By on July 19, 2014


Press Cars: just a Mirage? (all photos courtesy Sajeev Mehta)

Press Cars: just a Mirage? (all photos courtesy Sajeev Mehta)

Mitsubishi’s website claims the Mirage is a “small car for a big life.” Possible: while I haven’t done a TTAC review in over a year, know that even the rare automotive sampling of a ball of flaming garbage in a catapult possesses a modicum of engineering /styling/marketing prowess. Good cars exist everywhere, which is worthy of someone’s “big life.”

And contrary to the rash of negative press, the Mirage is an honest machine worthy of a closer look.

DSCN5986The Made in Thailand DNA is unmistakable: the Mirage feels like an aspirational vehicle for a growing middle class in an emerging market. Living outside of the American design bubble has its perks: peep that demure, wind cheating nose bearing no pretense to corporate branding (cough, Aston Martin grilles) for starters. The low-ish DLO provides excellent visibility without resorting to the artificially large/dorky greenhouses of yesteryear’s subcompacts. The top-line ES sports cheerful 14” alloys while color-keyed fog lights add modest flair to the base model’s surprisingly subtle and cool rear spoiler. You know, for a 5-door econobox.

DSCN5990So pop inside the Mirage’s surprisingly inviting cabin: headroom galore, not uncomfortable bucket seats, dressy black lacquer center stack sporting Rothko-worthy HVAC vents, leather(ish) wrapped wheel, power everything, keyless ignition (on the left like a 911) and admirable ergonomics encased in richly grained, tightly constructed plastics that look more expensive than their fossilized demeanor suggests. That infamous road test mentioned airbag flash casting, which my test Mirage had instead on the E-brake handle. To see such cheapness on a new car under 13 grand ($15,195 as-tested) was horrifying I tell you!

DSCN6006Genuine gripes for a car this cheap? No center armrest, and the small cargo area means the (comfortable) rear seats must fold down for modest amounts of luggage. No biggie, except getting them back up without snagging the shoulder belts in the latch mechanism is a challenge. But the inability to stream audio (SoundCloud) from an iPhone 4 via the glovebox’s USB plug got on my nerves. It defaulted to iTunes, which I rarely use. And forget music when Google Maps’ turn-by-turn navigation is on: since I was denied the best Mirage-related song on the face of the earth, here it is.

DSCN6017And while bright colors add necessary excitement to a bottom rung hatchback, my Radioactive Blue Mirage fought its purple-flecked seat fabrics to no end. Cheap cars rightly show their exterior paint around interior window frames, a colorblind seat fabric is necessary. Feng Shui aside, color coding on the (power) door locks wouldn’t hurt: the lever needs a red decal to warn of threats from potential carjackers from an unlocked portal.

DSCN5997Fire up the Mirage and a pleasant (if you appreciate any mechanical sound) bellow from the three-banger mill makes it clear: this is an honest machine from another era. Even with electronics behind the 7 airbags, ABS, electric steering and active handling nanny in tow, the Mirage provides an unhindered driving joy coming from a suspension managing a mere 2051 lbs. Driving dynamics occasionally delight with its flat powerband, even with the CVT in lieu of a proper 5-speed. Bargain basement fun was a simple trick away. Check it:

Dial into the 1-ton Mirage’s occasionally communicative steering and toss it a corner (off-throttle) and the low-rolling resistance, tall profile rubber holds on with modest body roll. Now mash the throttle a good 2 seconds before hitting your intended apex. Do it right and you’ll fling out the corner with all 74 horses’ howling in passionate protest. Try to stop smiling as traffic becomes a dot in the rear-view.

DSCN5984And on the remote chance you built enough steam for a rapid stop, the vented disc/drum combination is more than adequate for the street. Even the twist-beam axle plays well on bumpy roads, further testament to the joy of a lightweight car.

DSCN6007Forcing the Mirage’s CVT into submission is moderately more infuriating than today’s auto-erratic transaxles. Yet, considering the efficiency boost, the autobox is done: the EPA’s 37/44MPG were matched and quickly surpassed. Light traffic (40-50mph) rewarded with a stunning 50.2 MPG from my house to the local Tesla gallery. And that’s with this featherweight’s (surprisingly robust and standard) automatic temperature control HVAC cranked!

As the 3-pot Mirage burbled buzzed idled next to the Tesla, I pondered if these radical electronic wonders are $85,000-ish better than a 50+ MPG hatchback. Is anything really that much better?

10372084_10152226017973269_3590992957388189892_nQuirky shit-can vibe aside, the Mirage cruises like a larger car, spanking the Smart ForTwo in both speed and stability. While acceleration is never rapid, the CVT keeps the Mirage in its powerband, hovering around 5000 revs. Mash the throttle around 70mph and the CVT revs to 6000, netting acceleration no slower than lower speeds. (In Houston, near sea level.) It’s still molasses slow with a loud engine, but with insane aerodynamics (small frontal area, 0.28 cd) it works. Witness this Easter Egg in the owner’s manual: a Highway Patrol speed warning for another journalist.

