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Mitsubishi Mirage Juro 1.2 CVT

Click to view picture gallery“The ice-caps are shrinking,
  our road space is shrinking,
  parking spaces are shrinking...
  but our cars keep getting bigger!
  The question is: Can you really
  get a ‘big
small car?”


ACTUALLY, YES, YOU CAN. And we've just spent a week driving one. It comes from a brand best known for its big, tough, go-anywhere motors — Mitsubishi. But its recently and comprehensively made-over Mirage supermini is one of those hard-to-find 'big' small cars.

It's a supermini, of course, and answers to the name 'Juro'. It's a snappy dresser, too, with well-considered upscale chrome external 'jewellery', a wide grille beneath its power-bulged bonnet, C-shaped LED combination rear lamps topped by an elongated roof spoiler and roof antenna, and a set of standout, machine-faced alloy wheels.

Resplendent in gleaming Polar White, our test car had undeniable kerb appeal. And the appeal grows when you look at the price £12,499. Plus there's more to like when you run your eye down the kit-list.

The well-padded seats
are upholstered in a
tactile 3D-feel fabric and
the heated seats warm
you really quickly —
even when you’re
wearing a coat!
Better still the seats offer
good support,
particularly on long trips
(our longest was three
hours and we climbed
out feeling as fresh
as when we’d set off)...”
Before that, what do you get in terms of doors, seats, luggage space and economy? Truth to tell; a lot for your money. For starters, the Mirage Juro is a five-door hatch with 4/5 seats, 175 to 910 litres of boot space, and officially returns 65.7mpg in the Combined Cycle.

Getting behind the Mirage's wheel is no problem thanks to big doors and keyless entry and locking. Once there you can appreciate the roomy interior and smart cabin ambiance that makes good use of neat chrome filleting and high-gloss piano black (inner rim and boss edging on the grippy, leather-wrapped, sports-style multifunction wheel, armrests, selector gate surround and centre stack, and even on the rear door armrests) to create an elegant accent to the interior.

The well-padded seats are upholstered in a tactile, 3D-feel fabric and the heated seats warm you really quickly even when you're wearing a coat! Better still, the seats offer good support, particularly on long trips (our longest was three hours, and we climbed out feeling as fresh as when we'd set off).

There's a comfy rest for your left foot during 'cruising' trips, full length armrests on the doors, decent headroom and although the wheel only adjusts for rake/height and not reach the seat is height-adjustable and the spot-on driving position offers good visibility in every direction.

Adding to all that, and in spite of the black themed décor, the cabin has any airy feel. It's also very easy to feel at ease courtesy of a traditional pull-up handbrake, keyless engine start button on the fascia, deep glare-blocking sun visors, the logical design of the centre stack, and crisp and clear central speedometer (with inset trip meter) plus a smaller rev-counter to its left, both with foolproof white-on-black markings.

Adding to the convenience of four side doors is plenty of personal storage with ample trays and cupholders dotted about, and good-sized bottle-holding door bins. And you're not left wanting when it comes to connectivity; there's compatibility with a wide range of multimedia systems, for instance, USB, Bluetooth, and iPod. Plus there are remote buttons on the wheel to control the media, phone and cruise/speed limiter.

Like the front, the rear cabin is an equally good place to travel in; getting in and out is no hassle and two (or even three) sit about six inches higher than those up front which is good for taking in the views through the back windows.

You’re unlikely to be
carting around American-
style double fridge-
freezers in the Mirage —
but then that’s not why
you’d buy one in
the first place. However,
so far as fitness for
purpose goes, its 175-
litre boot is perfectly
adequate, especially
given that there’s seating
for 4/5 in a bodyshell
measuring just
3.795 metres from
nose to tail...”
Headroom is fine for those under six-feet tall and the headrests are nicely padded. The outer rear armrests are good to use, you'll find plenty of foot room and good legroom plus the backrests offer good lower back support two adults can travel a long way without fidgeting in the back of the Mirage. Which is definitely more of a 'big' rather than 'small' car marker.

