2019 Mitsubishi Mirage Reviewed

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

What stands out?

The Mirage is all about getting your motoring dollar further while being easy to drive and park. The baby Mitsubishi is bigger inside than it looks, performance is plenty for driving around town, and the tiny engine does not need much fuel.


What might bug me?

How noisy the engine is, and at highway speeds how much tyre roar intrudes into the cabin.

Not seeing low hidden obstacles when parking because the Mirage is one of the few cars without a reversing camera.

In manual models, the big gap between first gear and second. A low first gear makes it easy to get going from rest, but in slow traffic you wish you could hold it for longer.


What body styles are there?

Five-door hatchback only.

(The Mirage was also sold in sedan form, and the sedan was a significantly bigger car than the hatchback. Mitsubishi ceased to sell the sedan about December 2016.)

The Mirage drives its front wheels, and is classed as a micro car.


What features does every Mirage have?

Air-conditioning, central locking, power windows front and rear (with auto up and down on the driver’s window), and power-adjustable mirrors.

You also get an audio system with a CD slot, MP3 and USB compatibility, and even Bluetooth and voice control. All Mirages also get controls for those functions on the steering wheel.

There is height adjustment for the steering wheel and the driver’s seat.

Hill-start assist helps you take off from rest on an uphill slope, by controlling the brakes automatically.

A Mirage has six air-bags, and electronic stability control – which can help you avoid a skid. (For the placement of airbags, please open the Safety section below.)

All Mirages have a space-saver spare tyre.

The Mirage carries a five-year, 100,000km warranty.


Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn’t I choose it?

Mitsubishi has made this an easy one to answer: there’s only one engine fitted to the Mirage hatch and sedan.

It’s a small – 1.2 litre – three-cylinder engine which keeps costs and fuel consumption to a minimum. The official fuel consumption figure is 4.6 litres/100km, which makes the engine a sipper in anybody’s language.

You can expect to use significantly more than that in the real world, however, and especially in conditions that demand a lot from the engine – such as high speeds and hills.

On the Mirage LS, the CVT transmission is standard.

The LS also brings you cruise control, 15-inch wheels in an aluminium alloy (which don’t need plastic trim to look nice), and climate control air-conditioning – which maintains a set temperature. The LS has four speakers, foglights, and a roof-spoiler for a little extra look-at-me.

You can also get a range of dealer-fit accessories for any Mirage, among them alloy wheels and front and rear parking sensors.


How comfortable is the Mitsubishi Mirage?

Let’s just say you won’t be nodding off to sleep on the run to work in a Mirage. It’s pretty noisy, despite changes over the model life that diminished the levels of noise and vibration through the cabin.

The engine has a real throb to it at idle and when it’s working hardest. It is tuneful – and you might even find its note engaging, concluding that it endows your baby car with some character. But you never forget it is working away under the bonnet.

The seats are not the hip-hugging jobs fitted to some of the competition and can feel very flat after just a short time behind the wheel on a run in the country. They are easy to get in and out of, though, and are fine for suburban commutes.

Interior plastics are relatively hard and unfriendly. That extends to the glossy black trim on the driver and passenger armrests, which nevertheless adds some visual flair.

All the controls feel light and won’t tire you in stop-start running, and the large central speedo makes it easy to avoid speeding fines.


What about safety in a Mirage?

Every Mirage has anti-lock brakes and stability control, and six airbags. There are seatbelt reminders on the front seats only.

Two of the airbags are placed directly ahead the front-seat occupants; two more protect those in front from side impacts at chest level; and two curtain airbags protect occupants front and rear from side impacts at head level.

No Mirage has a reversing camera.

Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) – which uses sensors to scan the road ahead, and can apply the brakes automatically to save you from rear-ending a sharply slowing car in front – is not available on a Mirage.

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rated the Mirage at its maximum five stars for safety, in July 2014. It’s lack of active safety features such as AEB means it would unlikely receive a five-star rating if tested today.


I like driving – will I enjoy this car?

Maybe. You will enjoy a Mirage built since about March 2016 more than those built beforehand. Mitsubishi has done some work on the steering, ride and CVT auto, and it shows.

The auto is an excellent match for the engine in suburban driving. Steering feels smooth and quite accurate, and there is enough weight now to bring a sense of how well your front tyres are gripping the road.

The body leans less in turns, also, while still riding quite comfortably. The Mirage is not a sports car but it responds precisely enough to the controls to be fun.

You might hate the gravelly sound the engine makes when you ask it to work but you might also find it endearing. Yes it’s too loud. At times it sounds almost as though you have harnessed a powerful motorbike. Whether that’s tiresome or titillating will depend on your outlook – and possibly, on your mood.

You will have no trouble keeping up with traffic in town and the Mirage holds its own on the freeway, too.

It will cope with an extended trip, but overtaking on country roads requires a fair bit of forward planning.


How is life in the rear seats?

Like most micro cars these days, the Mirage supplies back-seat passengers with their own doors – which makes getting in and out much easier than it would be in a three-door vehicle.

Once you’re in, though, you’ll find you don’t have much leg room.

(The discontinued sedan was longer, and gave rear passengers more space.)


How is it for carrying stuff?

The rear seat folds 60:40, but even so the stubby tail of the hatch doesn’t allow for big loads.

Nevertheless the boot space – Mitsubishi quotes 235 litres with the rear seatbacks upright – is only a little less than you would find in micro-alternatives such as the Suzuki Celerio and Kia Picanto, or even in the externally bigger Mazda2 (250 litres).


Where does Mitsubishi make the Mirage?

The Mirage hatchback and sedan are built in Mitsubishi’s Thailand plant.


What might I miss that similar cars have?

The ability to display mapping and other apps from your smartphone on a touchscreen in the car’s dashboard, and control them from there, via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The Kia Picanto, Fiat 500 and the Suzuki Ignis micro-SUV, offer this, for example.

Perhaps a reversing camera, which you can’t get even as an option on the Mirage. The camera is standard on the Picanto and Ignis, for example.

Active safety aids such as autonomous emergency braking, which is standard on the Kia Picanto and the slightly bigger Mazda2, for example.


Are there plans to update the Mirage soon?

This version of the Mirage was released in 2013, and the Sedan didn’t arrive until 2014.

Late in March 2016, both body styles received a styling facelift and minor update. The update brought revised interior trim and seating, tweaks to the CVT auto transmission, better steering, and retuned suspension that improved the ride. Auto-on headlamps and auto windscreen wipers were dropped from the top-spec LS sedan, but unlike its hatch counterpart it offered smart-key entry. Otherwise the sedans were a near match for the equipment on the hatches.

About the end of 2016 Mitsubishi ceased selling the sedans, while the Mirage hatches continued unchanged.

A significantly updated Mirage is due to arrive in about April 2020 with a fresh look, enhanced interior, and 7.0-inch infotainment screen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay and reversing camera.


The final verdict:

If you are looking for an easy to drive and park city-car, you will enjoy the Mirage a lot with it’s CVT auto. That makes the Mirage LS Hatch, with auto as standard, climate-control, cruise control and alloy wheels, look like great value. However, what you would spend for it – at Mitsubishi’s recommended price – brings you close to attractive alternatives.