2014 Mitsubishi Mirage first drive
Photo: Michael Bettencourt
Mitsubishi’s new three-cylinder Mirage a simple ode to low-cost motoring
Quebec City, Que. – This is a car for folks that generally don’t read car reviews. It is amongst the three least powerful new cars you can buy in North America with but 74 horsepower. It’s smaller than even a typical subcompact car. There’s little flair on the styling front, inside or out, save for the choice of a funky pink-ish purple paint job that screams utmost confidence in one’s feminine side.
If you’re still with us, the all-new 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage obviously holds at least some mild interest for you. Perhaps it’s because it has become the first three-cylinder vehicle in Canada to offer more than two seats for a generation at least, since the departure of the Suzuki Swift from the ‘90s. Or perhaps you’re intrigued over Mitsubishi’s claims that it is now “Canada’s most fuel efficient, gasoline-powered subcompact,” which would be true if Toyota’s subcompact Prius c wasn’t also powered by gasoline.
Or maybe it’s the Mirage name itself that intrigues, the car making its splashy North American debut early this year at the Montreal auto show with no name, strangely, besides “the new Mitsubishi subcompact.” Turns out the company wanted to wait for the U.S. to confirm that it too would use the Mirage name, obviously wanting to avoid having different names on both sides of the border, as occurs now with the RVR/Outlander Sport twins.
Going back to the boxy basics of econocars, with low price key
Photo: Michael Bettencourt
Ironically, though the names are the same, Mitsubishi decided to go a different route from their American counterparts when equipping the Mirage with standard or available features. Mitsu Canada has pared down the convenience features and options list compared to the U.S. offering, with the result being that Canadian Mirages start at $12,498, or about $500 less than their American equivalents. When does that ever happen?
That’s not quite as low as the ’14 Chevrolet Spark’s $11,995 starting MSRP, but the Mitsu’s $12,498 price is low enough to at least approach the $12k Nissan Versa sedan and Spark for least costly new car on the market, even though these prices relate to woefully basic vehicles that lack air conditioning and automatic transmissions.
Want those two niceties in your Spark or Mirage? Then you’re looking at about 15 grand in either one - $14,895 for the Spark LS Automatic, and $15,398 for the Mirage SE. At that price, the Mirage also adds welcome heated seats and power rear windows to its standard front power windows and door locks, while a $500 convenience package tacks on stereo and cruise controls to the steering wheel, Bluetooth, and a USB adapter in the glovebox.
By modern new car standards, these amount to a bare minimum of features, so you’ll want to tick all of the option boxes to ensure your funds go towards Bluetooth convenience rather than traffic fines.
Comforting interior simplicity will be too simple for some
Throw in the hefty $1,450 freight and PDI charge, and a loaded Mirage comes to $18,548, or $17,348 with the manual five-speed transmission. That $1,450 freight charge is a far cry from the US$795 charged in the continental U.S., so you can kiss that Canadian price advantage goodbye – even Alaskans and Hawaiians are only charged US$920 in dealer transportation costs.
Mitsubishi Canada product planning manager Don Ulmer said Canada’s pre-delivery procedure is much more extensive than in the U.S., without going into detail on exactly how. To be fair, Mitsu is far from the only company doing it, as the Thailand-built Mirage’s freight charges are in line with most rivals, with Nissan’s equally new 2014 Versa Note charging $1,567 in freight and pre-delivery charges.
Perhaps it would be easier to admire the Mirage’s low price if it was a slam-dunk looker.
Unfortunately, despite the standard rear spoiler that contributes to impressive aerodynamics and therefore fuel efficiency, it’s not. The tiny wheels never grow larger than 14-inches in diameter, or wider than an anorexic 165 mm across, both figures contributing to a look that says: please feed me, so I can fill up these wheel wells.