£12,180 - £14,180 Price range
It’s rare that a brand new car comes along where reviewers unanimously agree it’s well below par, but unfortunately for Mitsubishi, the new Mirage is that car.
The class-straddling Mirage is neither competitive with the city cars below it nor the superminis above, and it throws in a cheap feel and stodgy handling for good measure.
The Mirage range is at least simple to understand. Two engines, two transmissions, and three trim levels. Top-end ‘3’ cars get useful tech like keyless go and parking sensors. All have a little eco-meter encouraging you to drive a little more gently.
First, the good news: If you’re comparing it to similarly-priced cars – those in the city car class – the Mirage scores well for interior space and boot volume. It’s certainly a more voluminous vehicle than the Colt it replaces.
That’s where the positives end – testers describe the Mirage as “low-rent”. That Mitsubishi benchmarked the equally cheap-feeling Nissan Micra should be some sort of clue to the car’s ambience – only gloss black trim on the top-end models lifts an otherwise unimaginative and cheap-feeling cabin. Visibility is compromised by a rising window line and thick rear pillars.
The Mirage is not a car for keen drivers. Some may not find this an issue, but unfortunately for the Mirage it also falls down on some basic tenets of how a car should drive.
Testers criticise almost every aspect of the steering: It’s slow, reluctant to self-centre and absolutely devoid of feel. Grip is “non-existant” according to one review, while body roll varies from “extensive” to “alarming”.
Comments on the ride quality differ – for some, it soaks up minor bumps nicely and provides decent comfort. For others, it still gets caught out by larger bumps. At least most drivers agree that the slow-witted steering does have an upside – an excellent turning circle.
Two engines area available, both with three cylinders and both powered by petrol. While the smaller 1.0-litre engine is available only with a manual gearbox, you can spec the larger 1.2-litre unit with an automatic gearbox (CVT).
Finally, the Mirage wins some points back – most are fairly positive about the engine’s performance, the manual reaching 62 mph in 11.7 seconds. It has a “characterful” three-cylinder thrum and a “snappy” gearshift, though noise levels are criticised and a couple of testers suggest the engine has a few flat-spots as you rise through the rev range.
Still, it’s economical: just shy of 70 mpg is within the reach of the most frugal variants.
Performance isn't bad either, at 11.7 seconds to 62 mph, aided by a "snappy" and "delightfully precise" gearshift. Several reviewers like the character of the thrummy 3-cylinder engine too. It's main shortcoming is noise: "Gruff at idle" is how one tester puts it, though another deems it "inexcusably noisy". However bad you consider it, the main take-away is that rivals are more refined.
The Mitsubishi Mirage might not have received great reviews, but the presence of useful safety equipment means it doesn’t score too low in terms of keeping you in one piece in an accident. It received a four-star rating in Euro NCAP’s crash tests with 90 per cent protection for adult occupants.
The standard list of equipment isn’t too shabby, either. To make driving the Mirage easy (and equally safe), there’s a traction control system, ABS (Antilock Braking System) and EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution). Passive safety features include front, side, and curtain airbags available across the range. Isofix mounts for child seat are present too.
Pricing is largely on par with those in the city car class, and you do get plenty of car for your money. And while it’s a little smaller than superminis, it’s much cheaper than those offerings, making the Mirage decent value.
Top-end cars – including the CVT auto, only available on the glitziest model – are too expensive. Some other rivals, notably the Korean duo of Hyundai and Kia, and the Renault-derived Dacia Sandero, are considered far better value for money.
Critics really can’t recommend the Mitsubishi Mirage. Some may appreciate Mitsubishi’s reputation for reliability and the car’s simple, economical nature, but too many other rivals offer too much for similar money – although the Mirage does get a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
In short it neither handles well nor does it look exceptional. Engines are frugal, which should keep the running costs low but nothing else seems to work for the Mirage.