It’s been hard to keep up with the Mitsubishi brand. First they were going all electric, then they were going all SUV, and then it even looked like they were going away! But now they’re back, or still here actually, and following up on the well done Outlander with an all-new Mirage.
The Mitsubishi Mirage was technically all-new for 2014, but we admit to dragging our heels into doing a complete test. We’ll we’ve now corrected that oversight, and we’re glad we did.
This 2015 model is identical to the ‘14 except for a minor change on interior fabrics.
What hasn’t changed is the difficulty of any new sub-compact car being a true standout in its segment. But, an unusual 3-cylinder engine, and great non-hybrid fuel economy certainly helps the Mirage.
That inline-3 displaces all of 1.2-liters with equally modest output numbers of 74-horsepower and 74 lb-ft. of torque. Yes, we’ve tested motorcycles with bigger motors, and the battery almost takes up more space under the hood. But, it’s actually less buzzy than many I4’s, and other than a rough idle, it’s a quite able power provider except on steep hills.
Transmission is either the standard 5-speed manual or this car’s optional CVT. We found it no more objectionable other whiney CVTs.
Prior to the ’14 redesign, the Mirage name had been out of Mitsubishi’s U.S. lineup since the ’91 model year. And this one looks like it could have been sold then as well. This particular 5-door hatchback design is not exactly overly contemporary. Maybe that’s why Mitsu chose to send out a press car in head turning Plasma Purple.
Now, it’s not too often these days that a brand claims their car is not about luxury or handling. Well, we certainly appreciate their honesty.
Still, for basic functionality, there’s nothing on the interior to really complain about. As one of the least expensive cars you can buy, we expect materials to be yeoman. But, these seem rugged enough and fit and finish also pass that test. The only notable blemishes were the passenger side airbag fitment and a flimsy cargo area mat.
The Mirage is the first mass produced car imported from Thailand and it certainly compares well to early Hyundais from Korea.
There’s plenty of people room for getting in and out, and while front seats are flat, we found them pretty comfy, though we’d like a center armrest. The base 140-watt 4-speaker stereo sounds decent, and surprise, automatic climate control is standard. Cargo space itself rates 17.2 cubic-ft, which expands to 47.0 cubic-ft. with the standard split-folding rear seat backs lowered.
We’ve already noted the Mirage does not claim to be a “driver’s car”. But, for around town use it gets the job done quite well, and just may be one of the best riding cars in the segment. Unfortunately that plush ride turns against you in sharp maneuvers, like our cone course. Still, the Mirage mostly does what you want it to, just with some twitching and wagging.
Steering is slow and mushy. But, there’s not as much body roll as expected even with plenty of tire rollover and understeer. Acceleration is also less than thrilling, but again adequate for an urban mission, with an 11.7-second 0-60 stroll and an 18.8-second saunter down the ¼-mile ending at all of 75 miles-per-hour.
The CVT even at full throttle doesn’t induce near as much buzzy engine noise as some rivals, and the exhaust note has a pleasing hint of sportiness to it. But, slam on the brakes at 60 and you’re reminded of the bargain nature of things. Stops are skittish, with a fair amount of correction needed to keep things straight. At 128 feet, stops from 60 rate OK but they should be shorter for such a small car.
The biggest selling point of the Mirage will be its Government Fuel Economy Ratings of 37-City, 44-Highway, and 40-Combined. We didn’t have to work too hard to beat all that, with a test average of 44.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular. So, the Energy Impact Score is excellent, with usage of just 8.2-barrels of oil a year and emissions of 3.7 tons of CO2.
Now as for the stinginess, a base Mirage is just $13,790. That’s just a few dollars more than the Chevrolet Spark and well below any Hyundai or Kia. A better equipped ES automatic is $16,190. Now, at that price competition is much stiffer.
The 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage is a bit of a throwback to a simpler time when small cars were bought purely on price as basic transportation. Mitsubishi realizes that they are facing an uphill battle. But bringing the Mirage to market with a great ride, acceptable build quality, and respectable comfort for a city car, is a sound plan.
Engine: 1.2 liters
Torque: 74 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 11.7 seconds
1/4 mile: 18.8 seconds @ 75 mph
EPA: 37 mpg city/ 44 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 8.2 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 3.7 tons/yr