Text: Dean Ang / Photos: Dean Ang | posted April 01, 2013 17:10
Small is the new big
What car can you buy with less than PhP600,000 these days? Asides from something made in China, choices are pretty slim... until the new Mirage came along.
Can this new hatchback from Mitsubishi get the job done? Let's see what it's like.
Prior to this new generation Mirage, the nameplate itself was used loosely between the previous generation Colt subcompact and Lancer sedan models, depending on trademark issues with regards to the country. Now the Mirage has gone back to what it was originally supposed to be: an affordable subcompact aimed to increase the brand's presence in emerging markets worldwide.
Design wise, the all new Mitsubishi Mirage looks a bit conservative compared to other subcompacts in the market, though not to the point that you wouldn't want to be seen driving one. Mitsubishi might have just designed it that way to lower production costs and to appeal to the most number of people as it can; after all, it's supposed to be a global, mass-market model. This being the GLS variant, it gets some nice touches like a sporty looking rear spoiler, fog lights, and 15-inch alloy wheels, all of which are welcome additions to the car.
Just like an actual Mirage, it gives off an illusion to some people that it is smaller than it actually is, but in reality it is one of the larger hatchbacks in the subcompact segment and actually rivals the likes of the Toyota Yaris in terms of elbow and leg room.
Although its exterior design is as basic as a car can get, but all things considered, it gets some modern day niceties such as the push button engine start/stop system, a GPS navigation-enabled touch screen infotainment system and a fully automatic climate control system. The steering wheel doesn’t look nor feel cheap, certainly it doesn't look like the kind that you’d expect in a car that’s within the Mirage’s price range.
User comfort starts from its keyless operation system via the transponder key fob that allows you to get in and out of the car and start the engine without the need to take the keyfob out of your pocket or bag; a feature normally seen on higher end cars. The GLS variant also has the convenience of central door-locking system, power functions for all windows and power side mirrors which were absent on the GLX models. For its entertainment system, an auxiliary/USB cable can be conveniently rerouted to a recessed portion between the dashboard and the glove compartment.
Mitsubishi certainly didn't scrimp on safety either, as the Mirage GLS has dual SRS airbags, ABS and EBD as opposed to other subcompacts that make do with less. One more notable thing is the Mirage's Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) body that makes use of several energy-dispersing materials that enhances collision safety. With that, it was able to get a total score of 34.07 out of 37 from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) which translates to the highest rating of 5 out of 5, albeit that was an Aussie-spec Mirage that had curtain airbags, side airbags, stability control and emergency brake assist.
Storage space will not be a big of a problem even for a small family as the 235-liter cargo space was more than enough for several luggages. I was even able to fit my bicycle inside which only took the space of the rightmost portion of the cargo compartment by folding down the rightmost rear passenger seat.
Sitting in the Mirage, it's apparent that while the driver and passenger may get adequate cushioning and lumbar support, the same can't be said for the rear seats given their flat nature. Also of note is the absence of ceiling mounted clips or grab handles to secure your coat hangers on, which makes the virtually flat surfaces of the rear seats the only spot to rest your coat or dress on.
The Mirage GLS (like the GLX) is powered by a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder MIVEC engine that gives off a mild yet somewhat smooth sound, and has clearly been refined to reduce vibration felt in the cabin. This tiny engine on a 825kg body(curb weight) packs enough power and can effortlessly take you up steep parking lot ramps even with five people on board. Around town, the Mirage is a very nimble car as expected, and has excellent visibility with the low belt line.
However, as a tradeoff for a more comfortable and cushioned ride, the fairly soft suspension made body roll quite apparent when maneuvering through corners at higher speeds. Nonetheless, it never took the fun out of driving the Mirage around the urban jungle and even returned a relatively generous fuel consumption of 9 kilometers to a liter during moderate traffic and even improves up to 11 kilometers to a liter during light traffic.
On the highway, with a companion and some equipment loaded in the cargo compartment, I managed to achieve as much as 21 kilometers per liter by maintaining a decent speed of 80km/h, though it goes down to the range of 18-19 kilometers per liter when pushed to the 100 km/h mark. Although the Mirage’s ride is stable enough and can still get past the 120km/h mark with ease (the owner’s manual even stated 170km/h as its top speed), the road and wind noise seeping inside the car will get you to think twice about doing it.
Small is the new big, and with that in mind, I'm pretty confident that the Mirage will fit right in with the busy streets of the metro, tackling everyday traffic and parking with relative ease.
Maybe even with a little fun.