A city car that lacks imagination

 
Ryan Borroff
Mitsubishi promised a fresh approach, but the new Mirage will make you fall asleep at the wheel

I’ve been driving the latest Mitsubishi Mirage city car – and it’s fine. Well, it’s okay. Adequate. It’s the very definition of a three-star car, but I'm giving it two, because over the course of our time together it became more and more apparent that nobody involved in its development were aiming any higher than “that’ll do”.

Mitsubishi claims to have taken a fresh approach with this city car, but I can find little that is innovative about it. The Mirage is supposed to be a no-nonsense, lightweight, efficient replacement for the Colt model. But it’s unremarkable in almost every way. In fact, the only remarkable thing about it is how successfully it makes no impact upon me at all. Shortly after I return the car to Mitsubishi, I ask my car-connoisseur wife what she thought of it, and she has complete automotive amnesia – she can’t even remember it being parked outside our house, let alone taking it for a drive.

I’d love to tell you that it’s a cheery little car with bags of character – but it isn’t. In a market where most other manufacturers are scrambling to give their products a distinctive image, the Mirage feels totally outmoded. Where the Colt had a certain Japanese je ne sais quoi about it, the styling here says little more than “basic city car”.

However, it’s a cinch to drive it in suburban London roads, clogged up with 4x4s. Its three-cylinder engine adds personality too, although it doesn’t make for the most comfortable ride over potholes and sleeping policemen. On the motorway it feels slow and fairly sluggish even though it only weighs 845kg. The wind and road noise is pretty loud too.

Inside, it doesn’t get much better. The clean and simple design is certainly practical – and it does feel spacious, particularly in the back – but the interior plastics are hard and the cabin is dull to look at. It does, though, have a comparatively roomy 235 litre boot.

I was driving the more expensive Mirage 3 version, which is powered by a 1.2-litre, 79bhp three-cylinder petrol engine. A smaller 1.0-litre, 69bhp version is also available in lower Mirage 1 spec. My test car returns excellent fuel economy of 65.7mpg with CO2 emissions of just 100g/km. There’s no doubt about it, the Mirage is a very easy car to drive – but it is dull. The best thing about it is the clever three-bar “Eco Drive Assist” display, which tracks how frugally you’re driving with a series of little flashing green lights. It’s addictive learning to tailor the way you’re driving to improve your eco score. This is the most engaging element to the driving. A bit more character would have made a world of difference.

If you’re the kind of person who refers to Which magazine when buying a toaster, or someone who generally only views a car as a necessary overhead, then the Mirage could be for you.

THE FACTS:
MITSUBISHI MIRAGE

PRICE: £11,999
0-62MPH: 11.7 secs
TOP SPEED: 112mph
CO2 G/KM: 100g/km
MPG COMBINED: 65.7mpg

The VERDICT:

DESIGN Two Stars
PERFORMANCE Two Stars
PRACTICALITY Three Stars
VALUE FOR MONEY Three Stars