Thursday, November 17, 2016

Review: 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 Sedan on the street

As you’ll recall, The Mitsubishi Mirage made a return to the U.S. market as a 2014 model. While it could be equipped with options like Bluetooth, cruise control, and a touchscreen infotainment system, the Mirage felt mostly unrefined and dated as we noted in our review. It did, however, deliver 44 MPG on the highway. There was a minimalist, simplistic quality to the Mirage that was somewhat endearing, but the Chevrolet Spark was fierce competition. Nonetheless, the Mirage sold better than most would’ve expected.

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 front fascia

Mitsubishi skipped the 2016 model year and instead focused on a refreshed, more refined Mirage for MY2017. The ’17 version features a more mature front fascia, a few more horsepower, retuned shock damping, upgraded brakes, and more noise/vibration/harshness refinements that will hopefully quell some of the criticisms of the Thai-built runabout. In addition, Mitsubishi now offers a sedan version called the G4, and that’s what we got to spend some time with here.

I have to give credit to Mitsubishi for sticking with the Mirage. In this time of low gas prices and spiking SUV and truck sales, the Mirage soldiers on to battle against its arch nemesis, the Chevy Spark (which has also been redesigned). However, the Spark is only available as a five-door hatchback (although we still dig the mint color).

Mitsubishi Mirage G4 sedan driving

Some subcompact sedans can have strange proportions. This includes the Ford Fiesta sedan and, most notably, the Nissan Versa. The Mirage G4 rides that line of weirdo-looking sedans with droopy butts. You can almost hear it in the board rooms. "Can't we just take the hatchback and graft on a trunk?" I think our SE trim level’s larger 15-inch wheels helps with the overall ass-heavy proportions; the smaller 14-inch wheels on the ES tend to throw things off a bit. But regardless, the wheels’ offsets are totally too high—they are sucked way too far into the body to look good.

The new front fascia is much preferred to the ’14–’15 front end, which looks cartoonish or like a kid’s play toy with no sharp edges. The new chrome-trimmed grille adds a bit of style and sophistication to the tiny sedan. I also like the LED strips at the corners near the fog lamps.

Inside, there are significant improvements throughout. You no longer get the sound of an empty paint can when you flip the sun visors against the roof. The overall build quality feels much improved, like the car was assembled better. The interior upholstery feels (and looks) more upscale. Hell—it’s got heated front seats! The LCD touchscreen display is heaps better than the ’14 Mirage’s we tested; the HVAC is easy to use. The piano black accents are a nice touch, and overall everything just feels like it has moved up a couple of notches on the quality scale.

Push the engine-start button (still located on the left side of the steering wheel, which screws me up every time), and the little 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine buzzes to life. The engine now makes 78 hp (up from 74) but still has 74 ft/lbs. of torque. However, thank God, the engine doesn’t vibrate like paint-mixing machine at idle anymore. The last Mirage’s engine shook like a wet dog when in drive waiting at stop signs. That, of course, translated into the cabin and was annoying.

I’m not going to lie: I couldn’t notice the extra four horsepower, which translates into 5.4% more gusto. The Mirage SE, which only comes with a CVT, is pokey at best, despite the new Sport mode. Flooring it produces more noise than movement. It’s slow for a modern car. Heck, it’s kind of slow for an older car with 0-60 times just shy of 13 seconds, and quarter mile times approaching 20 seconds according to Car and Driver. That’s glacial. Truth be told, it’s not bad for darting around the city, and once up to speed, it cruises nicely (and is surprisingly quiet). But passing is a bit daunting, as is merging.

While the new Mirage G4 is certainly quieter than the previous Mirage, whisper quiet it isn't. There is a significant amount of engine noise that barks from its 1200cc engine, and the CVT’s single-gear droning nature only exacerbates that. Luckily, the Mirage G4 rides much better than expected, and the interior is actually pretty comfortable. The seats are cushy but unsupportive. Think couch cushions. The steering is slow and numb, and handling is not the Mirage G4’s forte, despite the retuned suspension for 2017. It leans a lot and understeers a ton when pushed. That being said, the turning circle is very, very good. And due to the compliant ride, it’d be a good long-haul subcompact for road trips. This thing also weighs a super light 2,194 lbs., which helps with that fuel economy.

Mitsubishi Mirage G4 back seat

Backseat room is rather gigantic, actually. There’s even a center folding armrest with two cup holders. There are noticeable little things that have seen cost reduction, such as the rear seatbelt guides, which are simply fabric loops and a snap. Hey, it works, so who cares? As a side note, trunk space is generous.

