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Mitsubishi Mirage review (2013 onwards)
Mitsubishi Mirage: summary
The Mirage is Mitsubishi’s all-new small supermini city car for 2013. With class-leading efficiency it sure does look good on paper, but what’s it actually like to drive?
What: Mitsubishi Mirage
Where: Woburn, UK
Date: March 2013
Price: £8,999 - £12,999
Key rivals: Chevrolet Spark, Dacia Sandero, Fiat Panda, Kia Picanto, Nissan Micra, SEAT Mii, Skoda Citigo, Suzuki Splash, Volkswagen Up!
We like: prioritises efficiency and comfort, spacious for its size, competitively priced
We don’t like: refinement, bouncy damping, dull steering
Mitsubishi Mirage: first impressions
This is the new Mitsubishi Mirage, which replaces the Mitsubishi Colt as the Japanese firm’s entrant in the small supermini and city car sectors.
Prices start at £8,999, so while the Mirage isn’t about to challenge the Dacia Sandero for the title of cheapest car in the UK, it is firmly targeted at the value end of the spectrum. Chief rivals are acknowledged as the Nissan Micra, the Suzuki Splash, the Chevrolet Spark and – ominously – the Kia Picanto.
Supporting its cost effectiveness, the Mirage has been built from the ground up to be extremely efficient. As a result, every single variant in the two-engine range is exempt from road tax and the London Congestion Charge, even if you pick the top spec automatic. The first time an entire model range has ever achieved a zero tax rating across the board.
The Mirage is also roomy for its compact size, the lightest five-door in its class, and has it the tightest turning circle. So for nipping around town, it sounds like it could be ideal. But does actually driving it make us want one?
Mitsubishi Mirage: performance
We’ll leave you to make your own mind up about the way this little Mitsubishi looks (off of the 90s, you say? we couldn’t possibly comment). But it is worth mentioning that the exterior is substantially shaped by aerodynamics, which is another area where the Mirage takes the best in class honours.
Mitsubishi has gone for soft and squishy instead of taut and precise when it comes to the handling
Being slippery through the air is good news for fuel economy and performance, especially at motorway speeds. Handy when the biggest engine on offer is a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol producing a scant 80hp.
We drove this in combination with the regular five-speed manual gearbox. It’s a perky unit, with an eager-to-please nature that’s well suited to the earful of character-packed three-pot thrum it delivers when pressing on.
You’ll need to work the gearbox, but this is slick enough to make this more of a joy than a chore. Thus equipped, and cunningly manipulated, the Mirage also avoids feeling out of its depth on the motorway. You’ll be enduring quite a bit of noise, though.
Whether the entry level "Mirage 1" specification will cope as well is another matter, since this is only available with a 1.0-litre triple, producing 71hp. Sadly, neither the smaller engine nor the 1.2 CVT automatic were available for us to try at this stage.
Mitsubishi Mirage: ride and handling
Mitsubishi has gone for soft and squishy instead of taut and precise when it comes to the Mirage’s handling.
To be completely honest, the first car we drove had very odd steering indeed. But having sampled a second this seems to have been a blip, rather than a true representation. Customers can expect light weighting with reasonably convincing resistance, even if there is a slight dead spot whenever you start turning the wheel.
Rear legroom is actually better than the previous Colt, which was a bigger car
The Mirage does its best to smoother away the worst lumps and bumps in the road, and even rides out potholes with refreshingly little drama. The downside to this softly-softly approach is that the damping quickly runs out of ideas in extremes.
So if you hit a series of bumps in short succession you’ll find yourself bouncing around in the seat; throw in some enthusiastic cornering, and your passengers will soon be voicing their displeasure.
But hey, how many Mirage buyers are going to drive the car like that? If comfort is key, then Mitsubishi has set the bar about right.
Mitsubishi Mirage: interior
The Mirage comes in three grades, simply labelled 1, 2 and 3. You get electric front windows and a CD-stereo equipped with a USB socket on all versions, but you’ll need a £10,999 Mirage 2 for air conditioning.
The 2 will also set you straight for features like auto lights and wipers, electric rear windows and electric mirrors. The Mirage 3 adds alloy wheels, automatic air con, front and rear parking sensors, keyless go and some touches of leather. Prices start at £11,999; the CVT automatic is £1,000 more.
The new Mitsubishi’s major selling point is its efficiency
Build quality is solid enough, and the centre console design adds a certain amount of interest, even if some of the display backlighting seemed inconsistent on our test cars. The steering wheel adjusts for rake, but not reach.
Despite five seat belts, you’ll struggle to cram in a fifth adult. Rear legroom is actually better than the previous Colt, which was a bigger car, and should be fine for short to medium trips. The boot is a reasonable 235 litres, with 600 litres available with the rear backrests folded down.
Mitsubishi Mirage: economy and safety
Here we finally come to the Mitsubishi’s major selling point: its efficiency. Even the worst offending Mirage 3 manual emits just 100g/km CO2 – which means it claims 65.7mpg. Extremely impressive for a petrol.
The CVT brings this down to 95g/km with 68.9mpg, while the base 1.0-litre manages 96g/km and 67.3mpg. With every version emitting 100g/km CO2 or less, every Mirage is car tax exempt under current legislation.
The figures aren’t quite a unique selling point, since there are variants of the Micra and the Picanto that can match one or more of them. But no one else offers an entirely road tax free model range in the UK right now.
Tempting buyers into taking the plunge, an opening offer knocks £1,000 off the price of every Mirage
So, it should be cheap to run. And while you can’t expect to see that fuel economy on a day-to-day basis, the Mirage does its best to help you with its slight kerbweight (845-865kg), simple three-stage eco meter in the dashboard and stop-start on most models.
Stability control and six airbags are standard, and the RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) body structure uses lots of ultra high tensile steel to protect you in a crash. No Euro NCAP score yet, but the Mirage has been rated best in class for safety in Japan.
Mitsubishi Mirage: the MSN Cars verdict
In an effort to tempt buyers into taking the plunge, Mitsubishi has an opening offer that knocks £1,000 off the price of every Mirage. So you could buy the basic Mirage 1 for just £6,999 – or the range-topping Mirage 3 from just £10,999.
But should you? The car’s efficiency credentials certainly make a splash, and the low running costs they suggest will no doubt find some appeal. Add in three-year servicing packages that start from as little as £350 and some strong finance deals, and if you want a no-nonsense runabout, it could be for you.
The trouble is, you could also buy a Kia Picanto. Which caters to much the same market and is similarly priced, yet is also better to drive, more modern to look at and comes with a seven-year warranty compared to the Mitsubishi’s three…
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