10452467_10152230027413269_1482059042706384612_nAnd upon the realization that running the Mirage at 10/10ths is a fool’s errand, one’s rewarded with a ride that soaks up both huge potholes and small pavement imperfections with precision. Impact harshness, so prevalent in modern cars with 18+ inch wheels, is literally smothered by Low Carb Panther Love.

Should you buy the Mirage over its sub-15k competition, or any “superior” used car? Maybe, but given the combo of a low asking price, $1000 rebate with 1.9% APR (this month), robust 10-year warranty and new car smell unavailable in used cars, you’d be forgiven for heading straight to a Mitsubishi dealer, using the extra monthly cash for food, gas, shelter, children, baby momma/daddy drama, medical bills, credit card debt, college debt…see where I’m going with this?

The similarly priced Chevy Spark could excel, depending on incentives. A larger, safer used car gives a fighting chance against wayward SUVs threatening a harsh lesson in the Laws of Physics. But Mitsubishi claims the Mirage meets their (modest) sales goals for good reason: it’s kinda fun and gets the job done with mad respect for your wallet.  And I appreciate that.

DSCN5995Your opinion of our society’s demand for easy credit and “need” for new car smell aside, the Mirage is a valid transportation opportunity for many Americans. If a Mitsubishi dealer is within easy reach, a cost-benefit analysis is certainly on the table.

(Mitsubishi provided the test vehicle, insurance and a full tank of gas for this review.)


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93 Comments on “Review: 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “As the 3-pot Mirage burbled/buzzed/idled next to the Tesla, I pondered if these radical electronic wonders are $85,000-ish better than a 50+ MPG hatchback.”

    Another way to ask the question: Is a $100k car 6x better than a $16k car?

    Either way, the answer is both “yes” and “no”. It depends on the cars. In the case of the Tesla vs Mirage, I think yes. But in the case of a Cayenne GTS vs Focus, maybe not.

    The problem with the Mirage is actually its HIGH price. It will forever compete in the new and used markets with better peers, even when depreciated.

    • 0 avatar

      ” Is a $100k car 6x better than a $16k car?”

      For 99% of the car driving population the question is irrelevant: they can’t afford a $100k car.

      A new Mirage is probably a good value as a transportation appliance: buy it new, treat it well, and you could get 10+ years of service out of it. Good fuel economy and small footprint are a bonus. Use the 1.9% financing ($280/mo for five years with $0 down)so the payments and warranty expire at about the same time; all the years and miles after that are a bonus.

  • avatar

    Good lord Carlos, Mirage has available CVT while Micra doesn’t.

  • avatar

    I think this is a perfectly decent car, but I prefer a bit more of both the cheap and the cheerful in my Cheap & Cheerful, so I would buy a base FIAT 500 Pop in a super cool color for a couple grand less after discounts. With the brown and ivory interior, of course. Though I would imagine Mitsubishi is discounting these too.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      I agree with your choice, but as a family man, I’d use it strictly as a commuter/runaround car.

      The Mirage extra set of doors become handy if karting the kids around is needed.

      • 0 avatar

        Hola Athos! Cómo le va?

        Yes we know cars like the Mirage well. Siena, Palio, Premio, Uno (just to remember some Fiats) and countless others today and yesterday, in countries like yours and mine, making ever bigger inroads into the first world. Most just don’t understand. They soon will. A perfectly serviceable, small family car (the sedan), or a young couple’s car (the hatch).

        • 0 avatar
          Athos Nobile

          Marcelo, I see what you say, but you must understand than honest and all as this car is, its competition in the first world is probably much better (although probably not as cheap). Then, there’s the used car market.

          There’s a concept it takes time to get used around here: choice. And there’s plenty to look at before getting to this car.

  • avatar

    Fourteen-inch alloy wheels? Be still my heart! I love honest design and engineering. This car seems to have it in spades.

  • avatar

    Saajev’s review is in line with all other opinions and reviews I’ve read about this car — it’s an honest-to-God, no-frills, decently engineered compact car that drives well, is well built, frugal, offers enough room for four poeople, is reasonably safe, reasonably comfortable and comes with a very generous warranty.

    If you think your car is your “avatar” that “reflects your personality” — in the way that you’d like to pretend to be someone you’re not or generally impress other people — then please move along, because there’s nothing to see here.

    German news magazine Der Spiegel tested the Mirage (which, oddly enough, is called “Space Star” in Germany) a few months ago and came to very much the same conclusions:

    (Google-mangled version of this:

  • avatar

    These are surprisingly popular in my area and from the owners that I’ve talked to, they seem to thoroughly enjoy this car for what it is. Even if it is a bottom barrel rconobox, I would consider it on price and mpg alone.

  • avatar

    This should help sell a lot of Versas.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not so sure about that…..

      I find the Versa to be a depressing car. I’d rather my Jeep drink away my entire salary then drive a Versa.

      I’m not saying the Mirage is a sexy car. Its not. Even so, I’d have it over the Versa, in fact I wouldn’t mind having a Mirage to punt to work everyday so I don’t mile up my Wrangler and I would save a crap ton in gas, but still have an small and easy to park vehicle (my Jeep really excels there) plus it isn’t completely bare bones. At least Mitsubishi is trying to make the Mirage somewhat cheerful, I do like the shade of blue this one is. The Versa is just bleak and meager.

