By on April 4, 2017

2017 Mirage Mitsubishi

If you’ve ever been inside a Mitsubishi Mirage, you know its only slightly preferable to being hogtied and drug behind a much nicer car. Its engine is beyond anemic at highway speeds, there is an uncomfortable level of road noise, and it’s about as luxurious as a shoebox. The Mirage is the rental you receive when the “special value” option seems too good to be true — because it is.

Prepare yourself for a brain aneurysm as you read the following sentence: The Mitsubishi Mirage is, according to the Automotive Science Group, the best performance vehicle money can buy. That, and Mitsubishi is honored as the “Best All-Around Performance Brand.”

How could this possibly happen? 

Now might be a good opportunity to remind everyone how important it is to understand the methodologies behind these studies and awards.

In the case of the Automotive Science Group, top awards are divided into subcategories that measure environmental, economic, and social “performance.” While economic performance translates directly to the purchasing price of the vehicle, the other two are atypical ways to qualitatively assess a car and beg for more explanation.

Environmental performance measures the overall planetary impact. That includes everything from how much fuel a given vehicle burns to the raw materials and energy required in its production. There are even metrics to measure the amount of effort, energy, and materials needed to properly dismantle and dispose of the vehicle at the end of its life.

The social methodology is even more extensive. Automotive Science Group’s social performance is measured by assessing the corporate and governmental commitment to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the United Nations Global Compact. Essentially, it seeks to ensure the car was not produced anywhere human rights are an issue — but goes so far as to make sure vehicle sales won’t somehow contribute toward terrorism, organized crime, slavery, or child labor.

That’s incredibly specific for a car and company that are being dubbed “best all-around.” And, as much as Mitsubishi should be getting kudos for accidentally producing the most morally righteous and socially responsible vehicles on the market, simply announcing they’ve won an award for “performance” is more than a little misleading. Of course, an advertisement that reads your company hurt the least amount of people and ruins the environment less does lack the broad appeal of a “BEST PERFORMANCE” banner hoisted above your product.

It’s difficult to fault Mitsubishi here, though. While it would’ve been nice if it had presented the award with more clarity and marketed themselves appropriately, they just want the positive publicity. It’s our job to ensure the onslaught of awards are vetted and the methodologies behind them are given clarity, because nobody else is going to bother. We need to take the time to remind ourselves that J.D. Power’s “Best in Initial Quality” only covers the first 90 days of ownership and Motor Trend’s “Car of the Year” is based on little more than a gut feeling. (They picked the Chevy Malibu in 1997 for Christ’s sake.)

So, if you want to save a yourself bundle of cash, be good to the environment, and enjoy the most guilt-free driving experience of your entire life, then the Mitsubishi Mirage is definitely the vehicle for you. However, I urge you to look elsewhere if you truly want a car with the “Best All-Around Performance.”

[Image: Mitsubishi Motors]

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43 Comments on “The ‘Best All-Around Performance’ Car Available is the Mitsubishi Mirage, Apparently...”

  • avatar

    Looked at their website. Those are some hard-core, one-world-everybody-bicycles greenies with the messianic mien to ’em.

    If only they’d tackle the root cause.

    • 0 avatar

      At least we know for a fact that people who buy the Mirage are smart, unlike those idiots who buy non-Japanese cars.

    • 0 avatar

      “Those are some hard-core, one-world-everybody-bicycles greenies with the messianic mien to ’em”

      That’s what they want you to think they are. In reality, they are an award mill. Like those people that cold-call you telling you your shop has won the “Best Business” award, and they can send you your award plaque for $50.

      Not that the fine establishments giving “Car Of The Year” awards are much better.

  • avatar

    I don’t know measuring a brand’s “social” qualities could possibly be done well, although certainly economic and environmental factors are easy-ish to measure.

    But this is clearly a ridiculous abuse of the word “performance” by all parties involved. Sheesh. (And, for that matter, it’s not a great use of the word “science” in the name of the group.)

    It’s certainly possible to use the word “performance” in the context they are using it, but it’s certainly not the normal way that word is used in the auto industry.

    At least the JD Power folks use the word “Initial” in their award name.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      Agree 100%, and it’s also a ridiculous abuse of the word “science.” If you want “science denial” to go away, stop telling agenda-driven lies and calling it science.

      On a tangentially-related note, if a Mirage is a performance car, then Spec Mirage needs to exist. I would greatly enjoy watching 30 or 40 Mirages struggle to reach 90 mph on Mid-Ohio’s backstraight, then try to late-brake one another into Madness.

