• Expected entry price, fuel efficiency, CO2 emissions, simplicity, no frills
  • CVT, 1.2-litre engine may be too small for some, lack of sophistication

6 / 10

Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review

The next-generation Mitsubishi Mirage is heading to Australia towards the end of the year with a small engine but with big ambitions.

Mitsubishi is building the light-car out of a brand new plant in Thailand, which will keep the price lower than the Japanese-built Mitsubishi Colt it replaces. The previous-generation three-door Mitsubishi Mirage ceased production in 2003 but had managed to build a successful fan base of more than 47,000 buyers in Australia.

Powered by a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine, the new Mitsubishi Mirage is competing in the light class against the Nissan Micra and to an extent, even the Suzuki Swift. With 57kW of power and 100Nm of torque, the 830kg (up to 870kg) Mirage is built for inner-city driving with a big focus on fuel efficiency and emissions. Although official Australian specifications haven’t been released, the Thai version manages a respectable 4.1L/100km fuel economy using 91 RON fuel, which should be similar to what it will do under Australian design rules (ADR).

From the outside the new Mirage portrays a very minimalist design, with simple and conservative styling that Mitsubishi likes to call “frill-free”. Whether or not it will appeal to its target market (under 35s and over 65s) remains to be seen. One can argue that it has lost the edgy character of the previous-generation Colt and Mirage, which were both pushing the boundaries for light cars at the time.

Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review

Nonetheless, the conservative styling is relatively aerodynamic, with a drag coefficient of 0.29 (which means better fuel efficiency). It also allows for a bigger than expected interior, with generous head and legroom for all passengers. The low belt line and thin A-pillars provide great forward and side visibility.

To test drive the new Mitsubishi Mirage, CarAdvice headed to the Bhira International Circuit, two hours east of Bangkok. Our test cars were Thai-spec Mirage 1.2-litre variants coupled to either a five-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Sit inside and the Mirage offers a modern and clean cabin. There’s an almost overwhelming amount of black colouring used throughout but overall the layout is simple and ergonomic. Like most cars in this class, hard plastics are used throughout the cabin and around the doors. Australia is expected to get two variants, with the high-end Mirage likely to include satellite-navigation (with DVD player) with Bluetooth support and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Both models will get power windows all around, automatic climate control, six airbags and electronic stability control.

The cloth-trim front seats are supportive but can do with more side bolstering. The steering wheel makes do without telescopic (in and out reach) adjustment but the position and size of the wheel means even a 190cm-tall driver will find it easy to drive comfortably. The rear seats are surprisingly spacious, with great head and legroom. They can easily accommodate four adults with a fifth possible if the need arises.

Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review

Although some markets will also get a 1.0-litre version of the Mirage, Australia is only taking the 1.2-litre. When coupled to a CVT transmission there’s a slight lag in where the 100Nm of torque comes into play, but ultimately it’s not noticeably different in feel to the Nissan Micra four-speed auto (although the Mirage is around 10 per cent lighter).

Around the Bhira circuit we pushed the CVT to its limits and found it struggling to provide coherent power delivery. Even so, when driven sedately it’s smooth and easy to live with, making it the ideal choice for everyday city use. Mitsubishi picked a CVT over a conventional automatic transmission due to the fuel efficiency gains, but as with the Mitsubishi Lancer and Mitsubishi ASX, the CVT does tend to make a fair bit of noise when pushed.

On the other hand, the five-speed manual transmission makes for a far more enjoyable drive. So much so that we initially thought our manual test car was coupled to a different engine. Torque delivery is linear and overall acceleration feel is far superior to the CVT. Operating the manual gearbox is a simple process thanks to a light clutch and smooth gearshifts. Drivers are likely to spend a fair bit of time switching between second and third for inner city driving but otherwise it’s the pick of the two if you can drive stick.

Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review

Mitsubishi’s aim with the new Mirage was to create a car for the global market. That meant it had to be affordable to succeed in emerging markets but also sophisticated enough to appeal in mature markets such as Australia.

However, in order to create a car that will appeal to the whole world, the Japanese had to take a slightly different approach in the hope of keeping costs down. For example, the three-cylinder engine lacks the relatively standard direction injection system seen in most new engines. The CVT, although new, doesn’t have preset gear ratios for pseudo-manual driving and there’s no choice of a bigger engine.

