1.2 Verve 5dr
..which is the best value supermini of all? June Neary checks out Mitsubishi's solution
Small Mitsubishi superminis have been around for years, usually called Colts and usually cars about as exciting as a quiet night in reading the European Constitution. Therefore when I heard that a small Mitsi was winging its way to chez Neary, I prepared for the worst, cancelling appointments for that forthcoming week and limiting myself to a three-mile radius of the house. In truth, I needn't have bothered. Neatly styled and very well equipped, the Mirage delivered to me, a 1.2-litre petrol model, was most presentable. In fact I had to go grovelling in order to get myself back onto the guest list of the party I'd blown off only half an hour previously.
In contrast to earlier Mitsubishi Colt models, this Mirage is all the brand's own work and looks quite smart, if a little unadventurously styled, without the big signature design flourishes of the latest generation of cars. But then if you wanted something like a Renault Clio, you'd probably be paying around quite a bit more. I thought that the seats looked smart. There's a slick steering wheel, too, with piano-black inserts and chrome accents. The centre panel with its gloss-black finish enhances the overall texture and gives a more elegant accent to the interior. Plus this car is well packaged, with decent interior space front and rear. In fact, the amount of leg room provided is greater than that on offer from a number of bigger cars we could mention. Boot space isn't at all bad at 235-litres and the 60/40 split rear seatbacks give some extra luggage capacity. In-cabin storage consists of three cup holders, pockets in the front door, a deep storage tray at the base of the centre stack and a reasonably sized glove box with a small tray above it.
I didn't expect this to be any kind of driver's car - and it isn't. My passengers were pleased to find that in my time with it, I cruised everywhere below the speed limit: it's that kind of car. You simply don't feel like pushing on. Buyers get one engine choice, an 80PS 1.2-litre unit, but you do get the option of a CVT automatic gearbox that really takes the drag out of city driving. This engine is quite perky, getting to 60mph in 11.7 seconds and running onto 112mph.
Prices start at around £10,500, which makes this a very good value supermini indeed given the amount of standard equipment that includes. Even the base 'Verve'-spec model gives you remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, a rear spoiler, air conditioning, a height-adjustable driver's seat and Bluetooth connectivity, including music streaming. The 'Design' version adds 15-inch black and silver alloy wheels, keyless entry, the 6.5-inch 'SDA' centre-dash infotainment screen, faux leather and fabric seats, a height adjustable passenger's seat, rear privacy glass, electric folding door mirrors, a leather-trimmed gear lever and a red accent for the front grille. The top 'First Edition' variant adds an array of safety and luxury equipment, including a Forward Collision Mitigation system, LED headlights, rear parking sensors, cruise control, heated front seats, climate control air conditioning and front fog lights. On to day to day running costs. Here's where the Mirage really gets into its stride. Yes, I'm aware that most superminis are pretty good in this regard, but it's often been the case that the less you spend on your supermini, the older and less efficient the engine is. It can indeed be a false economy to buy the cheapest car only to be saddled with mediocre fuel economy, poor emissions and a next to useless warranty. The Mirage counters with up to 56.5mpg on the WLTP combined cycle and 105g/km of NEDC-rated CO2 on the 14-inch wheels that come with base 'Verve' trim. It's 53.3mpg and 108g/km with the 'Design' and 'First Edition' models; or 50.4mpg and 106g/km with the 'Design' and 'First Edition' auto derivatives. In running cost terms, one thing you might be encouraged by as a potential buyer is the decently long five year warranty - though that's slightly spoiled by the brand's insistence on limiting it to 62,500 miles.
I was initially a little wary of the Mirage but once sampled, it's a car that's at once remarkably vice-free and intensely likeable. If Mitsubishi can get more people to realise quite how good it is, they could well have a sleeper hit on their hands.
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