      Maybe Mitsu might sell more if they brought over the Hello Kitty edition? I know plenty of women who’d be all over it and I could have something to point and laugh at.

      My only real problems would be Mitsubishi’s future, which to be blunt is in doubt and the other problem would be the Fiesta, I would more then likely purchase that unless I got a creaming deal on the Mirage…. and that wouldn’t be out of the question.

  • avatar

    I saw a couple of these when they first came out. Heard one of them idle, and it did not sound like a new or healthy car. The fuel economy and light weight are very tempting, but the unpainted underhood areas and Mitsubishi’s long term prospects in the US would give me pause. What good is a 10 year warranty without a manufacturer to back it up? How rust resistant is a car with no paint on its strut towers? There are competitors here like the Fiesta, 500 and Versa that are advertised for lower prices even though they seem to have been intended to sell a class above the Mirage.

    • 0 avatar

      Unpainted? Surely you jest!

      It’s not bare metal, its painted with the undercoat/primer coat…not the shiny top coat of whatever color is chosen. Sure it looks cheap with the hood open, but otherwise the paint job is pretty enough.

      Will the rustproofing last? Who knows, but don’t judge that by the lack of color underhood.

  • avatar

    There is nothing wring with an honest back-to-basics economy car. However, $15K is simply not cheap enough for what this car is and what the alternative are at this price point.

    You can get low mileage 2013 Mazda3 for that kind of money and it will still be under warranty, will have meaningful resale value and be more fun to drive. As a bonus Mazda will still probably be around to honor the warranty.

  • avatar

    Huh. In the top/”feature” photo I had to glance again, looks like my old MX-3 in that limited view. Of course my MX-3 was red, not that nasty teal that was popular. Maybe teal is making a comeback?

  • avatar

    For $16k there are so many better options than this Mitsubishi, even options with cheap financing. The Mazda 2 is an easy alternative choice. I don’t know why anyone would decide to buy this car in NA.

  • avatar

    The only good thing I have to say about the Mirage, after having test-driven one, is that I’m glad *some* manufacturer chooses to offer interesting colors.

    When I went in to the showroom, there was no one there. NO ONE. No sales people, no receptionist, no customers, nobody. I could have peed on the floor, and there was no one there to see it. I finally wandered out to the service area, where I found a lonely Service Writer, and asked him if the cars out front were for sale.

    He got on the phone, and after about 5 minutes, a sales fellow wandered up the hill from the neighboring (and co-owned) Nissan store.

    The sales fellow explained to me how all of the sales guys were paid only on commission (duh!), so none of the sales guys were willing to hang out in the Mitsubishi store, because they didn’t sell, and there was no money to be made!

    Anyhow, I finally got to drive the Mirage, and I was amazed to find that it was *exactly* like a 1986 Chevrolet Sprint Plus I once owned. That is not, in and of itself, a bad thing – except that in the ensuing 28 years, every other car got a lot better, but the Mirage was squarely stuck in 1986.

  • avatar

    Whether it’s a very inexpensive car or a very expensive one or anything in between, what I appreciate most is when it feels like an automaker has genuinely put effort into a product. I sat in one of these, and I got that feeling. This car is cheap because it’s *supposed* to be, but it’s done very tastefully…and I appreciate that

    Now, with every third person in this state riding around in a Suburban or a large pickup, I’m just *not* going to buy a subcompact car, but if I were, this would possibly be in the running.

    • 0 avatar

      You know what Kyree? You absolutely get it. That is the whole point of the market’s infatuation with the likes of the Renault/Dacia Logan-Sandero. Done up to a price point, done nicely, with care and even pride. The car I mention is a huge worldwide hit and if you lump all members of the family (hatch, sedan, station wagon etc.) it was the 4th most sold car in the world last year. I’ll take your word for it and so it seems Mitsubishi understood. That is exactly why James Mays from Top Gear loves the Sandero. It is what it is, makes no excuses for it, and really leaves little margin for complaint. When done right, plenty of cars over time have shared this idea. And usually, the cars that do this idea well, are hits that are remembered by most of their owners fondly.

  • avatar

    1 repo’d in the Fleet/Lease lane at Manheim St. Pete two weeks ago.

    2 more in the Santander lane last week at Manheim Tampa, one at ADESA Tampa.

    Following in the proud footsteps of the Galant, Lancer, and the entire Suzuki brand as the Choice of Last Resort for the chronically derogatory among us. Really an appropriate name for the car, though, since they apparently get reposs…I mean, ‘given back to the bank’ so quickly your neighbors only THINK you had a brand-new car.

    And who is really so naiive as to think that Mitsubishi will be around in 10 years to service these sleds?

    I do, however, like the concept of painting them in fluorescent colors like a Haitian slum.

  • avatar

    These things are $10,000 in Canada – but a Hyundai accent can be had for as low as $8500. Just don’t expect air conditioning!

  • avatar

    What good is a 10-year warranty when few people expect Mitsubishi to still be selling cars in the US for 10 more years?