Around the race track – clearly not this Mitsubishi’s intended domain – the Mirage was relatively well behaved. Our Thai test cars didn’t come with a front stabiliser bar, ABS or stability control, but still proved a fun package when pushed. Steering feel is typical of a light car  – light and somewhat dull (which may not be reflective of the Australian delivered vehicles). The Mirage is by no means a Suzuki Swift in its handling characteristics but it’s also likely to be a few thousand dollars cheaper than its Japanese rival.

There are no plans for a Mirage Ralliart or a diesel variant (although we believe a Mirage electric is in the works). The Japanese insist the new Mirage is built on the philosophy of keeping things simple, affordable and efficient.

Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review
Mitsubishi Mirage Review

Although still to be independently crash-tested, the Mitsubishi Mirage was designed and is capable of achieving a five-star safety rating, according to the company. With two front, two side and two curtain airbags, plus a variety of active safety features all as standard kit, it may prove a winner just on its Japanese and safety credentials.

It enters a market that is already well catered for by the Nissan Micra, Suzuki Swift and a variety of other vehicles. Mitsubishi may well hit the sweet spot with the new Mirage if it can find the perfect balance between standard equipment, price position, fuel efficiency and safety features.

No doubt Mitsubishi Australia will aim to leverage the strong Mirage badge as it seeks to sell around 600 units per month when the new model goes on sale towards the end of the year. Prices are expected to start around the $13,000 mark for a base model manual Mirage.

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Mitsubishi Mirage Review
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  • Sumpguard

      The styling already looks dated!

  • WayneTSV

    This car will only appeal to the elderly, and is a throw back to the late 90’s.

    The Malaysians and even the Chinese offer more appealing cars in this price range, and that’s saying something!

    • Henry Toussaint

      The Green is a very BRIGHT colour! and that rear seat has no design..

  • coolbeans

    Mitsubishi are fast losing the plot. First they serve up the ugly new Outlander and they follow up with this abomination. I won’t be surprised if they botch the next Lancer too.

  • Robj


  • Robj

    least the old one had some character, this looks super dull..

  • Eric V

    I had a ’99 Mirage from new and loved it. This current thing looks dull as dishwater. You could put a Nissan badge on it, it’s that dull.
    When we see these on the road we should be very wary of them because they will be driven by people who know nothing about cars and driving, and will care even less.

  • mo

    As an owner of the old Mirage who has watched rear seat passengers struggle to get in and out, I must say I like the new Mirage. Its simple, affordable and to the point. It sounds like its going to have best in class fuel economy, a great feature-set, excellent safety and a boring uninspiring drive. Perfect for its target market! 

    I appreciate Mitsubishi’s honesty about the cars intentions. 

    • Phunken

      I burrowed a old (90s) Mirage while my new Lancer is in for a service and can’t believe how basic it is. It can’t even overtake a Micra on the road. There are no tacho, but the only thing i remember is how slowwwwww it was. Really can’t find anything of interest.

  • Milsie

    I’d rather walk…

  • HaplessPossum

    That green Mirage looks awful!

  • MisterZed

    Alborz – the Mirage was last sold in Australia in 2003, not 2005.

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      Thanks, I’ve updated the story to reflect this. The 2005 figure came from Mitsubishi themselves, but I imagine they are referring to when it was last on sale (likely had models left over), rather than when it ceased production (in 2003).

      • MisterZed

        I just checked my VFACTS figures. There were actually a little over 2,000 Mirages sold in 2004, but they were all built in 2003 and mostly sold in the first few months of the year. A further 8 were sold/registered in 2005. So, to be fair, you could say the Mirage was on sale until 2004 – that’s a bit under 8 years (having gone on sale in 1996).

  • Dman

    Haha, looks like a 10 year old car already!

  • Showtime

    I can understand what they are trying to achieve here. Compare this to all entry level cars (Suzuki Alto, Barina Spark, i20, etc.) and you’ll find it will probably be just as competitive.

    This is the kind of car you buy your child who is learning to drive.

