When I first got into the Mitsubishi Mirage, I thought it was more a third-world transportation device. After all, the doors are tinny, the engine is buzzy, and every other automotive journalist made fun of the poor Mitsu as if it were a sixth grader with oversized glasses and acne. But, you know, after living with the Mirage for a week, you start to see its inherent good.
The seats are comfortable for an econobox. The black trim around the instrument cluster classes the place up — kind of like the Pininfarina soda machine in Burger King. The 14-inch eco tires really soak up the bumps, and the suspension has a dose of fun built into it. As for acceleration, hey, what the heck do you want from three cylinders?
Obviously, Car and Driver wanted a lot more, because they only achieved 26 MPG beating on the poor car like a huge drunk guy with a history of domestic violence. I didn’t coddle the Mitsubishi, but I used it for its intended purpose. It brought me to work into the city comfortably. I had to go to JFK airport yesterday in torrential downpours. I thought it was going to be miserable (pellets of rain on the tinny roof) and challenging (those tires look like they would hydroplane if you hit them with a spray bottle). However, the wet weather handling of the Mirage was admirable for its intended purpose.
And the intended purpose is good basic transportation with great fuel economy. And my final number for the week is 47.7 MPG. Which takes out my Ford C-Max Hybrid without any battery gadgetry. No, just three lonesome cylinders of MIVEC-tuned power give you the go juice to handle most everything the road throws at you. Planning to pass is an exercise, but coupled to the CVT, the Mitsubishi Mirage ES does its thing and cannot be argued as woefully underpowered. The zero-to-60 times mimic that of the original Ford Explorer V6. Perspective is everything.
I am kind of going to miss the Mitsubishi Mirage. It has plenty of utility — unlike, say, a Smart — and still you can fit it into some pretty small parking spots. The turning radius also rocks.
I feel good I used the Mitsubishi Mirage for its purpose, and it performed admirably. If you want to beat a car like a red-headed stepchild, leave that to autojournos of other magazines. But if you are just looking for some inexpensive, reliable transportation that also has navigation and keyless start, check out the Mitsubishi Mirage.
Disclosure: Mitsubishi provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.