It may return excellent fuel economy and be a snap to park in the city, but that's all the upside there is to the 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage G4. It's underpowered and noisy, with a cheap-looking interior and upper trims priced dangerously close to larger competitors that are superior in every way.

Best Value

The 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 sedan (the hatchback is marketed separately) starts at $15,290 (including the $895 destination charge) for a five-speed manual ES and rises to $17,990 for an SE equipped with a CVT automatic. Compared to the hatchback, that represents a $1,000 premium for the "luxury" of a separate trunk.

Although the Mirage's raison d'être is price, most buyers will shun the manual, which means an additional $1,200 for a CVT-equipped ES (the SE is only available with the CVT). Other than steel wheels, the base equipment list is fairly complete with power windows and locks, air conditioning, keyless entry, a rear view camera, and even a standard seven-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio capability.

The sole option (and one we strongly recommend) is the $800 Smartphone Display Package. Bizarrely, it downgrades the touchscreen to just 6.5 inches diagonally, but adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as cruise control, 15-inch alloy wheels instead of steelies, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. While the Mirage rarely feels like a bargain, this package is the exception.

Here's how we'd have it:

  • Model: Mitsubishi Mirage G4 ES
  • Engine: 1.2-liter three-cylinder
  • Output: 78 hp / 74 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • MPG: 35 City / 41 Hwy
  • Options: Smartphone Display Package ($800, 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, cruise control, 15-inch wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel)
  • Base Price:$16,490 (including an $895 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price:$17,290

Performance

Mitsubishi Mirage G4

The CVT automatic steps off more quickly than the five-speed manual and returns higher fuel economy numbers – an EPA-estimated 35 miles per gallon in the city, 41 on the highway, and 37 combined. At the same time, a tight 30.2-foot turning circle is ideal for grabbing those elusive urban parking spots. But the good news ends there.

The 1.2-liter three-pot under the hood is unrefined and cacophonous when prodded – but offers little in the way of adequate acceleration. Even with a mere 2,000 pounds to pull, hills are a struggle, while a executing freeway passes requires a week's worth of planning.

Adding insult to injury is a suspension that - even around town - is barely up to the task of keeping the chassis planted. It rolls like a dinghy in a storm Press it above fifty miles per hour and things really get interesting as the Mirage has a tendency to wander off center rather than maintain a straight line – veering, lurching, and wallowing – and upholding a reputation as among the very worst handling cars on the market.

Style

Other than an awkwardly high trunk and tiny wheels set deep in large wheel wells, the Mirage G4's exterior is largely inoffensive and envelops a surprisingly large cabin considering its small footprint. There's enough room for four adults, the simple instrument cluster consists of two gauges, and the radio and ventilation knobs are large and straightforward. Cargo volume isn't as copious as the hatchback, but it's still a usable 12.3 cu ft, with a pass-through to the cabin via flip-and-fold rear seatbacks.

But the downsides are many. The front seat cushions are too short, the steering wheel lacks a tilt function and, even at this price point, there's no excuse for the skimpy rear seat covered in cheap-looking thin material. The rest of the interior flaunts cheap, hard, bargain basement plastic trim, the driver's seat lacks an armrest, and there's no bin between the front seats. The thumps and crashes over irregular pavement echo throughout the cabin, and are joined by the screaming of the overworked engine at anything close to highway speeds.

The Best and Worst Things

The Mirage G4's excellent fuel economy and small footprint make it attractive for urban jaunts.

Like the hatchback, the worst thing about the Mirage G4 is pretty much everything else. It's so poor in every other metric that it's difficult to pinpoint which one – or ones – might be the worst.

Right For? Wrong For?

Mitsubishi Mirage G4

An attractive base price and outstanding fuel economy should appeal to value-oriented urban dwellers that plan on sticking close to home.

Everyone else. The Mirage is amongst the most disappointing new vehicles on sale today. Customers can walk in to literally any other mainstream automaker's showroom and find a better value, either in this class or in the one above it. You should consider a used car before taking delivery of a Mirage.

The Bottom Line

While it succeeds with excellent fuel economy, skillful urban dexterity, and surprising cabin space, the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 flounders when compared to rivals – such as the Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Spark, and Toyota Yaris – that cost not much more, and are, in all other facets, far superior vehicles.