    None of Mitsubishi’s current lineup is unremittingly horrible for the price, but neither does it present a compelling value over what the more-stable competition offers for essentially the same price.

    There are other options available at around this price range (Spark, Mazda 2, Accent, etc.); why would anybody buy this?

  • avatar

    Nice to see a cheap car that is just that. I don’t understand why people criticize a $15K car to be something more than what you paid for. It’s just good enough for getting from A to B as cheaply as possible. Perhaps it beats biking somewhat …

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “ven the live (rear) axle plays well on bumpy roads”

    Dead axle, unless Mitsubishi supplied you the super-double-secret 4WD Mirage.

  • avatar

    When I immigrated to the US in the Jurassic era, my first car was a Mirage, then a Mirage Turbo. Fun cars that served my young family well. My wife had a Diahatsu Charade, another 3 banger that did not make it to 30k, not that Diahastsu was around to see its demise. I think this Mirage bears little lineage to the old Mirage and more to the Charade, which was, in truth, a penalty box

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    One of my wife’s friends is an early adopter. She’s happy, low fuel use and carries them around with no fuss.

    • 0 avatar

      Have you driven it Athos? How does it compare to your Siena (even if the Siena is a little old now) or to more modern Logans or Sanderos?

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        No. I have seen it and it looks a lot like a Suzuki Alto. The Siena is a bigger car.

        They tyres are skinny. IIRC it has a twist beam rear axle. Theirs is white and looked OK.

        My wife was telling me today I should get something like that to halve the petrol bill.

        I read a lot of what was written when the car was launched here and Mitsubishi’s logic behind it was sound. Time will tell if their bet was right.

  • avatar
    formula m

    Mitsubishi is a massive company that produced over 1.3m vehicles world wide in 2007.
    They aren’t leaving north america. The car company is a small part over their overall success. As a whole they could be financial be in better shape than any of the big 3. Going forward they will make vehicles that further resemble appliances and I can see that working as the consumer becomes more price point focused.

    Products Mining, shipbuilding, telecom, financial services, insurance, electronics, automotive, construction, heavy industries, oil and gas, real estate, foods and beverages, chemicals, steel, aviation and others
    Revenue US$ 248.6 Billion (2010)
    Profit US$ 7.2 Billion (2010)
    Employees 350,000 (2010)
    Subsidiaries List of subsidiaries

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, it is tiring to point this out over and over whenever Mitsubishi is mentioned. Mitsubishi will leave America, get sold, go bankrupt only when the mother company wants. With its resources that should probably happen in, like, never. Many have a very myopic view of what Mitsubishi is.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Well, let’s put that in perspective. Mitsubishi has let their auto business at least here in the states die on a vine. Uncompetitive product that seems made 10 years ago. I sat in an Outlander this weekend and said this is rubbish.

        If you don’t have the product and interest to compete, it doesn’t make sense to artificially support the operations.

        • 0 avatar

          Maintaining their presence in the US is a relative drop in the bucket for a company as big as Mitsubishi. If they pulled out tomorrow, they really wouldn’t have too much trouble keeping the warranties if that’s the problem. Plus, I’m sure they have other subsidiaries in the US and they wouldn’t want to jeopardize those with negative views on an eventual pull out of the US market. They are too big to go out in the middle of the night, if they think about this I’m pretty sure they (and not market people, press, internet) would put it out there. Never heard anything like that from the company itself, so it means they don’t have any plans to do so.

        • 0 avatar

          It would it it was cheaper than shutting it all down at once.

      • 0 avatar

        Suzuki is still alive worldwide, too. Point being?

        • 0 avatar

          And Suzuki are not honoring the warranties (don’t know, would believe so)?

          Plus if you can’t grasp the difference in scope between Suzuki and Mitsubishi…Point is you just can’t compare them. Suzuki bleeding in NA was a hemorrhage for them, Mitsubishi? Due to the scale of their operations there? Doesn’t make a difference to them.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      This is a bit like the common refrain that ‘rich’ people don’t mind driving unreliable cars with high repair costs.

      Mitsubishi – whether it is a large or small company – can’t be happy to be losing market share (and certainly money) in the US market.

      They currently hold about 0.4% of the US market, with absolutely no compelling game plan for the future in terms of product or service.

      They can’t support their US business for very much longer on 5000 cars a month.

  • avatar

    In my country, the base model sells for 17k. Aside from the Kia Picanto which is a little more expensive, the only cheaper car is the Suzuki Alto which the Mirage smashes. For a Yaris/2/Fiesta etc, they start from around 23k so there is a big leap in price if your budget is 17k. That price would get you a used 08/09 Mazda3.
    I’ve had a Mirage for a loaner for a day and much preferred driving it to the larger Hyundai i20. They’re really not that bad, just a little too close in price to larger offerings in America

    • 0 avatar

      you can get these things for $12,990 here? but to me they make no sense

      you’re way better off with a Hyundai i20 or my favourite, the Kia Rio which has a 100hp 1.4 four with a 6 speed manual.

      sure you get 2 less doors (who cares… you’re not buying a limo) and 14 inch steels but you also get a 1,1 to 1,2 ton car so its much more comfortable at highway speeds

      for about $13,000 on road with a 5 yr warranty and capped servicing it makes for very cheap, reliable and comfortable motoring (wont be fun though but you didnt expect that)

      i think auto ones cost $2,000 more and are what most people want since the vast majority think manual = manual labor

  • avatar

    Dang it, Jeeves. Now I really want to go drive one.

