might entertain as a city runabout or a kiddie's first car.

DRIVING

It warbles out 57kW/100Nm which is adequate for a car this size and weight. We wouldn't like to see it with four adults on board, uphill with the aircon' blasting though. Handling is acceptable constrained a tad by the tallish body and skinny tyres. It has a decent ride that copes with rough roads and gives a high level of comfort for such a small package.

We drove both transmissions and think the CVT is a better bet for city driving. The manual needs an extra cog to reduce the gap between each ratio and better capture available torque. You've got to row it along in hilly driving and flick through the cogs to keep it on the boil. This dents fuel economy somewhat.

It's all hard plastic inside but that means it's wipe clean and almost bulletproof in wear terms. Whack the door trim with your suitcase and it doesn't matter a bit. The fixed price servicing is welcome as is the generous warranty.

VERDICT

Maybe, if you lived in a city apartment fronting a tight laneway and drove 10-20km a day to work. Cheap personified -- to buy, own and run.

Mitsubishi Mirage

Price: from $12,990
Warranty: five years/130,000km
Safety: Untested
Engine: 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol; 57kW/100Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual or CVT
Dimensions: 3.7m (L), 1.6 (w); 1.5 (h)
Weight: 865kg
Thirst: from 4.6l/100km; 110-113g Co2/km

SPECIFICATIONS

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