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Mitsubishi 1.2 Mirage 3

Click to view picture galleryMitsubishis Mirage is no illusion.
  And with prices for their new five-
  door small hatchback ranging from
  just 8,999 to 12,999, sales should
  be buoyant
as shown by one of
  the brand
s 118 dealers selling 23
  of them in a single weekend

UNLIKE THE EUROPEAN-BUILT COLT hatchback range it replaces, the Mirage is built in Thailand for global sales, particularly those in emerging countries in Asia. From the outset, the five-door Mirage was designed to be lightweight, aerodynamic, and fuel- and CO2-efficient with emissions of no more than 100g/km.

There are two three-cylinder normally aspirated petrol engine options: a 70bhp 1.0-litre unit emitting 96g/km of CO2; and a 79bhp 1.2-litre unit with Auto Stop & Go emitting 100g/km (or 95g/km with the optional CVT auto transmission). Fuel economy ranges from 68.9mpg down to 65.7mpg.

All versions are exempt from VED road tax and also the London Congestion Charge. And new Benefit-in-Kind taxation bands in force from April mean company car drivers will only pay 10 to 11%, depending on the model.

“The 1.2-litre performed
reasonably well
and the five-speed
manual ’box
was slick and light
to use.
Relatively high-
revving, it has a gruff-
sounding three-pot
engine note with
real-world fuel economy
of 47.6mpg
Top speed for the 1.0-litre Mirage is 107mph (112mph for the larger engine). Mitsubishi says this makes it faster than its competitors which include the VW Up, Suzuki Splash, Toyota Aygo/Yaris, Kia Picanto, Hyundai i20, Honda Jazz, Nissan Micra, Mazda2 and Chevrolet Spark.

It's expected that 95% of UK buyers will go for the 1.2-litre engine, with around 25% specifying the CVT auto transmission. There are three levels of specification: Mirage, Mirage 2 and Mirage 3, with the top level being the most popular.

So the best-selling version will be the Mirage 3 1.2 manual priced at 11,999 — or, if you buy before the end of June 2013, 10,999. A three-year service plan adds 350 and all Mirage models come with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty.

Although the 3.71-metre Mirage is marginally shorter than the Colt Hatchback it replaces, it provides more interior space and better legroom plus a larger boot: 235 litres with the rear seats in place; 600 litres with the rear seats folded. In reality it offers the very competitive pricing of an A-class city car but with the size of a B-class supermini. Price and low running costs are its main strengths.

Neither is the specification basic. In fact it's impressive. The lowest level version has 14-inch steel wheels, front electric windows, a tyre repair kit, radio/CD player and, commendably, stability and traction control.

Mirage 2 additions include manual AirCon, remote central locking, roof spoiler, rear electric windows, auto lights and wipers, power door mirrors and a rear parcel shelf. Mirage 3 models additionally have 15-inch alloy wheels (14-inchers for the CVT auto version), leather steering wheel and gear knob, keyless entry with push-button start, auto AirCon and front and rear parking sensors.

The styling is acceptable given it is not specifically designed for Europe but it does come with a range of funky body colours. Inside it seems well put together and perhaps the quality is better than expected given its low price.

Ride quality is on the harsh side because of our poor road surfaces and its handling is not as sharp or controlled as the best European models, but again most customers will consider the price, specification and interior space more important than the driving dynamics.

“No mirage here — just a supermini-sized car for a city car price...”
On my short test drive around the country roads of Bedfordshire and the business areas of Milton Keynes, the 1.2-litre performed reasonably well; relatively high-revving, it has a gruff-sounding three-cylinder engine note. And the five-speed manual gearbox was slick and light to use. The real-world fuel economy was 47.6mpg; good but not close to the headline-grabbing official 65.7mpg.

Due to the poor road surfaces, noise intrusion from the tyres was quite noticeable although it didn't stop conversation with my co-driver. The car felt quite agile and the steering sharp although there was a lack of front-end grip on the damp roads during fast cornering — but then again it's not a sporty car!

While it does not trouble the best European brands in this sector for handling and ride comfort refinement, there are plenty of reasons to buy including low running costs, interior space, high specification, good residual values, and — always a good sign — healthy advance customer orders.

The price for the spec and space you get from this new Mirage is really good value and that's what today's real-life customers want; already the strong sales demand for the new Mirage speaks for itself. So, no mirage here; just a supermini-sized car for a city car price. — David Miles

Mitsubishi 1.2 Mirage 3 | 11,999
Maximum speed: 112mph | 0-62mph: 11.7 seconds | Overall test MPG: 47.6mpg
Power: 79bhp | Torque: 78lb ft | CO2 100g/km