    The Lulzcer’s eventually likely replacements may be a towbeast and a RWD manual beater of some sort, but yeah. I like the no-frills-ness of the Mirage, the size and the bright colors. They’ve even got a fuschia one on the lot here! Fuschia! :3

    Did it not come with an AUX cable? I tend to prefer that over most cars’ iPhone integration. Even Audi’s system only pulled from my playlists, grr. With the Lancer’s AUX cable, I just plug it into the headphone jack and set it to whatever I darn well please. Google Maps has no problem working in the background of music/Pandora/YouTube/whatever then.

    I know it’s the principle of “the iPhone integration stinks,” but there’s at least a workaround on the older Mitsus.

  • avatar

    The unpainted areas and the “looks like rusty metal” insulation under the hood and on the firewall would make me ashamed to open the hood on this car.
    These things are painted by robots – did they demand more pay to finish the job?
    That would be a deal-breaker for me.
    And what’s with the plastic (covers) over the exhaust header?

    CR rated this car a “29” out of 100, the Hyundai Accent a “68”. “No-Brainer” really does apply here.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      The unpainted areas under the bonnet are quite likely a cost saving. As in less paint used.

      Those “plastic (covers) over the exhaust header” are actually the intake manifold.

      • 0 avatar

        Huh… that’s the longest set of intake runners I’ve ever seen.

        I just recently found out that 15 minutes could save me 15 percent on car insurance, too.

        I’m just a little slow, I suppose.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s not unpainted, it just not painted with the top coat.

          And long intake runners is one(?) reason why this tiny motor has reasonable torque at lower rpms.

          • 0 avatar

            I guess that I don’t appreciate the artful manner in which they feathered the top coat into the primer coat in the under-hood area. A good way to save $10 worth of paint?

            See the next post about “Cani Lupine’s” throttle lag.

            Thanks for the article, though; complaining gives my life meaning! :-)

  • avatar
    Cani Lupine

    I own a silver DE with the 5 speed, since I refuse to drive anything but a stick. My biggest complaint? Electronic throttle lag. Granted, it’s not nearly as bad as it is on some other cars, but it still makes quick shifts a chore. If it could be updated with a cable throttle, I’d be happy. I also plan on fixing the soft suspension and body roll with a new set of springs, but that’s just me being nit-picky. But for what it is, it’s a perfect canvas.

    • 0 avatar

      The throttle lag could be because of the long intake manifold path (as mentioned above). The long intake results in a higher air velocity at part-throttle, thus increasing torque – however you pay for this with more restriction at full throttle (this limiting HP), and throttle response suffers due to the time it takes for the increased fuel (Edit: Air) to travel to the intake valves.

  • avatar

    Largest local dealer in the area is a Ford, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan and Kia dealership. I looked up the cheapest subcompact car they had on their website with a auto/CVT, and not adjusting for body style/equipment:

    Mirage DE – $13,235
    Fiesta SE – $16,177
    Accent GS – $14,995
    2 Sport – $14,231
    Rio Sedan – $13,495
    Versa S – $14,507

    So right now I’d be tempted to go with the Rio on price alone due to the massive discounts being offered.

    The Mirage would be cheaper to own long term due to averaging about 6 mpg more – that would save around $300 a year in gasoline.

    • 0 avatar

      I am certainly no expert on this segment, but I’m looking at those and with the materials, fit, and finish that I know goes into at least some of them, they all are about $10,000 cars give or take. I might CPO those models if I was a fan, or spend the same 15 on a CPO C-segment. The industry is going to have a very rude awakening when the bubble economy train finally pulls into the station.

  • avatar

    Next month I will be looking to replace my 1997, 213,000 mile Honda. I would give the Mirage a serious look if the nearest Mitsubishi deals wasn’t 100 miles away.

    Right now I’m looking at the Yaris, Fit, Versa Note, Accent, Sonic, Fiesta…

    • 0 avatar

      This is just my opinion, but as someone who is in his late 30s, and has mainly purchased/driven Japanese vehicles for the last 16 years, please, please, please reconsider your options.

      For literally an approximate thousand dollars more, you could get into a much larger, more substantial, more reliable, nearly as efficient (or just as), more comfortable, more powerful vehicle, that will serve you far better on high speed, pothole ridden, frost heaved roads of ours here in the U.S.

      I realize that many of the B&B who (thankfully) comment here don’t live in the U.S., and relay their preferences in a genuine manner based on the nuances of their local road, traffic, infrastructure and tax/registration situations in their countries of origin, but vehicles as light weight and weakly powered as the Mirage are horrid choices for those of us in the U.S.

      You can definitely find a Focus, Cruze, Sentra, Elantra, 500, etc., all for a very small bump in price over this motorized mailbox, and you’ll literally be getting twice the horsepower, twice the protective cocoon, only slightly worse fuel economy in day to day driving, and a MUCH more safe, stable, smooth, quiet, comfortable vehicle.

