For the ultra budget conscious there’s a raft of light hatchbacks to choose from. Sub $15,000 cars are proving to be hugely popular, remarkably the Chinese manufacturer Chery is offering one for just $9990. So we’ve jumped into the Mitsubishi offering – the Mirage
EFTM recently spent a week in the reincarnated Mitsubishi Mirage ES Sport.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
The new Mirage shares no cues with its predecessor from the 90’s. It’s a tall standing, rounded and friendly looking hatch. However the tiny cheese cutter wheels just don’t seem to blend in with the overall design.
Although tiny, headroom and over all personal space up front is adequate. There’s no sense of being cramped or the need to use a shoehorn to extricate oneself upon exit.
The Mirage is now a 5 door affair, but don’t expect a mini troop carrier here. The rear bench can seat three, on the proviso you’re very friendly with your travelling companions.
A two tone (cream and black) colour scheme for the dash and door trims works well. But there’s an immediate sense of cheapness, most surfaces are hard and flimsy to touch. But it’s not an awful place to be, my finance even labeled it “cute”.
The 1.2 litre 57 kW / 100Nm engine under the short nose bonnet is quite peculiar. It rudely chatters away at idle, but once on the move transforms into a quite an accomplished performer. Mind you pulling a kerb weight of 865kg is not a momentous challenge.
The 5-speed manual as tested was disappointing with a whinging, whining attitude. Shifts felt loose and difficult to execute initially.
Handling wise the Mirage is strictly a city dweller. Parking spot opportunities dramatically increase for a car of this size. It has an impressive 4.6 metre turning circle. But throw it into a corner at pace and the tall frame and miniature tyres will induce a panic attack.
In’s and Out’s.
In this price bracket it’s a race to see what each manufacturer can throw in. The Mirage does well.
The ES Sport model we piloted included, keyless entry, CD player, Bluetooth with audio streaming, a basic voice recognition system, four-speaker stereo system (the ES base model gets just two), USB / AUX inputs, power windows and side mirrors, leather steering wheel and 14-inch alloys.
As mentioned my better half spent some time behind the wheel, she was most impressed with the Bluetooth system operated via the steering wheel mounted controls. She also commented on the usable boot space which swallowed a week’s worth of shopping for two.
The rear bench seat also features 60/40 split fold functionality.
Although size matters, should the worst happen the Mirage will do its best to protect occupants with six airbags (dual front, front-side and side curtain) and stability control.
The Lasting Impression.
After the initial curiosity of driving the new Mirage faded away, it tended to be parked in the EFTM garage more often than not. For a couple of blokes in their 30’s who have a fondness for driving, it wasn’t exactly a satisfying drive.
But for hordes of young women it would be a prize possession. This car screams for colour coded number plates, bouncing car toys on the dash and pet names like “Ruby” “Herbie” or “Kylie”.
Perhaps you could wrap yourself if you owned the flagship LS model. 15-inch alloys, fog lamps, dusk sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, one touch start system, unique seat upholstery and climate control are worth boasting about, I guess.
19 year old girls will probably be drawn like moths to a flame to the hideous ‘Mulberry’ paint job.
Serious haggling at the dealer could also produce surprising results.
The Hip Pocket.
A Continuously Variable Transmission is available across all models but is a hefty $2,250 upgrade. While preferable over the sloppy manual it does start to ruin the value equation.
As you would expect the tiny three-cylinder needs only a drip feed of unleaded to get by. A claimed 4.9 L/100 km is attainable, but we hovered around 5.5.
The Mirage is covered by Mitsubishi’s 130,000 km / 5 year warranty.
EFTM Rubber Stamp
The Mirage has some stiff competition with starting prices for the following; $11,790 Suzuki Alto, $12,490 Holden Barina Spark, $13,490 Nissan Mirca and $13,990 for the class leading Volkswagen Up.
The Mirage does exactly what it’s intended for and should prove to be a satisfying long term proposition.
It earns the EFTM Pass Rubber Stamp