Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mitsubishi Mirage Offers Minicar Goodness

Automotive fans may recognize the Mitsubishi Mirage name, once ascribed to a compact car sold by this small, Japanese automotive manufacturer. We haven't seen the Mirage name in more than a decade, but Mitsubishi has dusted off the name and is using it for a new minicar that was launched in Thailand this spring. Although Mitsubishi says that the car will be sold in Canada, its plans for the U.S. market are not quite clear. We think the Mirage will eventually be sold stateside -- please read on for more information about this A-segment entry.

Minicar Competitor

What makes the Mirage a possible player in the small car segment? Firstly, that would be its size. This vehicle is just 146.1 inches long and 65.6 inches wide or a foot shorter than cars like the subcompact Ford Fiesta.

Secondly, cars in this class routinely sell for under $15,000, an affordable price point for most new car buyers. Car prices have been climbing steadily with the average price of a new car now approaching $30,000. With the low price tag, consumers don't have to choose between buying a late model used car and a new car. The Mirage brings affordability to many consumers including first-time car buyers. And with a new car warranty in play, buying new makes much more sense than buying used.

Mitsubishi is outfitting the Mirage with a pair of three-cylinder engines, displacing at 1.0- and 1.2-liters. The larger three will likely be sold in Canada and thus in the United States. This engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission. Expect that this model will sip gas and deliver fuel economy well above 40 mpg.

Body Style

The all-new Mitsubishi Mirage has four doors and a liftback. This car would compete in the relatively new A-segment, minicars that include the Smart Fortwo, Fiat 500, Scion iQ and the Chevrolet Spark. Sales in this segment are limited at this time, thus the hesitancy for Mitsubishi to introduce the Mirage to the U.S. market.

Automotive manufacturers are testing the market to see what cars will sell in what volumes. Perhaps the most important challenge to Mitsubishi as the company considers the Mirage is whether it can turn a profit. Another concern is promotion as the company is investing millions promoting other products including its Outlander SUV. Still, a Mitsubishi Mirage that is priced right and loaded with amenities such as air-conditioning, power windows, an audio system and telematics might appeal to a segment of the car-buying populace. That segment also includes city drivers, people that are likely to appreciate this car's small footprint that is just right for fitting into tight parking spaces.

Matthew C. Keegan is a freelance automotive writer. Matt is also a contributing writer for Andy's Auto Sport and affiliated websites, an aftermarket supplier of quality auto parts including K & N Intake and Corsa Exhaust.

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