18th Feb 2015, 09:57
Most "professional" reviews of the car are quite bad. OWNER reviews are almost universally quite good.
Cars like the Mirage have been off the market in this country for so long that I don't think many reviewers know what to make of it... particularly younger reviewers. They have never experienced new cars with such a humble mission and narrow focus, though these kinds of cars used to be common in the US market some years ago. The Mirage makes no excuses about being a basic car, and many professional auto enthusiasts seem taken aback by just HOW basic it is.
As far as Mitsubishi staying in the States, its chairman has said unequivocally (on many occasions) that they are not leaving. Were they going to leave, they likely would have done so a few years ago when their sales really cratered and would not be introducing new models now.
People said the same kinds of things about Subaru leaving in the mid-1990s and about Hyundai leaving in the early 2000s. They both improved their products, introduced some popular new models, and are doing quite well in the US today.
I guess time will tell!
26th Feb 2015, 05:50
Excellent review. I think you really hit the nail on the head with this car.
You are totally correct that the professional auto critics can't say enough bad things about this car, but actual owners of the Mirage love it! I'm one of those people. Well, maybe love is a bit too strong of a word, but I do really enjoy the car for what it is.
The car doesn't feel cramped for being as small as it is. I find the driver's seat surprisingly comfortable, even for trips.
I love the growly sound of the three cylinder engine. Power? It doesn't have much of that. Let's remind ourselves that it has a three cylinder engine with a whopping 74 HP. With that being said, I drive my Mirage primarily on the highway, an hour each way commuting, and it holds its own pretty well. Once you're up to speed, the engine settles down and hums along without much effort.
This car for me replaces a 2012 Nissan Versa sedan. The Versa in comparison felt nervous and twitchy on the highway compared to this car, but the engine and transmission were much more settled at highway speed.
I have two areas of disappointment with this car. One being the maintenance costs. This car requires synthetic oil, which is expensive and seems ridiculous in a cheap economy car. This car also requires that the engine valves adjusted every 60,000 miles. I already asked the dealer and he said it would cost around $200 for this service.
Thirdly, the CVT requires a fluid flush about every 60,000 miles. You're looking at another $200 for that.
Lastly, the three cylinder engine in this car uses a timing belt, which means it needs to be changed. More maintenance costs. So that covers my complaint about the ownership/running costs.
My second complaint is in regard to the fuel economy. Driven in its sweet spot of 45 to 55 mph, this car will get 50 miles per gallon or more, which is excellent! However, on the interstate the fuel economy is abysmal, relatively speaking. Cruising at 70 mph I have only been able to manage around 38 miles per gallon. Very disappointed with this. My 2012 Versa, which is a larger car with a larger four-cylinder engine, was capable of getting in the mid 40s cruising at 70 mph on trips. I expected to get at least that if not even better, since this is a smaller, lighter car with a smaller and less powerful engine. With that being said, the Mirage has a hell of a lot more personality than the Nissan Versa. The Versa drives like an appliance. Transmission aside, it is a much more refined car. However, the Mitsubishi Mirage has a heck of a lot more personality!
26th Feb 2015, 10:30
Thanks for your addendum... very well-written and informative. In all honesty, it should be a stand-alone review itself!
One correction, however. The 3A92 engine in the Mirage uses a timing CHAIN, not a belt. Take off the oil filler cap and you can actually see it! So no replacement will be necessary. There is a bit of Third World toughness built into this car, and that is one reason I like it. Most of the time, valve adjustment is really done on an 'as-needed' basis. I will do it at 60k to keep the warranty up, but after that it should only need to be done if the valvetrain becomes noisy.
The points you note about the CVT are amongst the reasons I decided to go for the five-speed. I don't like CVTs, and I don't trust CVTs. Since mine is a city car, the five-speed works really well as far as MPG goes. I am regularly in the mid-to-high 40s. But up at freeway speeds, the engine is revving a bit too high with the manual, IMHO.
Personally, I don't mind putting in 0W-20 synthetic. A few extra bucks per oil change seems to me a small price to pay for a 100k powertrain warranty, eh? There aren't many engines nowadays, at any price point, that still spec the old dino oil anyway. Most modern engines have high compression, variable valve timing, etc. These all require a clean, pure oil that doesn't break down.
My girlfriend also bought a new Mirage today. And she loves it!
22nd Mar 2015, 18:25
I own a 2014 Mirage. It's the best car that I have ever owned - 52 MPG highway. I drive 43 miles one way, all highway. Love the car - the critics are hypocrites. It rides nice, and I can get 65 miles per hour in 3rd gear merging onto a freeway - it has plenty of snap.
30th Mar 2015, 19:40
We own a 2014 Mirage in the UK, in top manual spec, and really rate the review you posted for hitting the nail on head. We wanted a bomb-proof, safe, cheap second car for our rough rural roads, and we actually bought it after viewing and testing every single other car available in the UK in the price bracket over three months. Yes, the Ford Ka handles better, the VW up! is cleverer etc etc, but nothing, I repeat nothing gives this spec, space, safety and economy in this price bracket.
The reviewers' universal hate of the Mirage in the UK, US, Canada and EU is no surprise as they have the car for 1-7 days of jolly driving, and rate cornering, damped interior handles and wacky dash design over timing chains, comfy seats, cabin space and so on.
We are highly critical, and if paid to pull the car to pieces, we would comment that the low speed ride is choppy, the handling is vague, the seat trim purple colour is an odd choice, some undercoat is visible under the bonnet, cabin noise is above average and the front sensors should be able to be turned off totally, not each and every journey. In the UK we do not get cruise, Bluetooth or any steering wheel controls, which is irritating.
However, put this against the superb snarly, powerful and quick (in this segment) engine and super light controls, snicky gearbox, ease of use, great stereo, comfort, high spec, nice dealers and great MPG. The car is fun to drive as it reaches the limits of the suspension, handling and grips quickly, and the engine is fun to thrash, but pulls from tickover so can be hooned and cruised as needed.
The car carries through the design intent exactly; to create a world car on a budget, produced in one factory and sold worldwide with minor tweaks, with low kerb-weight, high MPG and strong reliability. What it gained along the way was a great deal of character and ease of use.
The poor reviews did us a huge favour; by putting off "sheep" buyers, we were able to buy a 13 month old, 3000 mile car with every option for 50% of the new price, with the remaining service package, warranty and EU breakdown included from the main dealer. Depreciation should now be minimal and running costs too, so really there is not much we could compare it to for the money we paid in the end.
Ignore the "professional" reviews and go and look at one seriously. The Mirage (or Space Star in EU) is a great car, and having owned or driven most other new cars, the areas it lacks in are more than made up by its talents in other areas, and as a private long term owner on a budget, there is simply nothing to beat it.