2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES (1.2L 3-cyl. CVT Automatic)
Driven On 12/17/2013
Mitsubishi has high hopes for its new Mirage, but we can't recommend it. Beyond the dismal instrumented numbers and uncoordinated driving manners, the Mirage simply has few redeeming qualities and lacks refinement compared to rivals like the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio and Mazda 2. In sum, it feels like a cheap little car.
PerformanceCombining a tiny 3-cylinder engine with a Continuously Variable Transmission is a recipe for slow-moving transport. The underdamped suspension causes the car to skitter across mid-corner bumps. The brakes at least work well.
The Mirage only weighs 2,067 pounds, but its engine is just a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder making 74 horsepower mated to a CVT. Zero to 60 mph dragged by in 11.7 seconds. Merging requires extra caution and two-lane passes are difficult.
Around town the brakes have an intuitive jump-in and don't feel spongy. Our panic-stop test was aided by the Mirage's feather curb weight, but 121 feet from 60 mph is respectable, although stability was lacking.
The steering is slow and lacks feel, and we can't remember the last time we felt so many kickbacks through the steering wheel. The skinny, 165-width tires endow the Mirage with more than a little understeer.
The Mirage feels massively underdamped despite weighing so little, and the chassis is easily upset by any kind of mid-corner road imperfections, throwing it off-line. Also incredibly susceptible to crosswinds.
Even the slightest change in throttle causes the CVT to drastically increase rpm level. Uphills are especially tough. There's low-speed lurchiness, too, and the engine is loud during acceleration. Unpleasant.
ComfortThe Mirage's front seats proved surprisingly comfortable, although the door armrests are made of rock-hard plastic. But the ride was unduly harsh and the 3-cylinder/CVT setup makes for lots of high-rev driving.
The seats are cushioned enough for long stints, though they look flimsy and the cloth material feels cheap. The side bolsters basically give way during cornering. No center armrest, and door armrests are plastic.
Of course on smooth roads the Mirage's suspension feels adequate, but even the smallest bumps can be felt and heard. Serious vibration comes into the cabin. The shocks are underdamped, though the comfy seats help.
The 3-cylinder sounds rough even at idle, but to be fair the Chevy Spark is louder at full throttle. Wind noise is fairly well controlled, but this thing is boomy and seems to have a complete lack of sound deadening.
InteriorThe interior controls work well for the most part, and if you're familiar with Mitsubishi products you'll recognize some of the shared parts. There's more space inside than you'd think, and it's easy to get in/out, up front anyway.
About the most basic interior you'll see these days. ES model comes with Bluetooth, but phone pairing was lengthy. Too high driving position. Large buttons on center stack. Push-button starter on left side of dash.
Pretty much perfect step-in height up front plus large doors make things easy. Rear doors, though, are small. The rear seatback is quite upright, and you need to duck your head to avoid the roof.
Excellent headroom up front, surprisingly good door-side elbow room. Classified as a 5-seater, but extremely tight elbow and shoulder room in back. Knee and footroom are pretty good considering size of car.
Narrow pillars, other than the thick rearmost ones. Pretty easy lane-change sightings, though rear side windows do slope dramatically. Small but not horrible rear window. No rearview camera or parking sensors.
Center console cupholders don't hold bottles in place. Handy key fob slot. Minimal bins but good-sized door pockets. 17.2 cu-ft trunk is large for class, but has small opening and painfully deep well. Folding rear seats.
ValueThe Mirage offers pretty good value due to its low price, large amount of standard features and impressive warranty. But the car's build quality leaves much to be desired, and we were expecting better fuel mileage.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Other than the interior controls, the whole car feels cheap, like it's made out of tin. If you tap the roof liner, you hear metal. There's no soft-touch anywhere, and there were some interior rattles over harsh pavement.
The Mirage ES comes standard with Bluetooth, CD player, aux-in jack, power mirrors, cruise control, steering wheel audio controls, fog lights, a rear wiper, alloy wheels and push-button start.
The Mirage ES comes with some features other competitors don't at its $15,990 as-tested price. The problem is its rivals are simply better cars to drive and live with, so its value diminishes in comparison.
Mitsubishi says the Mirage is the most fuel efficient gasoline-powered non-hybrid in the U.S., with an EPA rating of 40 Combined mpg (37 City/44 Highway) with the CVT. But we only averaged 35.9 mpg during our evaluation.
With a 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty and 10 years/100,000 miles for the drivetrain, only the Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent can match the Mirage's coverage.
The Mirage comes with roadside assistance for 5 years, which is similar to many of its rivals. It does not have a free maintenance program. We do have some qualms about the car's longevity.
Fun To DriveThe only way you could think of the Mirage as being fun to drive is because it's so small and light. And with such skinny tires, almost as soon as you bend it into a turn the tires squeal. But mostly, it's just not a nice car to drive.
There's not much life to this car. The weak 3-cylinder engine is loud and never sounds good, the suspension is poorly-developed while the CVT sucks what's left out of the Mirage.
It's got the light and small thing going for it, and it gets decent (though not awesome) fuel mileage. Our test car's bright green color only served to draw more unwanted attention to this slightly odd-looking little car.
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