July 31, 2014
What’s Hot: Tight turning circle, good ride comfort, rear seat space.
What’s Not: Lacks a little refinement, plain interior.
X-FACTOR: A big rear seat and lofty driving position: The Mirage defies its dimensions.
Vehicle Style: Light sedan
Price: $16,490 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 57kW/100Nm 3cyl petrol | CVT automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.9 l/100km | tested: 7.1 l/100km
In the micro category (also known as sub-light or 'city car'), the Mitsubishi Mirage hatch dominates the sales charts.
This year, it has taken 58 percent of sub-light sales and outsells its nearest competitor, the Nissan Micra by more than three-to-one.
Now Mitsubishi has a booted version, the Mirage Sedan. But it steps up a category into the light car class (thanks to a longer wheelbase than the hatch). It also comes with surprising room inside.
Light cars are no small game in Australia. This year, sales in the light-car class are just shy of medium and large car sales combined.
Hatches make up the biggest slice of that pie; sedans have a tougher time finding homes.
Will the Mirage Sedan do things differently enough to be a strong seller? We ran around in an entry level ES, with auto transmission, to see what this compact sedan could manage.
- Steering wheel audio and Bluetooth controls.
- Cloth seat trim, urethane steering wheel and gear shifter.
- Manual air conditioning, remote locking, power windows on all doors.
- Four-speaker audio with CD/AM/FM/MP3 playback and USB and Aux inputs.
- Tilt adjustable steering column and drivers footrest.
Basic, but not bare, might be the best way to describe the Mirage Sedan’s furnishings. Certainly the dash feels well-built and with a gloss-black centre stack it looks surprisingly flash.
Elsewhere though, the Mirage Sedan reflects its sticker price. The dash and door trims are constructed solely from hard plastics, there are exposed screw-heads in the door handles, the seats are fairly flat, and plastics and trim quality sit at the cheerful cheaper end of the quality spectrum.
But it looks reasonably durable and is nicely laid-out.
Inside, it feels surprisingly roomy from the driver's seat and there’s genuine legroom for two adults in the rear. You could squeeze a third in for short trips, but width is lacking.
Headroom is generous up front, but tapers off in the rear. The driving position is quite high for such a small car, and provides good outward visibility.
Covered storage is scarce but there are plenty of cup and bottle holders up front and a storage shelf above the glovebox for any odds and ends you might carry.
The boot is a generous 450 litres (bettering the hatch’s 285 litres) and the rear seat does fold, but lacks a split seatback.
ON THE ROAD
- 1.2 litre three cylinder: 57kW at 6000rpm, 100Nm at 4000rpm.
- Five-speed manual or optional CVT automatic (as tested), front wheel drive.
- MacPherson front suspension, torsion beam rear axle.
- Ventilated front disc brakes, rear drum brakes.
- 940Kg kerb weight - 9.6 metre turning circle.
The Mirage Sedan joins a growing list of compact cars that can prove their mettle both in and out of town.
Hustle it along and there’s plenty of thrash from the little three-cylinder 1.2 litre in the nose, and keeping it on the boil needs a heavy right foot. Strive to keep at least 3000rpm on the tacho though and - like most small modern cars - the Mirage has little trouble moving with the traffic.
The CVT transmission is as smooth as they come, but still suffers from a ‘rubber band’ feel if you squeeze the throttle a little more firmly. Mash the pedal to the floor however and there’s a proper kickdown response.
Away from the city lights the Mirage is quite the competent highway tourer. There’s no buzzing engine noise and wind and tyre noise are also decent.
With a wheelbase 100mm longer than the hatch, the Mirage Sedan is better able to iron out bumps, speed humps and rural potholes.
The ride is supremely comfy with one on board, but load up with three adults and the ride-height drops, taking suspension travel with it.
The tight turning-circle makes carpark work a cinch, and the steering is light enough to twirl into tight spaces, but still stable enough on the open road. There’s little in the way of steering feel or feedback, but it surely won’t be missed by many.
Mitsubishi has made an effort to isolate the excessive noise, vibration and harshness of the hatch, and it shows.
The Sedan’s refinement, while far from superb is certainly superior to the five-door hatch model.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - the Mirage sedan scored 34.07 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: The Mirage comes stocked with six airbags, ABS brakes, stability control, hill start assist (CVT models only) brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution.
All seats have height adjustable head restraints and three point seatbelts, front seats feature height adjustable belts with pretensioners. There’s also rear seat top tether and ISOFIX child seat anchorage points.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
There’s a mix of value, size and price, so it pays have a thorough shop around to find your best fit.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With the least power and smallest dimensions in its class, the Mirage really deserves to be in a lower VFACTS category alongside the hatchback model.
Price is good for the CVT auto, but not great - the $2000 penalty over the manual seems pretty steep.
It is what it is: a very small, economical and well-built car with good room inside and a roomy boot. However, if you expect to be driving longer kilometres and can stretch the budget just a little further, the Honda City, Hyundai Accent or Holden Barina may be better choices.
Otherwise the Mirage Sedan comes with the same qualities that have contributed to the Mirage’s success.
A combination of price, balanced features, 5-Star safety and five-year warranty will see it find homes in Aussie driveways.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- Mirage Sedan ES manual - $14,490
- Mirage Sedan ES CVT - $16,490
- Mirage Sedan LS CVT - $17,490