      There are be some parts of the world where vehicles of the size, displacement and general category you’re considering may make some sense as a rational purchase decision, but this can not be said in good faith about/for the U.S. consumer, IMO.

  • avatar

    I think the sole reason Mitsubishi continues a presence in North America is its legacy assets in both the MMNA (Diamond Star) plant in Normal Illinois (which incidentally has UAW representation), and its dealer network. Diamond Star started out as a 50/50 joint operation with Chrysler, but in 1991 Mitsubishi bought Chrysler’s stake and it became MMNA in 1995. So Mitsubishi Int’l would be on the hook to sell or shut down the plant if North American operations were to fold. I am sure the UAW will ensure the shutdown costs are exceptionally high from the labor standpoint, not to mention whatever additional environmental or administrative costs EPA and the State of Illinois would levy in the event of a shutdown (as opposed to a sale, but who would buy it?). Not to mention the dealer network will probably sue unless a blanket settlement is offered similar to what Suzuki did in its departure (Suzuki was the trial balloon, IMO). This point of view explains why Mitsubishi’s North American R&D budget seems to be about eleven dollars, and why a Thai assembled “developing country” model like Mirage was brought in as opposed to something more appropriate for the North American market. But hey it’s a Filipino favorite, so its got that going for it.

    Additional: Mitsubishi Int’l may just be waiting for most or all of the current sub 2,500 employees of the plant to retire. If they honor their UAW contracts they will get far less resistance from all parties when it is time to shut down the plant. Then they could simply import models from elsewhere and failing that a brand revocation becomes much cheaper and easier.

    “The Diamond-Star Motors joint venture with Chrysler in Normal, Illinois began in 1985, as American-built cars would not be subject to the same restrictive quotas as vehicles imported from Japan”

    (So, gov’t forces multinational to establish plant it its borders. Sound familiar? -28CL)

    “However, in 1994 it was the subject of two lawsuits brought against it. The first, filed by 29 women in December 1994, accused the company of fostering a climate of sexual harassment at its Normal, Illinois plant. Then, in April 1996 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a class action suit on behalf of approximately 300 other women who worked at the plant. Mitsubishi initially denied any problems at its plant but later hired former U.S. Labor Secretary Lynn Morley Martin to recommend changes to its policies and practices.”

    “Troubles began to emerge in 2003. One of the roots of their rapid growth was a “0–0–0” finance offer—zero percent down, zero percent interest, and nothing per month (repayments deferred for 12 months)—aimed at increasing MMNA’s annual sales to 500,000 vehicles. However, numerous credit-risky buyers ended up defaulting at the end of the year’s “grace period”, leaving Mitsubishi with used vehicles for which they’d received no money and which were now worth less than they cost to manufacture.”

    “In designing the Mirage, Mitsubishi’s objectives were affordability (including in developing economies) and high efficiency to address increasing global fuel economy and emissions standards”

    “The Mirage was awarded the “2012–2013 Car of the Year” by the Car Awards Group in the Philippines.[60] Top Gear Philippines rated the car 18 out of 20, and stated, “For the single person or young couple on a budget, the Mirage is still the sweetest deal in town.”[61]”

    • 0 avatar

      It got that COTY against expectations. Part of the reason was instrumented testing, which made up 50% of the score. (I was one of the drivers). We got the car over here on 15″ alloys shod in Bridgestone Potenzas, and with an anti-roll bar (due to AFTA, this combination is actually pretty cheap here), which gave the car an excellent slalom score and a braking distance from 100 km/h in the sub-40s (if I recall, just two to three meters worse than an STI). Better than more expensive cars like the Civic.

      That, combined with the decent subjective testing scores (remember, we get a lot of really cheap cars here not available in the US, so for us this is a step up rather than a step down) and the good pricing eked out a win.

  • avatar

    The wife and I bought one of these for her in April of this year, and so far it’s been a great car for her. As has been said by others, it is exactly the car it claims to be, nothing more. Some of the complaints and criticisms that have been reported about this car are spot-on, others are completely overblown and/or downright untrue. Anyway, I’m not gonna do my own review of it here of course, just wanted to let people know that yes there is at least one person out there in the US who actually has Mirage, and for what it’s worth she loves it! :)

  • avatar

    Aside from airbags, maybe better brakes and definitely worse visibility, how is this different from a ’90s Geo Metro?

    Oh… power windows and lousier build quality. Never mind.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually… modern crash safety, great body rigidity, a bigger interior and it actually has some get-up-and-go.

      Lot of old Metro owners eyeing this one with interest. First car in a long time to match the old girl when it comes to economy.

      Saying it that way… well… makes you kind of sad that modern buyer demands add about two tons of crud to every new car…

      • 0 avatar

        I agree that many cars suffer from unnecessary bloat, but there is something else that must be considered by any rational vehicle purchaser that the Mirage fails at; providing a feeling of substance.

        Stack a Mirage’s driving dynamics at 75mph on a highway against that of a Focus, Corolla, Cruze, Golf, Civic, etc., and the Mirage literally feels like a Lil’ Tykes Cozy Coupe.

