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Mitsubishi refines Mirage for Oz

That’s better: Mitsubishi’s new Mirage has been given tweaks to make it more palatable for Australia’s demanding market.

Mirage light hatch gets Mitsubishi pre-launch upgrade for Australian customers

27 Aug 2012

MITSUBISHI’S new light car hope, the Mirage, has gone back to finishing school ahead of its Australian roll-out in January.

Australian motoring journalists who test-drove early Thai-spec production cars in Thailand in May were critical of several aspects of the five-door hatchback, especially its handling and plasticky interior.

But Mitsubishi Motors Australia head of product and market strategy Tony Principe said that the Mirage – a replacement for the now-defunct Colt – had been given “a lot of upgrading” in readiness for its Australian introduction.

He said the company had tested an Australian-specification Mirage around the streets of Sydney with four people aboard and been impressed with how it went.

Mr Principe said the test car had been equipped with the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT), which had handled the cut and thrust of Sydney traffic and hilly terrain well.

“There has been a substantial improvement on the cars driven in Thailand,” he said.

Back in May, journalists were told the early production Thai-spec cars lacked the stabiliser bars, ESC and ABS safety technologies, side airbags and sound insulation destined for the Australia-spec cars that are set to go into local showrooms in the third week of January.

The Mirage is being built for global markets in Thailand, where the Mirage reportedly has been a sell-out success.

Earlier this month, the Mirage went on sale in Japan, where it recorded the lowest fuel economy of any non-hybrid car – 3.7 litres per 100km.

However, Mr Principe cautioned that the Japanese model is powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine (Australia will get the 1.2-litre triple-cylinder powertrain) and that the Japanese JC08 fuel test is different to the Australian test.

The Mirage will be publicly revealed in Australia at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney on October 18, when the model line-up and pricing will be announced.

The target price for the Mirage base model is around $13,000, putting it in the ballpark against its main rival, the Indonesian-built 1.2-litre three-cylinder Nissan Micra ST ($13,490 plus on-road costs).

The Korean-sourced Holden Barina Spark starts at $12,490, the Indian-made 1.0-litre Suzuki Alto is $11,790 and the Malaysian-built Proton S16 sedan is $13,990 driveaway.

Australian-delivered Mirages will use a 1.2-litre three-cylinder producing 57kW at 6000rpm and 100Nm at 4000rpm, available with a five-speed manual or the CVT.

The Mirage is a vital new addition to the Mitsubishi range, giving the Adelaide-based importer much-needed firepower in the passenger car segment.

The company has just given its Lancer small car and ASX compact SUV a tweak to lift their appeal, and is preparing to launch an all-new Outlander medium SUV in the last quarter of this year.

Like the Mirage, the Outlander will be wheeled out at the Australian motor show inn October, although the flagship plug-in hybrid version will not arrive until the second quarter of 2013.

Mitsubishi will use the Sydney show to start building a sales order bank for both Outlander and Mirage.

The latter will go into production for Australia at the Thai plant in December, with about 600 units a month headed our way.

Mitsubishi’s previous light car, the 1.5-litre Colt, was on death row in Australia because of its lack of ESC, which became mandatory in Victoria on January 1 last year and then on new models launched across Australia from November, 2011.

Mitsubishi has been selling small numbers of Colts, clocking up 403 sales in the seven months to the end of July.

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