Mitsubishi Mirage review

Our Rating: 
2013 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The new Mitsubishi Mirage is efficient and well-equipped, but suffers from flawed handling and low rent interior

Low running costs, decent space inside, lots of equipment
Cheap interior, lacks refinement, flawed handling

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The Mitsubishi Mirage is an efficient supermini that 's designed to rival value-for-money city cars and superminis such as the Dacia Sandero, Kia Rio and Fiat Panda. It comes well-equipped and is available with a choice of 1.0-litre or 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, both of which emit less than 100g/km of CO2. However, the Mirage isn't without flaws. The vague steering and poor handling place it at the bottom of the class for driving dynamics, while the interior looks and feels cheap. It's also quite expensive to buy and lacks the refinement and practicality of the best cars in the class.

Our choice: Mirage 1.2-litre '2'

Engines, performance and drive


With its lightweight construction and comapct dimensions, the Mitsubishi Mirage should deliver eager performance and nimble handling. However, both the 70bhp 1.0-litre and 79bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder engines feel strained and breathless when extended, plus they suffer from an uneven power delivery - the Skoda Citigo and Suzuki Swift are smoother and perkier. Yet it's the Mirage's lacklustre handling that is the biggest cause for concern. The steering is lifeless and slow to respond, there's lots of body roll and very little grip, meaning the Mirage lurches disconcertingly from corner to corner. It also trails its class rivals for refinement, with road and wind noise becoming intrusive on the motorway. Around town the Mirage crashes into potholes and thumps over expansion joints, and the ride only settles down on the open road.

MPG, CO2 and running costs


On paper, the new three-cylinder engine design helps make the Mitsubishi Mirage one of the most economical cars in its class. When combined with the 845kg kerbweight, aerodynamic design and standard stop-start system, the 1.0-litre unit promises to return 70.6mpg and 92g/km of CO2. Even the larger 1.2-litre unit manages 68.9mpg when fitted with either the standard five-speed manual or optionl CVT automatic, plus both versions dip below 100g/km CO2 tax threshold. You can also purchase a decent value pre-paid servicing pack, which takes care of maintenance for three years and 36,000 miles. It's not all good news, though, as the Mitusbishi Mirage isn't exactly cheap to buy. Not only is it undercut by the Dacia Sandero, it's also more expensive than the much classier and more composed Skoda Citigo.

Interior, design and technology


The Mitsubishi Mirage replaces the Colt in the Mitsubishi line-up, and dispenses with the old car's upright design in favour of something more rounded. Yet while the slippery shape delivers a class-leading drag coefficient of 0.27Cd, it lacks the stylish and modern looks of the Kia Picanto. All versions get colour coded bumpers and door handles and a sporty tailgate spoiler, while the range-topping '3' adds 14-inch alloy wheels and front fog lamps. The generous specification continues inside, where you'll find electric windows, a USB connection and a simple trip computer. Go for the '3' and you'll benefit from big car features such as climate control and keyless entry. Sadly, none of this desirable kit can disguise the extremely cheap feeling materials and uninspiring design. It's solidly screwed together at least, although it comes nowhere near rivalling the VW up! for upmarket appeal.

Practicality, comfort and boot space


The Mitsubishi Mirage has 235 litres of boot space, which is a big improvement on the Colt's 160 litres. Yet it's a lot less than the VW up!'s 251-litre capacity and only 10-litres more than the Hyundai i10. And although this figure grows to 600 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded, the Mirage still can’t match the five-door up!’s 959 litres. The Mitsubishi is also hobbled by a high loading lip, which makes it tricky to lift heavy items in and out. Unlike the Skoda Citigo or SEAT Mii, the Mirage is a five-seater. However, occupants in the back get no more head and legroom than other city car rivals, while the flat rear bench is a little uncomfortable. Still, there's a decent amount of storage in the cabin, with a number of useful cubbies and cupholders.

Reliability and Safety


Mitsubishi has an excellent reputation for reliability, so the Mirage should prove dependable and sturdy. However, it's worth noting that Mitsubishi finished in a disappointing 19th place in our 2012 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey. And while all versions are backed by a three-year unlimited mileage warranty, you get more peace of mind from the lengthy guarantees offered by Hyundai and Kia. The Mirage scored just four stars overall in the 2013 Euro NCAP crash test, however all versions get a stabiity control system, six airbags and a pair of ISOFIX mountings for the rear seat.

Disqus - noscript

They've definitely taken 'inspiration' from the Mazda 2, inside and out.

In all honesty, when I first saw the pictures, I assumed it would be a cheap, tinny, slow and relatively inefficient.

How Mitsubishi have surprised me. While it looks bland, it also looks like a normal car you could be seen in, where a Volkswagen Up! would be the butt of jokes, not least for its daft name boldly plastered on the hatch.

Just goes to prove how much more efficient the Up could be considering the cash pile, expertise and potential for huge economies of scale VW has. The Aygo matched CO2 and economy back in 2005, while quite a small player have managed to beat those figures with the Mirage's bigger, 20hp more powerful engine.

Must try harder VW.

Agree with your comments. A E's review of the Mirage is a pleasant surprise. For the estimated £7995 starting price I didnt think it would offer much, but it sounds like a better prospect than I thought it would. It might not be the sharpest looking small car on the market, but its still neat enough. It was also designed to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible. So function over form you could say.
I actually think Mitsubishi are being quite clever not pitching it as a rival for the class leading VW Up! Think they intend it to be a budget supermini.
Thing is though, for the same sort of money as the Up! the Mirage is a larger car yet has more impressive economy figures and will likely be better value. Impressive engineering is no surprise from Mitsubishi though - the company that brought us the EVO and even designs and makes planes. I think the Mirage could be the thinking persons cheap small car.
As for the Up! I personally think its over rated. I also dont think its very original, unlike the Toyota/PSA trio which were arguably ahead of their time when launched in 2005. The Up! seems like a modern copy of said trio, right down to some of the details. Wil be interesting to see the Mk2 versions Toyota/PSA produce in 2014.

96 COLT OWNER.Sorry guys but you are way off the mark with this one...dull..dreary,,and only suitable for the over 60's.should have kept the old model and went down the evo route, plenty of clubs out there have...and they are in big demand

this looks like something from the 90's. Never would i have imagined a car maker bringing out a new car which actually looked older than it's predecessor.

I got one of these as a hire car
a couple of months ago - a Mirage 3 in white.

I admit, I generally like cars
that handle well. We own both a Fiesta and a Mazda2 which I regard as the best handlers
in the class (as the reviews would back up). I admit I therefore found the
handling of this car to be far removed from what I was use to - basically I
agree with the review in this regard.

HOWEVER, overall, I found the car
a big surprise! For a start, it was by far the most economical petrol engine
car I've ever drove. I got 61mpg from it (56mpg is the previous best I got from
a 1.0 VVTi Yaris, which as slower than this). I also like the very high levels
of standard equipment. About the only thing missing was sat nav (which is
optional anyway).

Very easy car to drive as well with a light gear change, well laid out
dashboard, and very maneuverable at town speeds. I’ve also read elsewhere it
has one of the smallest turning circles in the class. I also, personally,
thought the styling, provided you buy it in Mirage 3 form, looked pretty
decent. I agree with CarGeek in that it looks much better than the boxy styled
VW Up!

Basically, I liked it. But could
definitely do with a suspension tweak to do something about the handling.

P.S. out of interest I did an
insurance quote on it - £201 (fully comp, parked on the street, two people, 10k
miles/annum). No new car would beat that surely.

Last updated: 25 Apr, 2013