Matt Prior
7 December 2012

What is it?

Forget the Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo. I know, you know, everyone knows, they’re the best superminis in the class: pleasing to drive, pleasing to sit in. But some people don’t really care. Ride and handling? Perceived quality? Surprise and delight and touchy-feely design? Not interested. They want value, space, some kit, low running costs and the peace of mind they perceive comes with a car from the Far East.

Here, for those people, is the Mitsubishi Mirage. It replaces the Colt, on sale since 2004 and, you might remember, a car that shared a platform with the badge-engineered Smart Forfour. There’s nothing like that this time around. The Mirage is as far removed from the Forfour or, say, the likes of a Fiat 500 or Vauxhall Adam, as it gets. It’s basic, unpretentious, good value and heroically efficient: Mitsubishi says it’s the first car range on sale in the UK whose every variant emits less than 100g/km of CO2.

Mostly that’s down to lightweight engineering and neat packaging. The Mirage is just 3710mm long (yet seats four adults comfortably and has a 235-litre boot) and is claimed to weigh, remarkably, just 845kg in base 1.0-litre form.

What is it like?

Our test car was a top-spec 1.2 but it shouldn’t carry too much of a weight burden: both 1.0 and 1.2-litre engines are petrol triples, mated to five-speed manual gearboxes (there’s also a CVT option for the 1.2). Some fine aerodynamics mean the Cd is 0.27, hence the CO2 output of a mere 96g/km.

Does the Mirage feel tinny as a result of its weight, as Nissan’s Micra does? A bit. The interior plastics feel brittle, save for an interesting centre console top. The roof lining is thin, too, but the aerodynamics keep wind noise low. The three-pot thrums away vocally but appealingly, while the gearshift is delightfully precise.

But while some light cars exude a feeling of dynamism and agility (think Mazda 2), the Mirage doesn’t manage it. Light bodies are easily deflected, so the Mirage's reasonable comfort and body control are to be applauded. The problem is the steering: it’s slow, at over three and a half turns between locks, and vague, plus it's short on self-centring. Dynamically, it’s the weakest spot of the car by a distance.

Should I buy one?

So although the Mirage is easy to drive around town, that looseness leaves it more out its depth than it deserves elsewhere. Shame it’s uninteresting to drive, because otherwise there’s much to commend it.

Mitsubishi Mirage 3 1.2

Price: £11,000 (est); 0-62mph: 11.7sec; Top speed: 112mph; Economy: 68.9mpg; CO2: 96g/km; Kerb weight: 870kg (est); Engine: 3 cyls in line, 1193cc, petrol; Power: 79bhp at 6000rpm; Torque: 78lb ft at 4000rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd manual

Join the debate

Comments
15

Excellent city A-B car.

1 year 45 weeks ago

Excellent lightweight city A-B car. Should be £8k though.

www.KOOOLcr.com

 

Perceived peace of mind?

1 year 45 weeks ago

I think just about every reliability survey suggests that there is actual rather than perceived peace of mind running a car from the far east.  What is more amazing is that people are taken in by the perceived quality of many German marques such as VW and Mercedes.

K_A

This is a...

1 year 45 weeks ago

kcrally wrote:

Excellent lightweight city A-B car. Should be £8k though.

B-Segment car or a supermini, not an A-Segment (city-car) vehicle. I'm not surprised to read the rather negative report, Mitsubishi reportedly benchmarked the Mirage against the current Nissan Micra.

Practical choice

1 year 45 weeks ago

Appears to be a bit smaller than Colt. The interior as well as the exterior do not appear to be Mitsubishi's strong point, but dropping the weight well under 900kg is impressive and getting all the trims under 100g/km - without resorting to diesels - is quite a feat.

seems pricey

1 year 45 weeks ago

seems pricey

twitter @anikadamali, @notPCnairobi

It is a pity a company like

1 year 45 weeks ago

It is a pity a company like Mitsubishi who gave us the Evo do not sprinkle some of that magic on the rest of the range.The recent distinctive front end styling has dissapeared which is a real shame.

Oh no.

1 year 45 weeks ago

They've done a 'Nissan' and made a replacement car worse!

Clarkey wrote: I think just

1 year 45 weeks ago

Clarkey wrote:

I think just about every reliability survey suggests that there is actual rather than perceived peace of mind running a car from the far east.  What is more amazing is that people are taken in by the perceived quality of many German marques such as VW and Mercedes.

Steady! You'll have benzpassion-whatshisorherface having another rant!

Dark Isle wrote:

They've done a 'Nissan' and made a replacement car worse!

I'm not sure it is worse than the older colt, but the older one managed to looked a lot less of budget than this does. The Micra was a step back in terms of styling, drive, interior etc

-----

10 years of Smart ownership over, sensible car mode activated

The Elephant in the room???

1 year 45 weeks ago

Rather than being benchmarked against the Micra, is this car not actually based on the Micra platform?

Wheelbase & Track are virtually identical!

Please someone prove me wrong.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a0edb306-07b5-11e0-a568-00144feabdc0.html

 

845 kg?

1 year 44 weeks ago

Brilliant.

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