If you take a look at the offerings in the market, there's one model that is in serious need of a refresh: the Mitsubishi Mirage 5-door hatchback. Okay so the L300 also qualifies, but given the target market that desires just a reliable and no-frills business vehicle, we can overlook that.
Make no mistake about it, the Mirage hatchback is very long in the tooth for a passenger car. It has been on the market for 10 years now without a new generation announced yet, so the only real option is for some updates and facelifts.
In 2019 Mitsubishi released a facelift of the Mirage hatchback in Thailand, but it wasn't launched in 2019, 2020, or in 2021. The Mirage G4 facelift was revealed at the same time, and they did launch it nearly 2 years later in August 2021 in the Philippine market.
Now we may have some news: Mitsubishi Motors Philippines has received government approval for what could be the Mirage hatchback facelift. We've received word that Mitsubishi has been granted the certification for a vehicle with a 1.2-liter engine and weighing just a smidge over 1000 kilograms.
To be specific, the engine displacement is 1193cc meaning it's the 3A92 engine 3-cylinder. Only the Mirage and Mirage G4 use that engine in the local lineup. Since the G4 is already in the market, we see no reason why MMPC would seek the certification of that, unless it's a totally new variant with major differences in the driveline. We don't see that happening anytime soon, so it's very likely the hatchback version.
Mechanically, there are no major changes with the Mirage hatchback. Maybe they made some minor changes to the components for reliability and refinement, but by and large, it's the same under the skin. It's really the outside and inside that changed.
Mitsubishi applied their signature face to the Mirage; a compact interpretation of the dynamic shield you'd find in the Xpander and Strada. The examples we've seen so far have a red accent on the grille. The interior also got some updates, but mostly minor adjustments like new trims and new upholstery.
If the model that Mitsubishi got approval for is indeed the Mirage hatchback, that means we could see it being launched for local sale sometime in the next 2 or 3 months. Our guess is that they'll launch it at the Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) in September.
If you're wondering why it took so long for Mitsubishi to launch the G4 and hatchback after the Thai debut in November 2019, we can point to several factors. Since this will likely be a locally assembled model like the G4, then that's the major factor; it takes more time to adjust local production for any new model. There were also complex factors like the pandemic, parts shortages, and the like.
The real challenge for Mitsubishi is that they are launching a dated model into a market with a lot of very attractive and more modern offerings for the same kind of money. Will this hatchback have the same appeal in our market given the way it has moved forward now? If they equip it with the right features, focus on the jobs the Mirage generates, and price it right, then it should have a good chance.