      • 0 avatar

        If only there was footage of the Renault Alliance Cup race at Laguna Seca in 19 _ _. I think the field was >30 cars. 3-5 on the roof in the 1st lap. A leading pack of 7-9 people with way more skill than the ±16 backmarkers holding on for dear life.

  • avatar

    Those are some interesting non-traditional metrics they’re using there. Almost none of which actually relate to how any car actually performs in real life.

  • avatar

    “World’s Best Cup of Coffee”

  • avatar

    “it seeks to ensure the car was not produced anywhere human rights are an issue — but goes so far as to make sure vehicle sales won’t somehow contribute toward terrorism, organized crime, slavery, or child labor.”

    The Mirage is built in Thailand and the Philippines. Well known oases of human rights with low instances of corruption.

  • avatar

    They should call themselves the Automotive Science Fiction Group.

    And I’m looking forward to the Mitsubishi TV commercials where they tout this endorsement with a straight face – because you know it’s coming.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    “…and Motor Trend’s “Car of the Year” is based on little more than a gut feeling. (They picked the Chevy Malibu in 1997 for Christ’s sake.)”

    I find myself in the unusual position of defending both MT and the N-body Malibu here, although I also think both of them are quite laughable.

    For starters, what other domestic cars were all-new for 1997? The Chrysler cloud cars and the Contour/Mystique were 1995, the Sebring convertible and fish Taurus were introduced in 1996, and the revised LHs came along for 1998. MT still broke out Import Car of the Year as a separate category (the E39 5-series got it for 1997) and the C5 Corvette’s March 7 introduction came too late for consideration. (It won in 1998.) So the Malibu basically “won” the 1997 COY by default.

    As for the vehicle itself, well… yeah. It wasn’t a great car. What it was, though, was a reasonably contemporary domestic sedan that was a damn sight better than the same-year Lumina (also intro’d for 1995) to say nothing of the Corsica it replaced. It was also fairly durable.

    • 0 avatar

      I must disagree. The second gen Lumina was far more reliable than the Malibu, as was the Corsica that the Malibu replaced.
      The Lumina in particular was safe, roomy and an excellent value.
      Greatest car of its time?
      Phuck no.
      Would I take one over a same-year Malibu?
      As long as it didn’t have the 3400, in a heartbeat.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged Miata Man

        Yeah, I should have added the disclaimer “in my experience” at the end. I sold both models when new, and I greatly preferred the more contemporary look and feel of the Malibu over the dowdier (to my eye) Lumina. FWIW, a friend has also had good luck with a beater 200K+ mile, 2003 Malibu Classic over the past 5-6 years.

        That said, I also remember the first ’97 Malibus coming into the service drive with a host of niggling issues, including (my favorite) smoking instrument clusters that had been improperly grounded. Ah, GM…

  • avatar

    C’mon guys. The snarkiness and snide remarks for the Mirage are getting old. Is it the fastest? No, it’s a basic economy car. Is it exciting? Not particular, but it’s a basic economy car.

    Without turning in my car enthusiast card, I’m proud to admit I like the Mirage…..a lot. I’ve rented a fair share of them and even considered buying one a few years ago, and have enjoyed each one over the collective thousands of miles I’ve driven them.

    There’s an appealing honest-to-goodness nature to this car that is rare today. There’s nothing fake about it, it’s not trying to be something that it’s not.

    And it isn’t bad at all. I’ve driven them all over and they can easily keep up with traffic, have climbed over 8,000 ft passes with no sweat, it accommodates my 6’4 frame comfortably, has a surprisingly amount of space, and although built to a price, feels rugged and sturdy. Plus the simple, rounded styling is better than any ghastly fake grilles, buldging fenders, or strange details and useless creases on many other cars

    Equipped with the five speed, I would even call it a fun car to drive and it’s a joy to utilize the limited power that the car has. Sure, the lifeless steering takes some getting used to and the body lean is comical, but once you get over the feel, it’s a tossable little car on the curves.

    Sometimes it feels like journalists only use this car as an easy scapegoat and an obvious laughingstock. But it’s also important to step back and appreciate the car for what it truly is

    • 0 avatar

      And so would you bestow it with the “Best Performance” label?

      Literally EVERY other small car outperforms the Mirage without even trying. Saying “its good for what it is” does not dismiss that fact.

