An affordable urban runabout option, but the Mitsubishi Mirage is far from being the best-in-class.
An affordable urban runabout option, but the Mitsubishi Mirage is far from being the best-in-class.
As a simple and affordable mode of transport, the Mitsubishi Mirage does make a decent case for itself. It’s currently impossible to purchase a brand-new hatchback in the States for less than a base Mitsubishi Mirage, and it’s altogether about as competent as you’d expect a vehicle at this price point to be. The problems for the Mitsubishi Mirage emerge if you’re looking for a vehicle with a bit more flair and pizzazz than that. For sure, rivals like the Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta are pricier to buy, but they are substantially better vehicles that we feel more than justify their premiums. And if you can’t quite afford a vehicle at that price point, tidy used examples of those aforementioned examples can be bought for as much as a brand-new Mitsubishi Mirage. Overall, we do feel the Mitsubishi Mirage is good enough if you’re after something that’s cheap and cheerful. If you’re after more than that from a car, though, then the Mitsubishi Mirage won’t quite cater to your needs.
The Mitsubishi Mirage doesn’t have an amazing interior.
Considering the car’s base price of $12,995, it’s no surprise that the Mitsubishi Mirage doesn’t have an amazing interior. Thanks to the abundance of hard and scratchy plastics, it’s pretty clear that this cabin doesn’t belong to a particularly expensive car – though, to Mitsubishi’s credit, the cabin itself does feel fairly well put together, with only a slight amount of flimsiness in trim pieces further down in the bowels of the cabin. The intuitiveness of the cabin is far more impressive, however. Whilst the base model goes without the surprisingly effective 6.5-inch touchscreen interface on the mid-range and top-spec models, its control layout is still straightforward enough to operate, and shouldn’t be too troublesome to use on the move.
The Mitsubishi Mirage is fairly adept by supermini standards as a cargo carrier.
Passenger space is also alright, and especially when you factor in the size of the Mitsubishi Mirage’s rather diminutive side. Considering it’s noticeably smaller than the Kia Rio and Ford Fiesta, the Mitsubishi Mirage is surprisingly spacious: though three adults won’t be seated comfortably in the back row, there is at least enough head and leg room for taller drivers and passengers to be seated with adequate space to stretch out a bit. Likewise, the Mitsubishi Mirage is fairly adept by supermini standards as a cargo carrier. Though the likes of the Honda Fit are more suited to hauling larger loads, the Mitsubishi Mirage’s capacities of 17.2 cubic feet and 47 cubic feet with the 60:40-split rear seat backs in place and folded away respectively are actually pretty good by subcompact standards. Plus, the trunk opening is fairly wide for such a small car – though, as with a majority of vehicles in this segment, the load lip is on the higher side and there is a rear seat backs do form a prominent ridge in the trunk floor when you fold them down.
The slow steering responses does make the Mitsubishi Mirage feel surprisingly inert for a supermini.
Admittedly, that above sub-heading can be seen as being a bit harsh. The Mitsubishi Mirage is only an affordable commuter car, after all, so all it really needs to do is get the person behind the wheel from A to B with relative ease. Those after something a bit more extensive than that, though, will be left wanting with the Mitsubishi Mirage. For instance, whilst the tight turning circle means navigating tighter areas and built-up areas, the slow steering responses does make the Mitsubishi Mirage feel surprisingly inert for a supermini. It’s also worth pointing out that the steering doesn’t self-center, so the quarter-to-three steering shuffle technique your driving instructor taught you will be put to good use when you’re driving the Mitsubishi Mirage.
The ride quality isn’t particularly great on the Mitsubishi Mirage either.
The ride quality isn’t particularly great on the Mitsubishi Mirage either. Whilst it gets the job done, there’s a fidgetiness on display here that makes the car a tad uncomfortable over rougher surfaces at city speeds. Body control also isn’t amazing on the Mitsubishi Mirage either, with noticeable body lean when cornering and prominent bobbing over speed bumps and undulating road surfaces being par for the course in this subcompact car. It’s on the open road where the Mitsubishi Mirage really starts to feel out of its comfort zone, though. Whilst it’s admittedly expected that a car tailored for the urban environment won’t be amazing on highways, the amount of wind noise and tire roar on display in the Mitsubishi Mirage isn’t exactly impressive by segment standards. If you’re after a citycar that’s adept to drives outside of towns and cul-de-sacs, you’ll be far better acquainted by a vast majority of the Mitsubishi Mirage’s direct competitors.
The Mitsubishi Mirage has an appropriately tiny engine under the hood: a 1.2-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine.
