QUEBEC CITY -- When talking about the newest addition to the Mitsubishi lineup, the manufacturer makes no illusions about it, despite the apropos name.
With the all-new 2014 Mirage, what you see is what you get. And what you get is an efficiently packaged vehicle, one that is great on fuel, has an amazing warranty and an affordable price tag.
Those are probably its top selling features. The rest are bonuses.
With a starting MSRP of $12,498, the five-door subcompact offers its driver a five-speed manual transmission, ABS, power windows up front, electric power steering, a cargo cover and more.
Oh and the spoiler around back? That's standard equipment. It is not just for good looks or street credit. To achieve its impressive .28 coefficient of drag, the rear spoiler is one of the key players, along with the patented teardrop-shape roof.
Like the Mirage chocolate bar, this vehicle is light and bubbly. Well, as bubbly as the 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine can be. Don't get too excited when you read that it has 74 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque. You could possibly get excited about those numbers. I'm not judging you.
One of the testers, the Plasma Purple variant, might not win pink slips at the strip, but that's not what it was designed for. It will, however, get you from point A to B, and will do so without hassle and a few heads will turn. It's a hard hue to miss.
Also keep in mind its curb weight is a mere 895 kilograms. In comparison, the Chevrolet Spark weighs in at 1,029 kg and has room for only four.
Speaking of people room: Up front, the driver and passenger are living the good life. In the back, it's pretty darn good, too. Even with the front seats pushed as far back as they can go, an average-sized adult shouldn't have any issues feeling at home in the second row. Stretching legs might not necessarily be an option, but at least the back seats are usable for transporting people. That might sound like an inane remark, but there have been plenty of occasions where I've had a larger test vehicle that fails to facilitate adults in the rear comfortably.
On the topic of room: With the second-row seats folded down, there is a 487-litre cargo capacity. Not bad for a vehicle that's considered smaller than the average subcompact.
Safety tends to be a hot topic of discussion around smaller vehicles, so Mitsubishi made sure its pint-sized five-door was well-equipped to handle life's unexpected circumstances. Along with the aforementioned ABS, the Mirage comes with a Brake Assist and Brake Override System, along with Active Stability Control and Traction Control Logic as standard features, even on the base ES model.
So now that we've gone over a few of the Mirage's fundamental features, what does it feel like when you get behind the wheel?
It's a vehicle that gets the job done and with a twist; the twist being that it comes in a few fun colours. There's your standard Cloud White, Starlight Grey, Thunder Grey or Mystic Black, but how about taking out a Sapphire Blue, Kiwi Green, Infrared or even Plasma Purple? If the Mirage doesn't attract stares on its own, surely one of the rainbow-coloured models will turn heads. On the neutral-toned and cobble-stoned streets of Quebec City, needless to say, there wasn't much flying under the radar in Plasma Purple.
Fun fact for pub trivia: Four of the eight colours were named by individuals who entered suggestions in a Facebook contest.
The personality of the Mirage also has sparkle to it. Having taken some pre-production models out for a spin, it provided a good idea of its urban-commuting capabilities.
It is offered with a choice of a five-speed manual or a CVT, and either transmission works as it should for the tasks at hand. Personal preference sways me to the five-speed manual, but the CVT, which uses an auxiliary gearbox -- a fancy way of saying a weight and fuel saving technology that is easy to service and efficient in application -- isn't a bad option, either.
Yes, you have some engine drone when you accelerate quickly, but that's the case for most smaller displacement engines with this particular transmission. Noise, vibration and harshness were manageable, but weren't at their best since they were pre-production models. Either way, it was very livable for the price point.
Inside, you won't find too many bells and whistles. You'll get a few of them on the top-of-the-line SE Convenience trim, but the seats are cushy and the utilitarian-style centre stack and layout have appeal. It's a back-to-the-basics vehicle, which is what Mitsubishi sets out to deliver. And it delivers it well.
Overall, the first iteration of Mitsubishi Canada's foray into the subcompact segment left me with a smile on my face. A job well done.
The target market for the Japanese automaker is those who are returning buyers with a median age of 54, female and retired. But that doesn't exclude anyone who is looking for affordable transportation in a cute little package.
-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2013