      • 0 avatar

        John, I would bet $$$ that the Mirage would out perform your Taurus on an auto-x course or on the Nurburgring. Lolol!!!!

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not a performance car, so no. The award’s title is a bit misleading and is focused more on its environmental footprint than track numbers. In that case, possibly yes. It doesn’t use the raw materials needed for a hybrid or electric car, and uses less gas than almost any traditional internal combustion powered vehicle on the market.

        Compared to its rivals, the Mirage has its advantages. It’s much roomier than a Fiesta. Has better fuel economy numbers than any key rivals at the price point. Better equipped in base form than an equivalent Versa or Spark. Longer warranty, for piece of mind, than anyone else but the Accent and Rio

        The key to the Mirage is the base trim. Loading it up with features jacks the price north of $17k, and at that point, it loses the value argument. But in the $13-14k range, it’s very competitive with its rivals

        • 0 avatar
          Matt Posky

          Every car is fair game to insult or adore. The Mirage is absolutely worth defending in some circumstances (interior space for class, price, economy, etc).

          This, however, is not one of those circumstances.

  • avatar

    Thank you Automotive Science Group for reaffirming my faith in humanity. Now, back to my regularly scheduled polluting and ravaging of the atmosphere in my socially reprehensible, economically deplorable, environmentally despicable German sedan.

  • avatar

    But, BUT…which car has the most “sculpted” styling?

  • avatar

    So…”Automotive Science Group” clearly wants everyone to give up on cars by buying a Mirage.

    And, yeah, if I had to drive one, I’d give up on cars too.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    I was behind a new G4 sedan in traffic yesterday, with stickers of indecipherable origin already slathered across its bumper and trunk lid, and was somewhat surprised when I realized the little Mitsu wasn’t the used Nissan Versa I’d assumed it to be.

  • avatar

    The past participle of drag is dragged. “Drug” must be some U.S. slang.

  • avatar

    Glad to see it win that award. Now we can watch the slap fight between Mirage and Prius owners for the SJW crown.

  • avatar

    The model name says it all.

  • avatar

    It’s hilarious to see the level of indignation everyone here has about ‘the company that killed off the Evo’ actually getting an AWARD for something!

    On every car blog it’s always, “A pox on the House of Three Diamonds! A pox, I say!”

    Sort of a bizarre award, to be sure, but I am also pretty sure that Toyota and Honda were not in any way discriminated against when the results were tallied.

    Can’t we just give poor Mitsubishi this tiny, fleeting moment in the sun?

  • avatar

    One more award Mitsu can garner: Constant whipping boy award. Anytime the new Mirage comes up as a subject, all of the usual derogatory comments are bandied about and everyone feels good picking on the weird kid.

    Small, utilitarian and built to a price, this is your chance to get as close to a kei-car in North America as you can. While I was a fan of Mitsubishi 30 years ago, they long ago lost the plot, but I hope they thrive under Ghosn’s new regime. However, I do appreciate this little tin can for what it is. If I had to replace a car quickly and inexpensively, this is one I would consider.

    It’s an odd award, I agree. I don’t know enough about their metrics to comment intelligently, but I’m glad someone is thinking about this stuff.

  • avatar

    Reviewers love to hate the Mirage. People renting the Mirage hate it.

    But owners love the Mirage.

    Could it be there’s a certain segment of the market that just wants the cheapest car they can buy that reliably gets them from a to b, and uses the least gas possible?

    Nahhhh. EVERYONE buys a car based on styling, features, comfort and handling! Everyone! Nobody buys based on reliability, price and mpg! All the reviewers everywhere told me so!

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t forget those all-important 0-60 times. You know, because everyone buys that new family CUV with the intention of taking it to the drag strip and hammering it through the quarter mile against a stopwatch.

      Any car that can’t get up to freeway speed in under 8-9 seconds is considered ‘incredibly unsafe’ by online car guys nowadays, since a V6 Camry can do it in 6.1 seconds. An Accord V6 Touring needs only 5.8.

      A 1970 Challenger with a 426 Hemi needed 6.3!

  • avatar
    Pig Hater

    I know of one owner who’s owned a Mirage for 30,000 trouble free miles so far. Gotta love that honest little stripper.

    • 0 avatar

      Mine has 61k, and not one single problem. I know of someone who has one of these cars that recently got their first CEL…at 150,000 miles.

      The Mirage is as simple and reliable as a stone axe, but, of course, that isn’t good enough anymore.

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