Just barely over a year has passed since Mitsubishi Motors Philippines launched the all new Mirage, a little 5-door hatchback designed to bring back the diamond star to the subcompact segment. It's selling very well, appealing to all sorts of buyers in the market.
There was something missing though. To truly challenge the leaders in terms of market share and volume, MMPC needed to do one thing: release the 4-door sedan version of the Mirage from Thailand. That's really the only way to compete against the class leaders in the vehicle class with the highest volume in the country.
In Thailand, it's called the Attrage for 'Attactive Mirage'. Here, it's known as Mirage G4. Let's see how it performs.
Design-wise, the difference is very noticeable. It's not like they just restamped a rear end onto the Mirage hatch, as the front end has been fully redesigned to convey a somewhat 'upscale' appearance, using a larger grille, larger and more detailed headlamps and a more liberal application of chrome trim. This being the Mirage G4 GLS CVT, it comes standard with foglamps, larger rims and, unusually, Bridgestone Potenza S001 fitted as standard on our test units. Go figure.
The side profile is, of course, altered given the addition of the trunk, though the doors still have the simpler pull-up door handles instead of grab handles. The rear end actually looks quite well thought out and well designed from the start, unlike the trunk of the Fiesta that appears to be more of an addition. If anything, I think the G4 looks better than the hatch.
Inside the Attrage, err, Mirage G4, Mitsu's designers have basically used the same interior panels, albeit with better color combinations (black and cream) to convey a more 'upscale' feel. The dashboard is the same, with the three spoke wheel with a remote for your audio system, while at the center stack is your AVT DVD/Navigation system, a pair of A/C vents and the climate control system; yes, you read that right. Just behind the wheel is the push start switch as this GLS CVT version gets the comfort access smart key fob that you just leave in your pocket; just approach the driver door, press the button on the door panel to unlock, sit inside and push the starter. Easy.
Settling into the driver's seat, it's easy to note that this is one of the more comfortable seats in the B-segment. Visibility around is pretty good; no undue blind spots. The rear seat is actually better than I expected, given that the G4 doesn't have the same rear bench as the hatchback. An added bonus is the presence of the fold down armrest for two rear passengers though three can fit comfortably instead, just so long as they're not plus-sized.
The real surprise is the trunkspace that the Mirage G4 affords; simply put, it's huge. Mitsubishi claims three sets of golf clubs can fit in the trunk and we don't doubt them. Pulling a little prank on two of our colleagues during the Mirage G4 preview a few months ago, we were surprised when both of them were actually able to fit side by side in the trunk. True story.
Starting up the engine, there's the familiar whirr from the 1.2 liter, 3-cylinder MIVEC motor; the same as the one found in the hatchback. The figures aren't particularly stellar, as the Mirage G4's engine makes 78 PS at 6000 rpm and 100 Newton-meters of torque at 4000 rpm. The engine is mated with a continuously variable transmission called INVECS-III; the same type used on larger models like the Lancer and ASX. What's different about the gate type shifter on the Mirage G4 and hatch is the 'B' mode which stands for engine braking; an effective drive mode when going down steep inclines.
In the city, the Mirage G4 performs well, albeit sedately. The suspension settings aren't performance inclined, so it's best to expect handling, body roll and steering feel to not be at the same levels as cars like the Mazda2 or Fiesta. Generally speaking, the G4 is an easy car to drive at city speeds given its light electric power steering. On the highway the Mirage G4 is comfortable and works to suppress the roughness of local roads, but needs a little more attention on things like tire and wind noise.
The engine/transmission combi is made for efficiency, and Mitsubishi claims an attainable fuel consumption (under the EU combined cycle) of 21 km/l. It's a bit high, but after doing 18.9 km/l without any undue eco-driving tactics on the highway (2 passengers), it just might be possible. Given the Christmas season traffic around the metro, the figure drops down to 10.2 km/l; still pretty good all considered.
What was also noticeable about the Mirage G4 is the attention to safety. Of course's there's the usual dual airbags, ELR seatbelts, anti-lock brakes and other things you would normally find in any other car, but Mitsubishi went a little further with a Brake Override System for the CVT, meaning that you shouldn't have any cases of unintended acceleration. Also, the driver's mat is firmly held in place by a set of retainers built in. Simple but useful.
The Mirage G4 may not have the punchiness of a Hyundai Accent CRDI, neither does it have the design of the new Toyota Vios, the performance of the Honda City or the high tech nature of the new Ford Fiesta, as Mitsubishi isn't following any of the competition's strategies. The Mirage G4 is a small car that offers excellent space given the dimensions, a conservative but cohesive design statement, decent power, fuel economy that's well above the standard for it's class, and a package of features comparable to most models positioned in the compact segment.
The Mitsubishi Mirage G4 isn't what we would call a revelation, but at PhP 718,000 for this top-of-the-line GLS CVT, MMPC's reentry into the subcompact sedan segment makes for a very sensible and attractive proposition on the showroom floor.