“Cute” is the best word to describe Mitsubishi’s new Mirage supermini.
My test car came with a bright apple green paint job, leading my neighbours to immediately dub it “Granny Smith” and they either loved that colour or positively loathed it, with no half measures.
Clean lines, nose down, tail up – the styling is thoroughly in the contemporary rather sporty idiom. Among other things, Mitsubishi’s clever RISE safety body design maximises crash protection from all angles, directing impact forces away from the car’s occupants. It also enables the driver to see the front of the bonnet, providing exceptional manoeuvrability.
So what about beneath the skin? Replacing the popular Colt, the Mirage is claimed by its makers to offer the lightest, most aerodynamic and efficient petrol-powered two-door hatchback on the market – faster and roomier than such rivals as the Kia Picanto and Nissan Micra.
There are two engine options – a frugal, low-friction 1.0-litre on the entry level Mirage 1 and a 1.2-litre three-cylinder unit on Mirage 2 and 3, the second of which has auto stop and go as standard. A CVT automatic gearbox option is available on the top-spec Mirage 3.
Mirage is the only car presently on sale here that offers 100g/km Co2 or less right across the range, meaning zero excise duty. Combined cycle fuel economy ranges between 65.7 and 68.9 mpg, depending on model.
It’s nippy, easy to park, and has a best in class turning circle. The rather lively handling was less to my taste however. Where most modern cars simply glide round bends, this one under-steered enough to demand a conscious little tug of the steering wheel. It also had a tendency to skip its back wheels on rough adverse-cambered roads – the price of low weight and a short wheelbase.
Carrying capacity is impressive. Door access is good and five can travel in comfort – though the front seats could do with being a little more supportive, while the luggage area has a generous 235-litre capacity that expands to 600-litres with both of the split-fold rear seat-backs lowered.
Standard on all Mirage models are such items as a range of air-bags, ABS braking, stability and traction control, an emergency stop system, an engine immobiliser and daytime running lights, to which can be added a comprehensive range of optional goodies, most of which come as standard on higher grade versions of the car.
Convinced they have a winner, Mitubishi’s marketing people are predicting overall sales of 4,500 Mirages during the 2013-14 financial year.
You can get yourself into a Mirage driver’s seat for as little as £8,999, with the top spec Mirage 3 costing just a pound shy of £13,000.