MOTORS REVIEW: Fuss-free, modest and efficient Mirage is making the most out of simplicity

Mitsubishi Mirage ANL-140319-100651001
Mitsubishi Mirage ANL-140319-100651001
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Raise your hand if you dislike luxury. Anyone? It’s hardly a surprise that we’re all fans of the good life. The only inevitable downside of course is that it costs money.

This applies to cars as much as it does to hotels. There are limousines out there that can give you a massage and blow chilled air at your feet while streaming audio wirelessly from the Internet – but do you really need any of that?

It’s this kind of ‘want versus need’ approach that has underpinned the thinking behind the Mirage, Mitsubishi’s supermini offering to replace the outgoing Colt.

If that sounds like something of a cop out then don’t be fooled; why make something more complicated than it needs to be? Particularly at this end of the market, simple makes sense.

The fuss-free approach starts when you first set eyes on the Mirage. There’s no big grille to catch the eye, just a slim grille and a discreet badge. There’s a relatively modest choice of colours too which helps keep the price down, but you can have everything from eye-popping green to more discreet greys and blacks.

Step inside and you’re met with simplicity and efficiency. This is not a cabin you’ll spend a long time getting to grips with, as the air con controls and stereo are mounted high up on the dash. There’s a giant speedometer and a dinky rev counter which are easy to read – only the small digital fuel gauge needs a little squint.

But the Mirage makes the most of its footprint. For a small car the amount of space inside is good. As long as they’re friends you can get three adults across the back seats, while those in the front will have nothing to grumble about. The boot is relatively short but makes up for this in depth – 235 litres with the seats up is about par for this size of car.

Fire up the Mirage and you’re greeted with a charismatic thrum. All versions are powered by a compact three-cylinder engine in 1.0-litre or 1.2-litre guise, and unlike the dull four-cylinder efforts that most small cars are lumped with, the Mirage’s motor is a keen companion. Think of it as half a Porsche flat-six and you’re part way there, in noise if not in performance.

Even the 1.2 is sufficient rather than fast, but a top speed of 112mph is more than enough. The flip side is the impressive economy; 68.9mpg combined is as good or even better than some diesel rivals.

The driving experience is ideal first-car material; low effort, light controls, very safe and sensible. On first acquaintance the steering can seem a little lifeless but it’s sufficiently accurate, while the light clutch and super-slick gearshift makes urban drives a breeze. Head out on the open road and it plugs along gamely, although it’s not as much fun as the best in class.

No, what the Mirage does best is make the most of simplicity. There are few petrol-engined cars that creep under the magic 100g/km barrier at this price point, and it’s as challenging to own and drive as a pre-completed crossword.