The last time Mitsubishi Motors offered a car called Mirage in the U.S., it took the form of a competent yet thoroughly average compact sedan that left the market with its tail between its legs in 2003. Now the struggling Japanese brand hopes to regain a foothold on these shores with an all-new 2014 Mirage. This time, we'll see a money-saving "city car" hatchback with high hopes resting on its tiny frame.
Engineered to compete in the low-priced micro-car segment with the successful Chevrolet Spark, the Mirage is nothing if not small: at just 148.8 inches long, it's almost a foot shorter than even the Ford Fiesta. The design is clearly function over form, and while the car is not unattractive, it's missing a certain charm that makes Spark, Fiesta and even the Kia Rio stand out.
There's not a whole lot of power on hand: just 74 horses and 74 lb-ft. torque from a 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine, paired with either a five-speed manual or the CVT. An electric power steering system, modest curb weight and low-load accessories lead to both fuel savings and decent acceleration, though like the Spark, you'll have to work to get this thing up to highway speeds.
But in this segment, what buyers are really looking for is thriftiness. While the EPA has not yet released official ratings, Mitsubishi expects the CVT car to achieve 37 city/44 highway/40 combined mpg, which would outpace the new 1.0-liter EcoBoost Fiesta as the most efficient gasoline-powered (non-hybrid) car on the market.
With seating for five and seven standard airbags, the base Mirage DE will come with power windows and mirrors, automatic climate control, keyless entry, tilt steering, intermittent wipers and even a 140-watt stereo. Step up to the Mirage ES for integrated foglamps, 14-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, keyless entry and start, cruise control and other big-car features.
Add in a base price expected to come in at around $13,000 and there's lots to like if cheap transportation is what you're after. The 2014 Mirage will hit dealerships in late Fall 2013.
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