Friday, February 7, 2014

Reworked Mirage a seriously fuelish five-door

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website – via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at www.sacbee.com/business

Sacramento, California – The introduction of an all-new, five-door subcompact car is not the kind of news that typically prompts automotive journalists to bolt out of their seats and launch into thunderous applause.

But when you look at the sticker on a 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage and see 37 miles per gallon in the city and 44 mpg on the highway, that gets your attention … the same way a hard slap to the face does.

This Mirage is not a hybrid.  It’s packing a 1.2-liter, three-cylinder engine with 74 horsepower. Understandably, Mitsubishi touts its Mirage as the most fuel-efficient, gas-powered, non-hybrid out there.

Yeah, you say, but only 74 horsepower!  That probably means the neighbor’s dog can beat it down the street on any given day.

In truth, after a week in my Mirage ES hatchback tester, the car performed pretty well.  Yes, it made big noise when I mashed the accelerator to wedge the car into freeway traffic.  But once on the fly, it was pretty easy to handle.  It did not get pushed around in big-truck turbulence, and on city streets, it was nimble enough to give me a bit of an advantage.

Even in top-end ES trim, the starting price is $15,195.  My ride had no extras, yet the Mirage was equipped with attractive interior accents, a 140-watt CD/MP3/audio system, a Bluetooth hands-free phone system, cruise control, a continuously variable transmission, fog lights, steering wheel audio controls and the usual powered assortment for door locks and windows.

Back seat room, I must confess, is not going to handle three adults easily.  One of them, probably the one in the middle, is going to be grumpy.  But honestly, that’s pretty much true of any four-door subcompact, or most two-door, sporty models.

I might have driven my Mirage in absolute obscurity except for one thing: The paint job on my tester was Plasma Purple (pictured).  The better name for the exterior hue might be Shrieking Purple.  Let’s just say that lots of friends and neighbors noticed and offered unsolicited comments on it.  One, who shall remain nameless, said it looked like “Barbie’s car.”

Yee-OUCH!

Well, I’ve never had a problem with being noticed, so I can’t complain.

Mitsubishi has engineered this car to be an affordable transporter within reach of young motorists, and those who just want a reliable, seriously fuelish second ride that can do the chores that the household’s big SUV or sedan do while burning up buckets full of gas.

That’s the niche, and yes, this Mirage fits it nicely.

 

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