Mitsubishi has been on a rocky roller coaster here in the U.S. Many have thought the company would finally disappear like Suzuki did last year. Little did anyone ever think that Mitsubishi still had some fight within the company. They've recently released the new Outlander and are also working on the next the generation Lancer. So it was no surprise that Mitsubishi offered the Mirage here in the U.S. as a volume seller to bring more traffic into their showrooms. It's a cheeky small car that goes toe to toe with the Chevy Spark and Scion IQ. It's a cheap small car with plenty of luxury features to choose from. Is this enough to bring buyers back to the ailing brand? Or is it all just a lost cause?
Performance: The Mirage only comes with one engine and that's a 1.2-liter three-cylinder which produces 74hp. Around town the Mirage feels zippy and light which is what most Mirage owners will use this vehicle for. Take the Mirage outside of the city and you'll have to work the engine hard to get any kind of pace out of it. The standard five-speed manual makes the most of what the engine has to offer. The CVT feels like it saps what little power the engine has and often leaves you cold until the revs build up again.
On the road: The Mirage soft suspension allows it to soak up bumps and some road imperfections. However the car tends to thump over potholes and there's way too much body roll in corners. Steering is light and easy around town while at higher speeds it becomes vague and numb feeling. Part of the whole appeal of the Mirage is the distinct thrum that comes from the three-cylinder engine when you rev it hard. At times it becomes loud and never really settles at highway speeds. This makes long journeys in the Mirage longer and more tiresome than we'd like. The manual gearbox is slick shifting. Wind and road noise will be welcome companions on the highway.
Behind the wheel: The dashboard has a simple layout. Everything is easy to navigate and easy to use. Drivers will however have a hard time getting comfortable. The steering wheel doesn't adjust for reach and you can only adjust the angle of the seat base not the height. Visibility is so-so thanks to thick side pillars and a small rear windscreen. There's enough space for four inside the cabin. A fifth person would be pushing it. The rear seat is really only designed for two passengers. Boot space isn't great but offers enough for a week's worth of shopping for one. The high load lip makes loading heavy items a little tedious.
Equipment: The Mirage comes standard with power door locks and side view mirrors. A remote keyless entry system comes standard and a rear spoiler. You'll have to step up to the top of the range to get alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and keyless start system. Optional on the top of the range is navigation system, LED illumination package and unique exterior package.
Buying & owning: We aren't really sure if the Mirage offers a convincing case when you look at the Scion IQ and Chevy Spark. The Mirage is obviously a cheap car but it doesn't really scream value when you compare it to its keen rivals. Running costs will be low while resale value is unknown at this time.
Quality & Safety: The Mirage is a budget car and there's no hiding that fact when you sit inside. It's a shame because the Chevy Spark feels a tad bit higher in interior quality along with the Scion IQ. The plastics used in the interior feel sturdy and long lasting. They don't really look all that eye appealing. Reliability should be average as with most Mitsubishi products. All Mirage vehicles come with stability control and brake assist to help keep you out of harm's way. Side curtain airbags are fitted as standard too in the event of an accident. Security isn't great but you get an immobilizer.
City cars are supposed to be cheap but also offer some kind of redeeming feature to them. Both the Chevy Spark and Scion IQ offer more of an engaging driving experience around town and can hold its own ground on the highway. The Mirage can do the same but it doesn't feel exciting to drive. There's too much body roll and the steering feels almost nonexistent at higher speeds. Wind and road noise enter the cabin at high levels and the overall packaging of the Mirage is rather disappointing. It's not the best city car you can buy but it does offer decent running cost and the price tag is well justifiable. Sadly this won't be the hallow car Mitsubishi desperately needs.
Likes: Low running costs. Low price of entry. Easy to drive around town with roomy interior for four.
Dislikes: City cars should be fun to drive and sadly this one is not. Wind and road noise at highway speeds. Steering and handling become sloppy beyond city limits. CVT transmission should be avoided at all cost.
Devon's Pick: Mirage DE MT is the pick of the range. It's the cheapest and offers the best value overall. You get all the features that you'll ever really need in a budget car and with the five-speed manual gearbox you'll be able to really make the most of what the tiny engine has to offer. The ES trim offers a few extra bits but takes the value factor away. It pushes the price to closer to roomier and much better rivals.