2014 Mitsubishi Mirage – 3rd World Appliance0
We at AutoPacific have just completed a week’s worth of driving the Thailand-built Mitsubishi Mirage. Now we know what drivers in a third world country experience when they drive locally assembled cars. And we don’t like it much.
A Little Background Don’t get us wrong. We love Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi was AutoPacific’s first client twenty-eight years ago and they remain a good client today. But, sometimes in a rush to get a new model onto the lots of their product-starved dealers in the USA, they choose poorly.
Mitsubishi has culled its lineup over the past several years dropping range topping Diamante premium mid-size sedan, the once very popular Eclipse sporty car, the Galant mid-size sedan and the Endeavor crossover SUV. Now they rely on the aging Lancer sedan, the fresh Outlander crossover SUV and the OUtlander Sport compact crossover SUV. Oh yeah, there is also the minuscule i (iMIEV) electric car. This is not enough product to satisfy the demands of Mitsubishi Motors of North America’s dealer body, so they have added the Mirage to the mix. MMNA has announced they will add a mid-size car based on a Renault D-Class sedan (Galant sized) and a C-Class sedan (Lancer sized). These will be built at the Renault-Samsung factory in South Korea.
It appeared for awhile that Mitsubishi had hit stride with the distinctive jet fighter nose of its vehicles. We saw it on the Outlander, Lancer and Outlander Sport. Apparently, in Japan, this distinctive face was considered too aggressive and Mitsubishi began to adopt a softer look. The first example of this is the 2013 Outlander mid-size crossover SUV. While there is nothing objectionable about the Outlander, it no longer turns heads. The new Mirage takes an even more anodyne approach to style.
Mirage is a Value Story of Sorts The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage we drove is an $15,990 ES model in Kiwi Green (while this color would not be our choice, there eight somewhat cheerful colors to choose from) with continuously variable transmission. The base car comes with equipped with features we call a “complete car”: Ppwer windows, locks and mirrors, keyless entry, rear window defroster and automatic climate control for $12,995 (right now there is a $1,000 rebate on the car). Moving up to the ES model adds 14″ alloy wheels, Bluetooth, FAST-Key keyless entry, steering wheel mounted controls, cruse control, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
Mirage Has Some Sort of Style The Mirage is a very small car. We would classify it as an Economy Car and the international term would be a B-Car. Sometines it appears that companies designing a very small car have decided that style is not important until you look at the Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio. Mitsubishi took the plain-jane approach when they should have gone a high personality route like the smart or Fiat 500. The face of the car is bland. Where the jet fighter nose would have added distinctiveness to its face, the face is more Pokemon than handsome. The side view has a rising beltline with a crisp character line running below it.
Driving the Mirage Driving the Mirage is reminiscent of driving a 1986 Hyundai Excel. Lets start with the powertrain. The Mirage is powered by a 1.2L 3-cylinder MIVEC engine. It has a whopping 74-horsepower (but it does get 44mpg on the highway). In order to get any performance out of the car you really have to mash on it. Pedal to the metal brings out very unfortunate booms, groans, roars. Mirage is not happy when pressed. Handling is substandard when compared to the more composed small cars of today. Body lean is very pronounced when cornering. Ride control is pitchy and its very short wheelbase does not help. The steering wheel seldom self-corrects. It feels like you are yawing the car up and down the freeway. This is a drive feel we have not felt for decades.
A couple of hurtful comments heard in the office… “I would want one in white so people would not think it was mine. It would be a car for a delivery service or pizza delivery”. “Maybe put big black numbers on the roof to guarantee they would not think it was mine”.
So, Mirage is not Mitsubishi’s best effort. At $15,990 for the car we drove, it seems a bit steep. But looking at even the base prices of other economy cars today, a Hyundai Accent GLS with a 138-horsepower 1.6L DOHC 4-cylinder engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, power windows and air conditioning is $16,455. Similar prices are for the Kia Forte. Both would be bigger and more fun to drive than the Mirage.