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Only if you really, really want a two-door subcompact, should you consider the Mirage coupe. And even then, you really shouldn't.
Sharp handling, low entry price, attractive shape.
Horsepower-deficient base engine, minimal amount of features with DE trim, poor crash-test results.
Available Mirage Coupe Models
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Though the Mirage sedan has been discontinued to make room for the all-new Lancer sedan, Mitsubishi will continue to offer the Mirage coupe. Only a few minor changes -- a new audio faceplate, an emergency inside-trunk release and a new chrome badge -- are in store this year.
Say, it really was a mirage. With the arrival of the all-new Mitsubishi Lancer compact sedan, the Mirage sedan has faded away, leaving only the coupe body style for 2002. (And yes, we're grateful that Mitsubishi's keeping the Mirage name, as it allows us to come up with witty introductory paragraphs like this one.)
There are two trim levels available this year: the entry-level DE and the better-equipped LS. The DE comes with a frugal 92-horsepower 1.5-liter engine mated to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration, particularly when the car is equipped with the automatic, could be described as anything from "leisurely" to "I can run faster than this," depending on the situation.
More power is available on the LS. This trim has a larger 1.8-liter 111-horsepower engine. It, too, is available with a manual or an automatic. While both cars possess nimble handling thanks to a four-wheel independent suspension, the LS is the livelier and more stable of the two because of wider tires and a front-mounted antiroll bar.
Either trim level is attractive from the outside, and the interior, while bland, is roomy and tightly constructed. And while it's easy to be tempted by the DE's low price, understand that the car comes with few modern conveniences. Air conditioning, power windows and locks, and a folding rear seat are all optional. Cruise control, a tachometer, power mirrors and map lights can't even be ordered on this budget-minded conveyance.
Again, the LS comes to the rescue. It has an eight-way-adjustable driver seat, a rear window defroster, a CD player and body-colored exterior trim. If you want your Mirage LS with some "sport" thrown in, it can be ordered with an optional Sport package that includes 14-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, chrome tailpipe extension and side ground effects. There's also a power sunroof available.
When the Mirage was last redesigned in 1997, it was a sporty, competent car that was often overlooked by consumers. Now entering its sixth year with no major changes, the competition has clearly left the Mirage behind. The two-door body style does little other than limit versatility, and poor crash-test scores are cause for concern. If you want a Mitsubishi and don't mind four doors, go with the all-new Lancer. Otherwise, the Honda Civic coupe is a vastly superior product.
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