        The Cruze and Focus literally feel like they’re 2 or even 3 levels better in every respect than the Mirage. They literally have the relative driving dynamics and solidity of an S Class versus the eggshell-like structure of the Mirage.

        Most enthusiasts can appreciate lightness, efficiency & intelligent packaging, but on U.S. Highways & byways, a 2,000 pound car with 70-some horsepower is just rolling punishment in almost every respect.

        • 0 avatar

          WHy? Sure it feels different, but if it’s well planted it doesn’t have to feel like a tank to be good on highways. BTW, a sincere question.

          • 0 avatar

            Marcelo, I honestly believe that there are significant differences in what is reasonably required in a vehicle to be deemed reasonably safe, stable & comfortable vehicle depending on what country (or even geographic area within the same country in some cases) a person lives in.

            I totally “get” the liveability, adequate comfort & even convenience in packaging of a sub-85 horsepower, weighing around 2000 pounds, in many countries, given their narrow roads, congested inner cities/urban areas, high cost of petrol/diesel, limited parking, small parking spaces, etc. (especially in a place like Brazil, Argentina, areas of France or Italy, etc.).

            But try those cars on big stretches of sometimes poorly maintained concrete highways in the U.S., with cars & trucks averaging 2.5 times the horsepower, 1.75x the weight & size, and traveling at an average speed of 78mph barreling down the road (especially coming up on your bumper), and most sane people will NOT have a pleasant daily drive.

            Many people believe Americans are extremely wasteful in terms of the types of vehicles they purchase & drive, but I would like to point out that many of these same people experience dramatically different
            road conditions, road widths, road speeds, and types of other vehicles they share their roads with than Americans do (in a huge portion of the U.S., geographically, at least).

            I drove a very compact, underpowered hatchback, complete with roller skate narrow tires, for two years of my undergraduate college years, and while it was fine within the confines of Ann Arbor proper, I did not look forward to ever getting on area freeways, and I especially loathed having to drive on those freeways for particularly long stretches (such as when I drove home for holidays).

          • 0 avatar

            Hey DeadWeight, I get your points, and can’t say I disagree. I also however think it’s a bit of a question of habit. 78 mph is about 125 km/h. I do that on road trips (or more) in my Renault Logan. It doesn’t feel unstable to me. In fact, quite the opposite. You see I remember older smaller cars that did in fact feel unstable and like they could take off, specially at speeds of over 140 km/h. My car starts feeling unstable at over 160, but that might be because it is reaching (or has reached, it’s top speed then). Of course, even with cars like this, a car with over 100hp is more comfortable. Of course, my standards for noise are probably more tolerant than yours. As to tires my car has a width of 175mm adequate while 185 is almost overkill. I find anything under 165 bad (and have had cars with 155 and even 145, but that one i swapped the tires).

            You have a point about concrete highways. Those can be a chore in any car. But a car with a well damped suspension can make it more tolerable. Here, we have a few stretches of it, and I find most Fiats pretty good in terms of softening the jolt, while the Fords kill it. Hyundais however are another whole sad story.

            Finally, I don’t believe Americans are particularly wasteful and whatnot with their choice in motor vehicles. They respond to their peculiar circumstances and choose accordingly, maximizing for them their return. That however does not stop me from thinking that most Tahoes or Expeditions are overkill, as are duelly Rams and whatnot. I, and I stress I, would probably choose a car, but it’s just because I prefer their dynamics. In America I would probably start thinking my close to 200 hp sedan was not enough. In other words, people are rational an choose what they perceive to be good for them. Nevertheless, that sometimes blinds them to what is different. These small sedans and hatches should become more common on American roads because of prevailing economic conditions, but not only. Small cars today are surprisingly competent and many will respond to that.

          • 0 avatar

            I’ve been on the Pennsylvania Turnpike going 70mph in a pouring rainstorm at 3:00AM, surrounded on all sides by semi-trailer trucks – believe me, a “substantial” car will keep your underpants clean.

          • 0 avatar

            shaker – most definitely. People from many parts of the world don’t understand how driving a sub 2,500 pound, let alone nearly sub 2,000 pound car (with a measly 70ish horsepower) can be unnerving under those circumstances you’ve described.

  • avatar

    I get why the base, strippo Mirage has no center armrest. But not having one on the loaded, top-tier ES is lame.

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    I prefer Tommy James and the Shondells ‘Mirage’:

    I see you standing in the alleys and the hallways
    (Wait a second)
    You’re gone now
    I run to touch you, but you vanish through the doorway
    And, oh, how
    Hard it is to live without you
    I love everything about you
    Now I know you’re really gone
    But my imagination is so strong
    That I see you coming into view
    And your face is telling me that you
    Oh, yeah, oh, want to be by my side
    Oh, yeah, oh, now it’s finally time
    (Wait a second)

    Mirage, that’s all you are to me
    Mirage, something I only see

  • avatar

    It would seem to me the Versa is a no brainer over this vehicle. Or a just slightly used Fit, if you want a much better car. Course then you could just get a used Cruze.