    • Robj

      why, no safety here….prefer second hand mid size.

      • Showtime

        No safety? This thing will have 6 airbags, ESC, EBD, ABS, etc.

        It’s the 8-year-old second hander that is lacking a lot of safety features, not to mention problems that come with a car of that age.

  • Smart US

    depending on the prices.. .this car can hit the sweet spot although sweating a bit more…

  • sam123

    Yes, I agree with everyone else.  It looks rubbish.  The back seat is my favourite feature, so contoured and comfy looking, not!  But on a serious note,  I find this a very disapponting vehicle at best and and very worried for Mitsubishi is this is their best work.  The will not move any at 13k.  A base model Alto is clearly a better car (IMHO) and for around the same money a Micra or i20 (damn, even a new Getz if you can still find one) would be a better buy.  I think 10k would be a more reasonable price, but even then I would be pained to part with my hard earned cash for this piece of embarrassment.

    • Phunken

      I think this car will be more for the nana type who’s too blind to care about the look, this will work well in the used market with the standard equipment but than there’s so many better alt.

  • Altezza

    Although the car looks dull and already dated, hope that Mitsubishi Australia can set the right price for this car. If they set this car starting at $14000 for its lowest model, they will fail.

  • Able

    It’s not that impressive on the outside but I like the interior. It looks a billion times nicer on the inside than the Alto or Micra and that’s something a lot of commenters seem to be overlooking because the exterior is uninspiring. Pretty sure its competitors aren’t as nice to look at and it looks a little but expensive, unlike the Micra and especially the Alto.

    But really, just buy something used or bigger.

  • Mike

    Id rather drive a 10 Year Mirage than this one!!

  • BP

    Better than that Colt of a thing.

    • MisterZed

      Shame we never got the Colt facelift with the “fighter jet” grille, that they got in Europe.

  • John

    Yeah, sure it’s bland, but it’s not that bad looking. I’d have one of these over any current model Chinese car, and not just because of looks. If it’s priced right – say, $13,990 driveaway – it will sell. On that topic, with cars of such low cost, the standard dealer delivery rip-off can equate to around 10% of the cost of the vehicle. Time to finally end that rip-off!

    • sam123

      At $13,990 it will get smashed by the competition.  It needs to be somewhere between 10 and 12 to sell I think.  They used to have the Colt, which was quite a good car (part Smart For4 I believe)  and it was only 15k but they couldnt give them away. 

      • MisterZed

        Colt failed partly because it was auto only for the first 2 years and cost $18,990.  People probably weren’t even aware of the manual when it finally arrived after 2 years. 

  • carl

    if this sold at the entry level $10990 and topping at $13990 i’d consider one just as a cheap runner round.

  • John

    one advantage of this new design is that it can’t age as it already has

  • 42 = The Answer

    “The Japanese insist the new Mirage is built on the philosophy of keeping things simple, affordable and efficient”

    More like, Boring, cheaper production costs and slower than walking! The only decent thing on this car is the front end styling, once again the back end looks like it was designed for another car. (Much the same as the Lancer Sportback). If Mitsubishi don’t offer an in-between variant with a bigger engine or a new model to slot in before Lancer then they’re going to lose out on the Fiesta, Polo, Mazda 2 market. This really should be a sub-light

    • 42 = The Answer

      The spoiler should be standard!!!

      • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

        It will be.

  • Sakdjfhlajdhfladfladf

    It’s a bit of a outcast compared with the rest of the range, with their so called “jet fighter” look. Cars that are different sometimes can be rewarding, but this Mirage just isn’t one of those cars. Dated styling, unmodern styling. Really disappointing. That keyless start stop ignition button is the only part of the car that reminds me it’s actually a new model and not something from the late 90’s. Mitsubishi are really heading downhill right now with this car. 

  • Don Quay

    I think they tried to copy the styling of the Mazda 2, Nissan Micra and perhaps even the i20 but left out the good bits. Yes, even the i20 looks better than this.

  • Majorbob565

    How hard is it to open the boot and take a picture – not even a mention of the size and practicality of the boot. Sure people are interested in how it drives, seating but why is it car journalists have this inhibition when it comes to boots and there capacity/practicality?

