I previously owned a 2012 Nissan Versa SV sedan. That was my first brand-new car. The only reason I got rid of it after only two years of ownership was due to poor overall quality. That car was having mechanical problems, paint quality problems, and build quality problems. Nissan's warranty is very short by modern standards, and the car was already out of warranty after only two years. I was very disappointed with the quality of that car. It was the first Nissan I had ever owned and I expected great overall quality. Boy was I disappointed!
So far, I am much happier with the overall quality of my 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage. With the exception of fewer squeaks and rattles in the Mirage, the interior quality is pretty much identical to that of my Versa. Hard, cheap plastic everywhere that easily scratches and scuffs. That's to be expected in an entry-level economy car though. I really don't hold it as a mark against this car, or any economy car at this price point.
I read somewhere online that the CVT transmission in the Mirage is the same basic unit as is used in the Nissan Versa. However, the behavior of the two transmissions is extremely different. In the Mirage, the transmission behavior is much smoother and much more responsive. It does seem, however, that it does not have a locking torque converter as seems to be the case in the Nissan Versa. This means the RPM bounces up and down a lot more when driving on hilly terrain and the engine RPM rests higher while cruising at interstate speeds, adversely affecting highway fuel economy and making for noisier highway driving.
Engine performance is a mixed bag. Off the line response is extremely sluggish and loud. However at 3500 RPM and above, the engine feels quite strong considering the diminutive 1.2L three cylinder displacement and meager 74 HP. I am the type of driver who does not like to push my cars hard, however I find it necessary far too often to have to rev the engine uncomfortably high to maintain speed on hills and keep up with traffic. I guess this is to be expected with such a small powerplant. With that being said, this engine loves to rev and I love the way it sounds. Engines with an odd number of cylinders have a nice growly sound to them.
Since I'm on the subject of noises, I should talk about interior noise. Although I don't find engine noise terribly obnoxious in this little inexpensive car, I do find the road and wind noise to be excessive. The wind noise I can tolerate, but the road noise is just too much. Another noisy point of this car is the exhaust noise. It is bizarrely loud. I can't figure out if Mitsubishi just didn't spend enough R&D time tuning the exhaust, or if they intentionally to do it to sound pseudo-sporty. All I know is it's oddly loud.
Let's move on to interior comfort. I find the ergonomics in this Mirage much more suitable for me than in my Nissan Versa. It's wasn't hard for me to find a comfortable position in the Mirage. In the Versa, it literally took me about two months to find a moderately comfortable driving position, and even then the steering wheel felt too far away. The seat is surprisingly comfortable, even for long trips. I have taken two 800 mile round-trips in this car very comfortably. That's saying a lot because I have a bad back and it tends to cramp up prematurely if I am in an uncomfortable seat.
Another surprisingly comfortable aspect of driving the Mirage is the ride quality. It feels a little more jittery on smooth pavement than it did in the Nissan, but overall the car rides surprisingly smooth and comfortably, even over rough pavement. The reason for this being that the suspension on the Mirage is tuned very soft. It doesn't float, but it is freakishly soft for an economy car… heck, any car for this day and age. The downside to this soft suspension is that it bottoms out very easily. Within the first two weeks of ownership I managed to scrape the bottom of the front of the car going over a hump in the road. Completely caught me off guard. This is a hump I've been over many times before in other cars without any trouble.
Lastly, regarding the driving experience, the steering is vague. The steering in the Nissan Versa felt overly sensitive and far too light, but in the Mirage the steering is really unresponsive. It's most noticeable when driving it on a twisting country road or making 90° turns in the city. Quite strange considering this car is really designed to be a city car. I expected it to be a much more nimble handler. Quite frankly, it should be. I hope Mitsubishi fixes the soft, sloppy suspension and steering that this car currently has. I think it could actually be a great handling and maneuverable car if they improve these aspects.
I am only 5'7", but I have bumped my head exiting the car several times. Although the driver's seat is height adjustable, I find the seat to be still too high in its lowest position. The height of the roof also seems a little bit on the low side. It was exceptionally easy to get in and out of my Nissan Versa. I should also note here that the adjustment control for the driver's seat height adjustment is a crappy design. Unlike the Nissan Versa, which uses a large handle to pump up or lower the seat, the Mirage uses a large knob that is very difficult to turn when you are seated. It's just plain awkward.
Moving on to the controls and displays, I am very happy with both. All of the buttons, knobs, and markings are large in this car. It kind of has a Playskool vibe, but hey, if it's easier to use, I'm all for it.
The automatic climate control in this car is fantastic! Both the air conditioning and heater work very well. Set it and forget it. This is the first car I've ever owned with automatic climate control. I will never own another car without it. I love it!
This car has some nice little hidden features that some people probably don't even realize it possesses. For example, it has semi automatic turn signals. Instead of holding the turn signal lever up or down as you change lanes, you can simply tap the lever up or down and it will automatically blink the turn signal three times. At first I found it very awkward to use, but with some practice I now use it all the time. Another obscure but useful feature is the speed sensitive windshield wipers. For those of you who do not know what this is, the windshield wipers automatically speed up and slow down depending on your speed. It's a surprisingly useful feature. You do have the option of preset intermittent, low, and high wiper speeds like in any other car, if you so choose.
The stereo is nothing stellar, but it does have surprisingly nice sound quality. Especially when you consider it is only a four speaker system. The USB connection is fantastic. I download all of my iTunes music onto a USB stick and plug it into the USB port in the glove box. It's like having your own personal jukebox in the car. I probably just dated myself.
Overall, I really do enjoy owning and driving this little car. Sure, it's slow and noisy, but at the same time it's rather a joy to drive. It's cute. It's quirky. It has a great deal of personality and charm. That was one aspect that my Nissan Versa seriously lacked. That car was like driving a toaster, even if it was a little bit nicer car in some ways. Just too damn bland. Overall, I find the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage to be a nicer and more enjoyable car to own and drive.