You can’t call it a value proposition if it costs 18 grand.
– Detroit, Michigan
The Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback starts at $12,995. It’s one of the cheapest new cars you can buy in the U.S. today, it delivers up to 43 miles per gallon highway, and you can have it painted purple. If you purchase cars like I purchase toilet paper, then your very short consideration time and disregard for anything used can certainly lead you to the land of Mirage. I get it. Kind of.
Here’s the problem: The car I have here is $17,830, or about the price of a Honda Fit EX. It’s the new G4 sedan, which means the useful hatchback is swapped out for a frumpy looking trunk (you pay $1,000 more for that privilege, by the way), complete with a lid where you can see the wiring harnesses. In base form, yes, it’s cheap and efficient. But I just don’t understand the reasons to buy this “loaded” SE. At $13,000, the Mirage is sort of a bargain. At nearly $18,000, it’s a mistake.
- I can’t hate on any car that gets over 40 mpg on the highway. With only 78 horsepower – a 4-hp increase over last year, actually – the 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine’s power is anemic at best. But the sedan’s 42-mpg highway number is actually doable, and that’s hugely important for a lot of buyers.
- You do get a lot of features, including heated seats, a touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and pushbutton start (it’s even on the left, you know, like a Porsche).
- Every subcompact sedan is horribly ugly, in my opinion – they all look like one of those big baby carrots that’s actually just two baby carrots that grew together. But at least the Mirage’s new face is a vast improvement over the pre-refresh car. It’s actually kind of cute when viewed from the front.
- It may be efficient, but the 1.2-liter, naturally aspirated inline-three creates a cacophony of NVH issues. The car shakes at idle, it sounds super rough and coarse all of the time. And in motion, this has to be one of the slowest cars on the road today. Ford’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine taught me that three-pots can be modern marvels. The Mirage’s mill is just an unpleasant reminder of the past.
- The suspension is both too soft and too harsh at the same time, and that’s actually kind of remarkable. The stiff springs and 15-inch wheels slam over bumps, while the body roll and vague steering inspire exactly zero confidence from behind the wheel. Yes, it’s super easy to park and fine to drive in cities, but this car is rather unpleasant after extended periods of time behind the wheel.
- I won’t beat a dead horse, but there are just too many fit-and-finish and material issues to count in this car, not to mention really hastily tacked-on things (check out that Bluetooth microphone glued to the steering column). On a more practical level, it’s hard to use, with rear seats that don’t fold down, a cramped cockpit and weird seating position for the sake of a little extra legroom, and a laggy infotainment system.
- Let me be clear: My big issue with the Mirage is that, especially in SE trim, it’s not a value, at all. I can see the merit of getting a brand-new car with usable space and good fuel economy for just $13,000, but the nearly $18,000 of this car buys you a ton of other, better options, both new and used.
Photos: James Bradbury & Steven Ewing / Motor1.com