    • carl

      go to the top of the page, you will see gallery. There is a picture of the boot space.

  • vrx26

    A move backwards in overall design and powertrain. Quality wise it looks like its competing with Chinese made cars – good enough to move you from point a to b. I drive a Mitsubishi but I don’t like the way their heading with their car designs – it’s actually depressing not a hint of excitement at all.

  • Fi2

    The interior is decent for it though

  • Vins

    It looks so Hyundai i20

  • FocusXR5

    My friend had a ’98 dark blue Mirage, 5 speeds manual, it looks better than this one.  Did someone change the clock backward?

  • nickdl

    I think Mitsubishi might have a bit of trouble in selling this in established markets like Europe and Australia. People generally aspire to own a car that looks decent, no matter how cheap it is. Tata found this even in the Indian market with the Nano, which has been a massive failure. It turns out people don’t want to own the cheapest car in the world.

    The fact that Mitsubishi itself states the Mirage isn’t designed to be interesting signifies a complete lack of passion in the brand’s recent models, bar the Evo. Don’t get me wrong I really like the idea of a no-frills runabout, but I’d still like it to be a decent steer and look okay. The Mirage wouldn’t have looked good if released 10 years ago. By all indications it won’t drive that well either.

    Still, if they price it at $12,990 driveaway I’m sure some people will be tempted. At least it’s better than that awful Chery. 

  • nickdl

    The Micra has a 4 speed auto, not a CVT.

  • The Salesman

    Kinda looks like the Proton Savy from the side. Maybe some of the development alliance coming into play here.  

  • Phunken

    The body colour B pillars is very 90s, not helping it to appeal to chic city drivers who would be its core demo. The rear remind me of the Daewoo Matiz. What happen to the Lancer and ASX edgy styling, the only cue is the deep side character lines that distinquish it from a Micra. The old Mirage is still handsome with its squat and wedgy look. I’ll prefer the Swift still.

    • MisterZed

      This is true, however only the green car in the pic has body-colour B pillars.  The red car does not.  Also, remember that the base model Micra, and even Toyota Corolla sedan have body-colour B-pillars.

  • gt86.com.au

    with cars like this i am amazed that mitsubishi is still in business

  • Edward

    This car commits the ultimate sin of being mediocre. The old Mirage that many people still drive today has much more appeal.

  • Karl Sass

    The 90’s just rang, they want their car back.

    Oh hang on, they rang back and said you can keep it!

  • TomW

    This looks like the kind of car foisted on “developing” markets, i.e. not somewhere like Australia. Then again, maybe that’s how Mitsubishi sees us?

  • Martin

    I really don’t see what is so bad about this car. It is cheap reliable transport for the masses who cannot afford to spend a lot on a car, but want something new so they don’t have to worry about anything not working/falling apart. Granted it looks about as appealing as a pair of crocs, but its target market are less likely to care about performance/looks than someone buying a mazda 2 or fiesta. I think people are so offended by it because its a Mitsubishi and it’s not what they expected from the company.

  • Hung Low

    It looks like something from a Chinese car manufacturer. Hope it is priced accordingly and with a back seat like that all you need is a clothes iron that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket!

  • Sircastle

    Its a little shopping car.   If you want a Ferrari go buy one.
     What do you Jeremy Clarkson wanna be’s want for 380,000 baht

    • MisterZed

      380,000 baht??  That’s $11,600 AUD.  It’s going to cost much more than that when it comes out here – most likely $13,990 (or 460,000 baht).  For that kind of money people expect something that doesn’t look like it’s from the 90s.

  • SteveAd

    Awful! How could they replace the wonderful Colt with this thing? they downsized the car, made it ugly and maybe they are also hoping to compete with  an Up!, or an Alto? Good luck Mitsubishi. 

  • Nemi

    Dayum, I never thought I would miss old Hyundai Getz.

  • Izaksonaj

     The biggest problem with this car will be that Mitsubishi Australia will cut the Navigation System

  • MisterZed

    A couple of other things to note is that the base model only has 2 speakers. This is something last seen back in the 1990s. The base model is also only available in 4 different colours, compared with 6 for the other trim levels. You can’t get a base model in black, for example.