Seeing is believing with a Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi Mirage
Mitsubishi Mirage
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THE Mirage is a three-cylinder, five-door supermini made in Thailand. It has a demure front and a sporty rear spoiler. In Europe it replaces the Colt, which was built in the Netherlands.

This latest Mirage enjoys a lower build cost to keep prices down. It is claimed to be the lightest and most efficient petrol five-door car on sale. Both the one litre and 1.2 litre models slip under the 100g/km CO2 rating to avoid London congestion charges and the annual road tax. At the moment it is the only range of models which meets this target.

The Mirage is sold in three trim levels numbered 1 to 3. The entry one litre 69bhp Mirage 1 has front curtain airbags, stability and traction control and records 67.3mpg and 96g/km. The 0-62mph time is 13.6 seconds. It costs £8,999 but you pay extra for a radio.

Prices for the 79bhp 1.2 start at £10,999 for the Mirage 2. Its mpg improves to 68.9 and the CO2 remains at 96g/km. The 0-62mph dash improves to 11.7 seconds. Kit includes rear power windows, automatic lights and wipers, privacy glass and cosmetic trim changes. The Mirage 3 at £11,999 has stop/start ignition, air conditioning, a leather wheel, keyless entry, 15 inch alloys. With CVT automatic gears it costs £12,999. Weights are 845 to 865kg. All models have the rear roof spoiler to help reduce drag and improve economy.

At 3.7 metres long or just over 12 feet the Mirage packs a lot in. Four average adults can sit comfortably, with room for a thin-un in the middle.

Its power to weight ratio is good. It is more than 100kg lighter than the Micra and by heck it feels it. The handling is breezy, with an often savage amount of clatter and sloppy handling. White lines seemed to send it awry, too. Conversely, it is an easy drive. The steering and gearshifts give it a nimble feel and the Yokohama Blue Earth 175/55 ratio eco tyres hang on stoically in bends.

There are several useful storage compartments in the cabin, but passenger must do without a vanity mirror. The sun visors are too short – allowing direct sun dazzle around the ends and around the mirror, without the benefit of hatching on the screen.

The three pot 1.2 litre engine has a mild but evident throb. It pulls the light car well and the drive on motorways was almost calm after the urban rumbling. At 70mph in fifth the motor is running smooth and quiet at just over 3,000 revs.

One of the appeals is its economy, with official quotes of 59mpg in town, 76mpg extra urban and 69mpg overall. According to the trip meter I was getting 50mpg in general motoring, 53mpg on the motorway and 57mpg on a traffic-free commute of 45 miles. You may do better by watching the green leaf eco symbols to see how you are saving fuel. You may also notice how switching on the air conditioning affects the engine tickover – an infringement not felt by more powerful engines.

I covered 200 miles non-stop on motorways without discomfort. The urban rumble returned on the ordinary roads and this lack of refinement is something I never quite got used to.

Yet I liked the Mirage. It looks modest yet interesting and is one of the easiest cars to drive around town, too. n

Verdict: Small car, big heart, decent interior but the ride can be clumpy and steering deflection from road markings is unusual. Have a good, long drive before you say yes.