You're unlikely to be carting around American-style double fridge-freezers in the Mirage but then that's not why you'd buy one in the first place. However, so far as fitness for purpose goes, its 175-litre boot is perfectly adequate, especially given that there's seating for 4/5 in a bodyshell measuring just 3.795 metres from nose to tail.

Besides, you're not restricted to just 175 litres because the 60:40-split seatbacks can be tumbled forward and folded down almost flat, providing a loadbay of 910 litres. Additionally, below the boot floor is a deep, four-section cargo box offering even more stowage space it can be removed if you need a deeper boot. Beneath that is yet another level housing tools and a tyre repair kit.

Buyers get one engine choice but it's a perfectly good one: a feisty, three-cylinder petrol-drinker that puts out 79bhp and 78lb ft of torque.

This comes mated to a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT automatic that, if your Mirage is destined for a life in the city, will definitely take the slog out of driving in heavy traffic. The three-pot has a perky character and it''s more than happy to 'sing' for its supper work it hard and at higher revs you'll hear its likeably raspy, three-pot 'thrum'; ask and it will sprint to the benchmark 62mph in 12.8 seconds, and run on up to 107mph.

Kit is something else that you can rate as 'big car' rather than 'small car' you get automatic AirCon with a pollen filter, keyless entry, heated front seats, cruise control, rear parking sensors, DAB hi-fi with USB, Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, CD player, powerfold electric door mirrors with integral indicators that fold automatically on locking and leaving, front and rear electric windows (the driver gets one-shot op), multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel, privacy glass from the B-pillars back, auto lights and wipes, roof spoiler, and a set of 15-inch alloy wheels. For an extra £1,000 full leather seats can be specified.

If you thought that only big cars can be safe, think again. The Mirage comes with a steel safety cell around the passenger space. Other safety kit includes driver's and passenger's front, side and curtain airbags, active stability and traction control, an emergency stop signal system, Hill Start Assist, tyre pressure monitoring, daytime running lights, and height-adjustable front seatbelts.

The perky three-pot
responds eagerly to the
right foot, helped by
the equally willing CVT:
palm the shapely,
leather-skinned selector
knob and snick the lever
to its D3 slot and you’ll
enjoy a ‘sporty’ drive;
it’s also good for engine
braking when needed.
Alternately there’s L
(for Low) for climbing
particularly steep hills
and for stronger engine
braking when coming
back down...”
The Mirage also comes with strong 'green' credentials: an automatic Stop & Go system is fitted to eke out the best mpg, especially in heavy traffic, and CO2 emissions are a low 99k/km so you won't need to pay the London Congestion Charge or be asked by the DVLA for any road tax. Nice, but they must really hate that!

There's also regenerative braking, low-friction tyres, and a wind-cheating bodyshape (actually, the Mirage is the most aerodynamic is its class). Officially the 1.2-litre CVT auto returns 65.7mpg in the Combined Cycle and during our hard-week's test we came pretty close, averaging an impressive 60.3mpg.

The Mirage's underpinnings have been tweaked for improved handling; added to which the electric-powered rack-and-pinion steering has been sharpened up and you can now punt it about with surprising gusto with bodyweight kept to the minimum using high-tensile steel, its 79bhp goes a long way.

The perky three-pot responds eagerly to the right foot, helped by the equally willing CVT: palm the shapely, leather-skinned selector knob and snick the lever to its D3 slot and you'll enjoy a 'sporty' drive; it's also good for engine braking when needed. Alternately there's L (for Low) for climbing particularly steep hills and for more intense engine braking when coming back down.

Surprisingly, it also manages to be comfortable many small cars can be 'choppy' due to their short wheelbases but the Mirage's reworked suspension is 'soft' enough to mop up the second-rate blacktop that's more and more the norm across the UK.

There's a lot of 'big' in this 'small' car from Mitsubishi and with its satisfying mix of clean-cut good looks, pleasurable-to-drive character, high spec, and budget-boosting economy, it's hard to think of any reason not to be mesmerised by this Mirage ~ MotorBar

Mitsubishi Mirage Juro 1.2 CVT
| £12,499
Maximum speed: 107mph | 0-62mph: 12.8 seconds | Test Average: 60.3mpg
Power: 79bhp | Torque: 78lb ft | CO2: 99g/km