Being a car built for city driving, the Mitsubishi Mirage has an appropriately tiny engine under the hood: a 1.2-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine. With outputs of 78-hp and 74 lb-ft of torque, this engine was never going to endow the Mitsubishi Mirage with much pace, though it’s more than suitable enough for the task at hand. Admittedly, you will need to work the engine a bit in order to build up speed, but the smooth-ish power delivery at lower revs means you can change up through the short gear ratios in the standard-fit five-speed manual transmission and still keep up with most of the regular traffic around you in city centers. Better still, the light clutch and positive shift action in the transmission means changing gears isn’t difficult in the slightest in the Mitsubishi Mirage. Of course, the lack of power is immediately apparent when you take the Mitsubishi Mirage out on the open roads it very clearly wasn’t totally optimized for. Worse still, the engine also isn’t particularly refined at highway cruising speeds either – and, whilst we’re on the subject of smoothness, there is a slight amount of rocking at idle (admittedly, a standard characteristic of three-cylinder engines).
With claims of 33mpg in the city and 40mpg on the highway, the Mitsubishi Mirage is one of the most efficient vehicles in this segment.
The 1.2-liter engine does at least have fuel economy going for it. With claims of 33mpg in the city and 40mpg on the highway, the Mitsubishi Mirage is one of the most efficient vehicles in this segment, and fitting the optional continuously variable transmission, or CVT, bumps that up to a very impressive 35mpg city/42mpg highway. However, we wouldn’t recommend you opt for the CVT. Though it does make the job of driving very straightforward, it is a pricey $1,200 option on base and mid-range Mitsubishi Mirages (top-spec models are only available with the CVT), and the characteristics of this transmission only exacerbate the engine’s refinement issues even further. Stick to the manual transmission if you can.
We reckon a majority of buyers will be better off with the mid-range, $14,795 ‘SE’ spec.
As a value for money proposition, the Mitsubishi Mirage makes a very admirable case for itself. It’s one of the least expensive vehicles on sale in the United States right now, which is made even more impressive when you consider what you’re getting in return for your hard-earned dollars. Even the entry-level Mitsubishi Mirages in ‘ES’ spec come with power windows, keyless entry, powered door locks, air conditioning and hill start assist as standard, which is pretty good for a sub-$13,000 car. That said, we reckon a majority of buyers will be better off with the mid-range, $14,795 ‘SE’ spec that adds 14inch alloy wheels, climate control, a reversing camera and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Bluetooth connectivity via the aforementioned 6.5-inch touchscreen interface. ‘SE’-spec Mitsubishi Mirages also come with cruise control as standard – though, given our concerns over the car’s abilities at highway speeds, it’s an unusual feature to have on such a city-oriented vehicle.
Safety-wise, the Mitsubishi Mirage fares relatively well considering its price.
There is a range-topping ‘GT’ trim on offer, but we wouldn’t advise you consider it. Along with featuring incremental upgrades like 15-inch alloy wheels and a heated front seat, this trim’s $16,495 starting price puts this spec of Mitsubishi Mirage on par with decently-specified rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Honda Fit, and thus erodes the Mirage’s value-for-money unique selling point. Safety-wise, the Mitsubishi Mirage fares relatively well considering its price. Though unable to achieve a perfect score, the Mitsubishi Mirage was (as a result of its stability control and front, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags) awarded a rating of four-out-of-five stars, with particularly impressive scores for side impact protection. The Mitsubishi Mirage also satisfies when it comes to reliability, with the five-years/60,000-miles bumper-to-bumper and 10-years/100,000-miles powertrain warranties in theory suggesting the car should be sturdy and dependable during your ownership period. However, don’t expect much of your money back come resale time, as the Mitsubishi Mirage won’t hold onto much of its value in the long run.
If it’s just a simple and basic hatchback that you’re after, then there’s a decent amount to like about the Mitsubishi Mirage. On top of being fairly spacious for such a small vehicle, the Mitsubishi Mirage is also quite the frugal vehicle that’s inexpensive to buy in most specs and gets the job done admirably. However, the Mitsubishi Mirage is held back by being disappointingly average and inert to drive, and we’re far more inclined to recommend pricier-but-far-less-compromised alternatives if you’ll be frequently taking the car out on the open road. It’s also worth pointing out that the Mitsubishi Mirage’s only noteworthy aspects are the claimed fuel economy and lower asking prices – with the latter being dependent on whether you go for the top-spec model or not. Overall, if you’re after a no-frills vehicle that’ll get you from A to B or an affordable and inexpensive runabout, then it is worth eyeing up the Mitsubishi Mirage. The flaws this car has in other crucial areas, though, means we can only recommend the Mitsubishi Mirage if you genuinely can’t stretch your budget to the more-expensive-but-less-compromised competition.