Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven
The subcompact or small car segment will always hold my interest not only because it’s one of the most hotly contested segments in the country, but also because it’s a good indicator of how a car manufacturer views what’s important to their target market. Unlike cars in the compact category and beyond, where manufacturers can be liberal with features, certain compromises are unavoidable in the small car segment. These cars are often found in the P600,000 – P700,000 range and rarely hit the P900,000 mark, forcing brands to be very selective about how they attract their core customers. Figuring out the right balance to offer the ultimate value-for-money proposition is no simple task, but it’s something Mitsubishi does very well with the Mirage GLS.
If you look at some of the segment’s participants, you wouldn’t expect much in terms of head-turning looks, but the Mitsubishi Mirage pulls off a decent design package in a subtle way that certainly won’t automatically draw looks of disdain. The contrasting chrome accents on the grille and front bumper do a lot in providing the Mirage with a more upscale feel. Its 185/55/R15 wheels fit nicely in the wheel wells showing no unsightly or uneven gaps. The rear spoiler is a sporty detail that Mitsubishi could have cost-cut, but thankfully decided not to. Foglamps? Check.
Of course, the telltale signs of more affordable cars are still there. Close the door and you’ll hear a bit of a clank instead of a satisfying thump. A gentle knock on the pillars reveals the hollow sound of thin sheet metal. Nevertheless, the Mirage is a looker in its class, and that makes up for quite a bit.
As impressive as the Mirage’s exterior styling goes, the interior of the Mirage is one of its finest points. Supportive six-way adjustable seats, a surprisingly roomy second row, and high-quality materials are all present, giving you an idea on where Mitsubishi decided to spend most of the budget on. The instrument cluster is highly legible and easy on the eyes, complemented by a monochrome digital screen that relays important information such as fuel level, your current drive mode, trip meter, and average fuel economy. The infotainment system is highly competent, with DVD/MP3/USB/iPod/AUX/SD Card and Bluetooth connectivity, controlled by a 5.6-inchtouchscreen LCD monitor.
The Mirage’s interior also features full climate control air-conditioning, GPS navigation and individual headrests for all occupants.Since it’s a hatch, the Mirage’s rear seats can be folded in a 60/40 split to open up more cargo space. Overall the Mirage’s interior will leave its driver and passengers with a satisfying, comfortable experience.
Powered by a relatively small 1.2 liter, three-cylinder DOHC engine that outputs 78-hp and 100-Nm of torque, the Mirage isn’t going to reward its driver with an exciting drive. In fact, everything about the Mirage’s powertrain seems to indicate that it was born and bred for inter-city commutes and school runs. The engine is responsive at low revs, getting up to 60 km/h relatively quickly, which makes zipping around the tight city streets extremely satisfying. Once you hit the highway though, the Mirage makes its limits known fairly quickly. It’s adept at cruising at 100 km/h, but try to push it beyond that and you’ll be greeted by the sound of rattles and a straining engine which increases exponentially with every number passed on the speed gauge.
The steering is light, but was clearly not meant to be pushed on tight corners, as the Mirage will happily understeer to oblivion. Its sharp turning radius of 4.8 meters once again shows that the city is where the Mirage shines. Fuel economy is a strong suit, as the Mirage returned around 10 km/l on mixed city and highway conditions even with higher-than-normal traffic.
Given that the Mirage GLS was tailored to be a budget-friendly car, it’s surprisingly well-equipped. It comes with automatic HID headlights and LED taillights, a reverse camera, dual SRS airbags, ABS brakes with EBD, and brake assist. It seems Mitsubishi had their priorities straight when developing the Mirage. It’s not posing to be a sporty racer, or a grand tourer.
Priced at P743,000, with the right amount of bells and whistles, good safety features, and a well-appointed interior, the Mirage is a true city slicker, designed to function as a practical, comfortable, thrifty car for daily commutes and errands, and becomes an easy recommendation for people with exactly that in mind.