    Basically, don’t buy something like this new from an ailing (in the US) manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar

      It’d be interesting if you drove both then gave your opinion. The Versa is good enough as a daily drive I wonder if the Mirage could touch it. The only thing I disagree is with the Fit. The Fit may (or not) be better than the Versa, but I for one do not find it “much better”.

      • 0 avatar

        I almost view the Fit as a part-level up from the Versa and the Mirage. It can be equipped to a pretty high specification, and has options not available on the Versa and Mirage, along with the much lauded clever seating. That’s why I threw the Fit in there.

        I wish I could go do some test drives, but I feel like showing up at a dealer would just appear instantly false.

        • 0 avatar

          Well, now I agree. The Fit has very clever seating and packaging, but I really don’t think much about the rest of the car. It’s not a bad car by any means, and does have all the Honda selling points, but because of exactly that Honda badge, it is slightly overpriced (very much overpriced here). And I’m that guy that refuses to pay for brands (well, except if they are Italian…)!

          As to the test drive, just slap some grease in your hair, wear some loud bermudas, a basketball style shirt, sandals and hit the dealers! I agree with lots of what to say so reading what you think would be fun.

          • 0 avatar


            A hilarious mental image of me dressed that way. And come to think of it, I don’t know where/if we have a Mitsubishi dealer around here. Edit: There’s one ten mins from me.

            I’m glad you agree with my thoughts on here though.

          • 0 avatar

            I am not a big fan of the Versa, Fit or Elantra (for different reasons), but I’d take any of those used over a shiny new Mirage ah day of the week, even if they were priced higher with fewer options.

            I would also take a Fiat 500, Mini Cooper, or 4 year old VW Rabbit with the 2.5 liter 5 cylinder over the new Mirage, and count my blessings.

            I would even prefer a Chevy Spark over the Mirage, and I loathe that vehicle.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey DeadWeigh, I agree. I’ll also take your word for it. Bear in mind that we don’t get the Mirage here in Brazil (yet) and when I vouch for this car, I’m vouching for the idea of this car. Is the execution is so terrible, I wouldn’t know. Fact is, you and I usually agree on what we value in a car. In a way we are lucky in Brazil and have all these small sedans. Ford Fiesta, VW Voyage and Polo, Fiat Grand Siena, Renault Logan and Chevrolet Cobalt and Prisma all drive better than Versa. A few others drive the same and another few drive worse. So I know there are good cars and not so good cars in the category.

            As to the first cars you mentioned, I’d take a Versa over Fit and Elantra. Though I think it is very average, it doesn’t bother me like the Fit does in many ways and the Elantra is just a bad car in suspension terms. Also, at least here, the Versa is priced at 2/3 or less than those cars. No brainer for me.

            I’d also take any 500 or mini over the Mirage. The Rabbit I’d have to see. I can never get comfortable in that car. We don’t get the Spark here but I’d take an Onix or a Cobalt over the Versa, so I’d probably take them over a Mirage. GM here also offers the Celta and Classic. Those are truly loathsome cars. Probably make the Spark shine in comparison.

          • 0 avatar

            @DeadWeight: RE: “I would even prefer a Chevy Spark over the Mirage, and I loathe that vehicle.”

            Having driven both… no. Uh. No.

            The Chevy feels more like a grown-up vehicle in the way it steers, but the transmission is horrible, the 1.2 is incredibly thrashy and noisy and absolutely gutless… even compared to the Mirage with its near 10 hp on-paper deficit… and it suffers from a midrange torque hole that nullifies any off-paper advantage… and the interior is just as bad… only more cramped.

            It was decent by the standards of micro-cars sold in its segment before the Mirage, but with the Mirage and the new Hyundai i10 (which is getting rave reviews and comparisons to the VW Up…) out there… no… not anymore.

          • 0 avatar

            niky, my bad, I meant to write “Chevy Sonic.”

            I’ve never driven the Spark and never will voluntarily.

          • 0 avatar

            @DeadWeight: Ah… that makes more sense. The Sonic is, indeed, better.

            Steers like a Corolla, but actually miles better than an Aveo.

            Still wouldn’t get one. Ever.

  • avatar

    I want to check this car out, but whenever I get closer it disappears.

  • avatar

    Thank God! Another positive review!

    I can stop being the only good review mired in a sea of negativity cited on the Mirage Wikipedia page now. :p

    Sure, you can get a stripper four-door sedan for the price of a fully-loaded Mirage, but you can get a stripper midsize for the price of a fully-loaded four-door… and so on and so forth.

    Good car for what it is. Doesn’t deserve nearly half the flack it got from early test drives. The other half, it fully deserved.

  • avatar

    Even if I wanted to buy one, I am not sure there is any dealers in Metro Detroit anymore. I haven’t seen a new Mitsubishi in years around here.

  • avatar

    I still need a truck but the livestock is becoming troublesome and pitchforks and shovels have become something I avoid. I can see a time when a manual five door hatch will be enough. I know I like a Versa and Kia Rio. I sure would try this one. Any of them come with manual windows?

    I put the wife in something that has automatic everything. If I have a choice, not me. This sounds like something you could buy new and beat on for a long time. Affectations went out when I retired.

  • avatar

    !? is that a plastic exhaust manifold ?

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