Tim says goodbye to his Mirage, and ponders whether it's a good buy...
After six months at CarAdvice HQ in Sydney, the time has come to farewell our longest-serving long-termer of 2015, the Mitsubishi Mirage.
To give you a snapshot of our journey together, we’ve covered 3482 kilometres with the little $15,540-plus-on-road-costs, ‘Pop Green’ Mirage LS CVT that’s been unimaginatively nicknamed ‘Kermit’ by CA’s marketing assistant Kat, and is more affectionately referred to as ‘The Flying Avocado’ by photographer Christian.
The 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage LS has spent most of its time with us in its natural habitat – busy city streets and suburbs – though it’s also helped us occasionally escape the hustle and bustle for weekend trips to the coast and the country.
Eleven refuelling stops saw us squeeze 226 litres of regular unleaded petrol into its tank at a cost of $338.35 (at an average price of 149.5 cents per litre).
This translates to average fuel consumption of 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres across the life of our extended loan. That’s about 33 per cent above the official combined cycle rating of 4.9L/100km for our CVT-equipped (continuously variable transmission) variant, though it’s not unusual for real-world tests to return results up to 50 per cent higher than sticker on the windscreen, meaning the micro Mitsubishi performed well within the acceptable range.
This frugality combines with the Mirage’s $1160 four-year/60,000km capped-price servicing program to make it one of the most affordable new vehicles on the market to run.
We’re also happy to report our Mirage performed without a hint of drama throughout its stint in the CarAdvice garage, requiring only basic maintenance such as topping up washer jet fluid and monitoring tyre pressures. One of the benefits of having only basic technology and features is that there’s little that can go wrong.
And Mitsubishi’s five-year/130,000km warranty is currently unmatched in the micro class, giving owners segment-leading protection if something your ownership experience isn’t as seamless as ours.
Though lightly equipped, the Mirage’s Bluetooth phone connectivity system with audio streaming will likely be a favourite, particularly among younger drivers. While it’s ridiculously convoluted to pair initially, it’s actually one of the best in the business at reconnecting when you jump back in the car, quickly picking up where your playlist left off. Cruise control (unique to LS spec) will also appeal to those spending more time on the highway.
The Mirage’s cabin doesn’t push any design barriers. The steering wheel’s lack of reach adjustment and the interior’s exclusive use of hard plastics (which picked up a few scratches) and budget materials create no illusion that you’re sitting in anything other than one of the cheapest cars on the market. The controls are laid out effectively, however, being easy to use when you’re on the go.
The seats are comfortable front and rear, with surprising headroom in the back. The 235-litre boot is about average for the micro class, and easily swallows a couple of weekend bags or a week’s worth of shopping.
The Mirage can’t keep up with the dynamic performance of some rivals, however.
Its 57kW/100Nm 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is grumbly and coarse, and vibrates the cabin at idle. The modest little motor feels perky around town, but takes persistence and patience to get up to highway speeds. The CVT can be slow to react when you hit the accelerator and is prone to lurching when you step off it, though it at least helps the engine settle nicely once cruising.
The suspension lacks sophistication, banging loudly and harshly over ruts and bumps, and the steering is slow (3.5 turns lock to lock), feels vague around the straight-ahead position, and is oddly reluctant to self-centre.
The Mirage also gets buffeted around in gusty weather, no doubt a side effect of its skinny tyres and featherweight 890kg mass.
So, the big question: after six months with the Mitsubishi Mirage, would we buy one?
Mitsubishi’s website quotes a recommended driveaway price of $17,240 for our car, and at that price, no. But at this ultra-competitive end of the market, you’re in a strong position to haggle for a deal.
If you’re set on the Mirage LS CVT, we’d suggest pushing your dealer to make its $14,990 base price the final price, throwing in on-road costs and metallic paint for free. If you can make do without cruise control and alloys, you can save another grand with the entry-grade Mirage ES.
If you can hold out for six months, the first quarter of next year will see the arrivals of the Kia Picanto, which will come with a low price and a seven-year warranty, and the all-new Holden Spark, which has earned high praise in early road tests overseas. Both would be worth a look before committing to the compact Mitsubishi.
Our ultimate recommendation would be digging a little deeper into your pocket and stepping up to the next class, where city cars like the Toyota Yaris, Honda Jazz and Mazda 2 are superior in almost every way to the Mitsubishi Mirage and its fellow micro cars for only a grand or two extra.