The Mirage G4 is a fuel miser and is EPA rated at 35 city, 42 highway, and 37 combined. I got a rather disappointing 32 MPG—with a car this slow, you often need to punch the throttle, and that eats into fuel economy. The ’14 hatchback we tested was rated 37 city, 42 highway, and 39 combined, but those numbers are very close and in real-world scenarios, you probably wouldn’t noticed a difference between the two.

The Mirage G4, and likely the updated ’17 Mirage hatchback, are both improved upon the ’14–’15 model in just about every way. That being said, they’re still not up to the same par as a Nissan Versa or Hyundai Accent in terms of refinement or power. That being said, the Mirage bests the Versa by three MPG combined and the Accent by seven MPG combined. The other thing Mitsubishi has going for it is a stellar warranty: 5 year, 60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, 10 years, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, and 7 year, 100,000 miles anti-corrosion/perforation warranty. That’s better than Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, or Ford.

Mitsubishi Mirage G4 Sedan rear

So what does all this miserly performance cost? Our tester had a total MSRP of $17,830 including delivery. However, it’s unlikely anyone with a decent credit score would pay that. Compare that to the top-of-the line Versa Sedan in SL trim, and you’re saving a couple hundred bucks. Personally, if it were me, I’d opt for a lower trim level, save some dough, and throw on a set of aftermarket wheels and tires with a better look. But why someone would buy a Mirage G4 vs. the Toyota Yaris iA (e.g. Scion iA) is a bit of a mystery. The Yaris iA is a driver's car that's well equipped, much more refined, and pretty much on par with the cost.

So Mitsubishi is going toe-to-toe with the subcompact sedans in the segment. Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly as many Mitsu dealers around the country, so you’d need to live in a metro area to get one. Regardless, Mirage sales remain in the black for 2016 (up 0.4% as of October, 2016), so people are buying them. And if you’re looking for fantastic fuel economy and a wonderful warranty, the Mirage may be worth a trip to the Mitsubishi dealer. It’s not the most refined, but it’s certainly one of the most improved and affordable.

THE BASICS: 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage G4
MSRP As Tested: $17,830
Engine: 1.2-liter MIVEC DOHC 3 cyl.
Transmission: CVT
Horsepower: 78
Torque:s 74 lb/ft
Curb Weight: 2,194 lbs.
Wheelbase: 100.4
Overall Length: 169.5"
Suspension: F: MacPherson Struts
R: Torsion Beam
Brakes: F: Disc w/ABS
R: Drum w/ABS
Wheels: 15" alloys
Tires: 175/55/15
Fuel Economy (MPG): 35 city, 37 combined, 42 highway
Fuel Type: Regular (87 octane)


Michael Tillman said...

I test drove this car last week. Your review is on the money. In the end I decided to trade my Fiat 500L in for the Kia Rio hatchback. With rebates it was very close in price for a lot more car with a quieter and more comfortable ride. Nice review.

Glenn said...

Had to check when I read 30 seconds. Should read just shy of 13 seconds. Still pretty slow, but 30 seconds is glacial.

nlpnt said...

At MSRP this is $200 *more* than a Honda Fit LX automatic (with shipping). You'd give up the alloys but gain a hatch and much better resale. It's also not far off a Fit EX manual that does get the tasty alloys (and a sunroof) and is what I'd go with.

TBH the Mirage still makes the most sense as a basic ES manual hatchback (incidentally, the hatch SE is available with a manual but the loaded "GT" (hah!) isn't). If you want one of these with a slushbox (rubber-band box?) why pay for new when you can get a 6 month/15,000 mile-old one for half price out of a rental fleet?

kheggem3 said...

Man, these are discounted so Heavily that it is Hard to even bring up a name like "Fit".

18 grand? Try $12,700. Fully equipped G4 with CVT.

Nothing can beat that.

But, the $10,500 OTD (I am not at all telling a Fib) for the base model hatch is hard to not find worth considering as well.

I am looking at either the G4 with a stick, because they are way nicer to drive with a stick... of a SE hatch (I want cruise control) for $12,150.

Nothing can touch the quality, reliability, and MPGs for these prices. Nothing.

I got 50.9 MPG cruising on the freeway for 20 min on my last test drive of a 5 speed SE hatch at 57 mph.

I was Sold.

Kenny Heggem said...

I am seeing the GT go for $13,600.

Unknown said...

I love my G4. Just what I need. Cost $13,340. GREAT mileage. No problems with merging or increasing in speed when necessary nor, has it sucked up gas on doing so! Not a race car but; perfect for me.