2013 Mitsubishi Mirage LS in Pop Green with black/pink interior, equipped with the CVT automatic
About $17,000 on the road
+ Nimble and quick around town
+ Economical engine
+ Easy to park
– Noisy engine and transmission
– Floaty ride and steering
– Questionable quality
The Mitsubishi Mirage is a fun and capable supermini, but it does not offer the refined experience of some competitors.
The 2013 Mitsubishi Mirage reintroduces a well-known name to the Australian market after a ten year absence. The last Mirage sold well, but with the exception of the forgettable Colt, Mitsubishi has been without a good supermini. The Mirage, which promises generous standard equipment, fun looks promoted through Australia’s Next Top Model, and an easy-to-drive experience, aims not only to fill this gap in the range, but also compete with the best of the competition, including the class-leading Ford Fiesta. In reality, the Mirage is acceptable for running around town, but the sharp pricing has required cost-cutting that is clearly visible in the Mirage’s sub-par refinement.
DriveResponsive, but never a quiet experience
The Mirage has aimed for the fun-to-drive credentials of the Fiesta and the ease of the Toyota Yaris. Mitsubishi have fallen short of these benchmarks with the Mirage. While the 3-cylinder, 1.2-litre engine is responsive to pokes of the accelerator, it is quickly apparent this car is underpowered—with just 57kW of power available at a high 6,000 RPM, the Mirage must be worked hard in almost all situations, including in town. With little soundproofing, engine and transmission whine constantly penetrate the cabin. Part of the noise is attributable to the continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission, which relies on a single gear rather then stepping quietly from rung to rung. The steering, although light, feels floaty and disconnected from the road, and the narrow tires mean grip can feel limited. We were pleased with the Mirage’s safety on Sydney’s notoriously poor roads on the wettest week of the year, though. The Mirage’s suspension is not very compliant with lumps and bumps in the road, tending to jar uncomfortably over ruts and potholes.
ComfortLots of standard equipment, but it’s hard to get comfortable
For taller, male drivers—although hardly the target market—it is hard to get comfortable in the front of the Mirage, with little lateral support in the seat. Smaller frames should be able to settle in, though, and the front of the Mirage is a fairly enjoyable place to be. The gauges and dashboard are clear and easy to operate: the Mirage ditches the gimmicky design of some competitors, like the Fiat 500, for a simple design that works. The quality of the materials used in the cabin, though, is questionable, with most surfaces featuring hard, scratchy plastic. The driving position is particularly high even at the lowest setting, though. Rear-seat passengers won’t appreciate the unsupportive bench seat, but the boxy design of the Mirage means headroom is not an issue anywhere in this car. All passengers will benefit from the generous equipment levels, particularly on the LS, which includes Bluetooth for a mobile phone, iPod and auxiliary connectivity, electric windows, and air conditioning.
PracticalityUseful and spacious, the Mirage delivers on its promise of practicality
Mitsubishi have made the most of the Mirage’s diminutive size—this is a car of just 3.7 metres, but it offers high levels of interior space, particularly in the front seats, where the cabin feels light and airy. Storage space is abundant in the Mirage, with door bins, three cup holders and a sizeable glove box for everyday nicknacks. The boot is on the small size with a narrow opening and just 235 litres of space, but standard folding seats near-triple this to 600 litres, so small flat-pack furniture boxes would be possible.
Reliability and running costsLow maintenance and running costs, but this new model has untested reliability
The proliferation of capped-price servicing in Australia means the Mirage is no exception, benefitting from Mitsubishi’s Diamond Advantage programme. The Mirage needs to be serviced annually, and the first four annual services will cost $250 each, keeping maintenance costs low for a typical ownership period, and alleviating some concerns about future reliability and the quality of components. Though Mitsubishi is a Japanese company, the Mirage is manufactured in Thailand—like the Ford Fiesta—and as a result, it doesn’t seem as solid as the German-constructed Volkswagen Up. Safety equipment is fair, with six airbags, stability control, and brake assist. The Mirage scored 34/37 in ANCAP crash testing, earning five stars. A core strength of the Mirage is its fuel economy, which places it among the best in the supermini class: with the CVT automatic, the three-cylinder Mirage manages 4.9 litres per 100km on the combined cycle—and it only asks for cheap 90-RON unleaded fuel.
Value for moneyAll Mirages offer generous value
All Mirages, from the entry-level ES that costs about $14,000 on road, are equipped with the 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, and conveniences such as power steering, stability control, air conditioning, and Bluetooth streaming. The mid-range ES Sport is essentially a body kit option pack that adds $1,000 to the price. It adds alloy wheels and a spoiler. The range-topping LS asks an additional $1,000, but includes the luxuries of automatic wipers (indecisive and annoying in our experience), and lights, as well as a smart entry system (although on our test car, this worked only half the time). The LS also adds one-zone climate control. The best balance of value and equipment remains the base ES, which keeps the price of entry particularly low while avoiding an unnecessary splash on the LS.