Mitsubishi's Mirage hatch has been a runaway success in the city car sector. Now, there's a bigger sedan available in the competitive segment.
Priced from $14,990, the new Mitsubishi Mirage sedan might just be the best value car on the market in Australia. Sharp pricing is only one element, though: the new Mirage sedan also has to cut the mustard around town, which is exactly where it is going to ply its trade. The bigger question is whether we can justify recommending that you stretch to the sedan over the hatch.
The Mirage hatch has been a runaway success thanks to its pricing, drivability, functionality and user-friendliness. According to Mitsubishi, though, the tiny city car segment is getting more combative by the day and there’s definitely room – no pun intended – for a Mirage with more, well room.
As such, the Mirage sedan is 535mm longer, 5mm wider and 15mm taller than the hatch, measuring 4245mm long, 1670mm wide and 1515mm tall. It also gains an extra 100mm between the front and rear wheels (now 2550mm) which is said to improve the amount of space inside.
That alleged extra room was the first claim I tested. I couldn’t help myself. With the driver’s seat set to my position (I'm just over six-feet tall), I prepared myself for some yoga manoeuvres that would help me fold myself into the back seat. No such stupidity (or embarrassment) was required. As you can see from the photos, there’s more than enough room back there for adults, due in no small part to the additional length of the wheelbase. On to more important things then…
I nabbed the Mitsubishi Mirage Sedan LS model for our review. It’s priced at $17,490 and is available only with a CVT automatic gearbox.
Some of the notable standard features for that price include six airbags, stability control, climate control air conditioning, remote central locking and push button start with smart key, auto headlights and wipers, electric windows, electric side mirrors, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, steering wheel mounted audio/phone controls, USB input in the glove box and an auxiliary input on the centre console. The good news is the Bluetooth is a cinch to connect and it works. There’s also a leather trimmed steering wheel and privacy glass.
The Mirage sedan competes with the Nissan Almera (from $16,990), Hyundai Accent (from $16,990) and the revamped Honda City (from $15,990). Read the full pricing and specifications breakdown for the Mirage sedan here.
As with the hatch, Mirage sedan is powered by a willing little 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine, which churns out 57kW at 6000rpm and 100Nm at 4000rpm. The ADR fuel claim is a scant 4.9 litres/100km.
Styling is in the eye of the beholder and the Mirage sedan isn’t what I'd call pretty. This segment is about value more than anything though, so saving money might be a whole lot more attractive to potential buyers than worrying about a style line or design feature.
Cheap, comfortable, nimble, efficient, light steering, easy to park, tight turning circle and a modicum of driving fun. These requirements sum up, in my mind at least, the brief for the ideal city car. As a recent owner of a somewhat prehistoric 1998 Daihatsu Move (yes I’m insane), I’m confident I’ve got my head around the tiny three-cylinder engine package too, although I was a little skeptical from the outset about the auto transmission.
Hit the starter button, and the Mirage barks into life and settles into a slightly lumpy idle. My 847cc Daihatsu had a tendency to rock and roll with some gusto at idle, but the Mirage sedan is (as it should be) a whole lot smoother if not quite as smooth as a basic four-cylinder engine. It’s not offensive though by any means and in reality, it’s this uneven tempo that gives the three-cylinder some of its charm.
The CVT works well with the engine at city speeds, and while the Mirage sedan is no rocketship, it gets off the mark quickly enough, gets up to speed easily, and holds that speed without having to be worked too hard. The auto undeniably dulls some of the tiny engine’s performance, but the payoff with the self-shifter comes the minute you’re stuck in traffic.
For many buyers that slight lessening of performance is a price I’d recommend paying. If you love changing gears, grab the manual (but you'll have to go for a lesser ES model at $14,490), but if you just need to get to and from work as efficiently and easily as possible, the CVT is an excellent choice. This particular CVT is as good as any of the current crop and a lot of the previous slurring, whining and groaning has been eradicated. That’s not Mitsubishi’s CVTs I’m nailing here – all of them were pretty awful when they first started appearing.
A quick blat down the freeway indicated that the Mirage can easily handle 110km/h, although if your commute sees you negotiating the freeway both ways each day, you should note that cruise control isn't available on any model. That said, the Mirage is easily up to it, which is a handy insight to have in your back pocket.
As the revs rise, there isn’t anything nasty or offensive about the engine note either and you can easily conduct a conversation in the cabin at 100km/h without screaming at each other. Road and wind noise is kept to a minimum too, which indicates just enough insulation and sound deadening not to impede on overall weight.
I found as many rubbish Sydney road surfaces as I could and the Mirage sedan never felt cheap, too light or tinny. It soaks up the city commute comfortably and without getting unsettled, the lightweight steering especially making tight streets and sharp corners a pleasure. The longer wheelbase and revised suspension make the sedan more competent and comfortable than the hatch. Three point turns are reserved for only the narrowest of laneways, thanks to the efficient turning circle.
The cabin is comfortable, airy and a whole lot more spacious than you might expect. The aforementioned rear seat space took me by surprise, and there’s excellent visibility from behind the wheel too. Reverse parking the Mirage is as easy as pie thanks in no small part to the steering, but also the large side mirrors - and despite the fact reversing sensors or a rear-view camera are unavailable on any Mirage sedan variant. Visibility is also excellent either fore or aft, and the glass house area seems massive compared to a lot of current cars that seems to compromise visibility for style.
You sit ‘on’ the seat more than ‘in’ it, but both front chairs are still comfortable. I spent three hours behind the wheel on the hop and didn’t feel like I needed to get out to stretch my legs. There’s plenty of headroom too, which means you never feel claustrophobic.
I liked the steering wheel-mounted controls, and quality of the Bluetooth phone connection. The USB Input is cleverly hidden in the glove box (why can’t all manufacturers have this feature to hide your audio device?), and a 12V plug takes care of charging those pesky smartphones and portable devices. The audio system is adequate and doesn’t sound too hollow and the audio streaming works nicely. I didn’t notice any cutting out during my testing.
Climate control is a bonus at this end of the market and running the air-conditioner doesn’t tax the engine too much either. Likewise, the standard electric windows. It wasn’t that long ago that micro cars with electric windows were unheard of.
The boot is a luxury previous city car owners would never have dared to dream about. It’s big enough to handle every daily chore and the occasional run to the airport loaded with a few suitcases if need be. At 450 litres, the sedan’s boot is 215 litres larger than the hatch and not far off the much larger Holden Commodore.
I didn’t like the fact that I can’t open the boot via the boot itself. There is not latch or release button as such, meaning you have to use either the key, or the lever in the cabin. It’s a minor gripe, but I’d like to be able to access the boot from a conventional button outside.
Mitsubishi's capped price servicing programme means that maintenance works out to be a bargain basement $870 over three years of ownership. Owners also get the security of a five-year, 100,000km warranty.
After some solid driving time with the Mirage sedan, I’m impressed. Impressed by it’s broad CV of skills and attributes despite its keen pricing, but also impressed by just how comfortable and practical such a small car can be.
I liked the hatch the first time I drove it too, and I think there is a place for the slightly different sedan. If you need more space and comfort than that afforded by the hatch, then the sedan is the car for you. If you simply prefer a sedan to a hatch style-wise, Mitsubishi now has a viable option, and one that will give its rivals a run for their money.