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Mitsubishi’s super-frugal Mirage hits Japan

Efficient: Light weight, slippery aerodynamics and a three-cylinder engine give the Mitsubishi Mirage low fuel consumption without resorting to a complex hybrid drivetrain.

Hybrid-like economy for Japanese Mitsubishi Mirage as Oz counts down to launch

2 Aug 2012

MITSUBISHI’S new Thai-built Mirage light car has gone on sale in Japan with hybrid-bashing fuel consumption as low as 3.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the Japanese JC08 test cycle and an opening price equivalent to less than $12,200.

The Mirage hatchback will be a vital product for Mitsubishi Motors Australia when it arrives here in the New Year with a target entry price of $13,000 plus on-road costs and a more powerful engine under the bonnet.

In Japan the most frugal Mirage will not be the price leader, as this does without fuel-saving idle-stop technology and aerodynamic enhancements, resulting in a higher Japanese fuel consumption figure of 4.3L/100km.

Mirages fitted with idle-stop are claimed to be the most economical non-hybrid petrol cars available in Japan and qualify for the Japanese government’s “eco-car” tax breaks.

The incentive exempts them from acquisition and motor vehicle tax on purchase, while the less-efficient base variant gets a 75 per cent tax discount.

Japanese market Mirages use a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine producing 51kW of power at 6000rpm and 86Nm of torque at 5000rpm, sold exclusively with an automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT).

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

21 center imageLeft: Japanese-spec Mitsubishi Mirage.

This unit is expected to return Australian combined cycle fuel consumption close to the 4.2L/100km achieved by the lighter, more sparsely equipped Thai-market Mirages that use the same powerplant.

Although the figures suggest the 1.2-litre unit is more economical than the 1.0-litre engine without idle-stop, the Japanese test cycle centres on driving in urban congestion whereas the Australian ADR81/02 combined cycle simulates a mixture of city, freeway and country driving.

Key to the Mirage’s fuel efficiency is its sub-900kg weight, combined with aerodynamics that are claimed to result in a drag coefficient as low as 0.27.

The Mirage has been a sales success in Thailand and Mitsubishi was forced to increase the rate of production just weeks after deliveries began. More than 33,000 orders have been taken since books opened on March 28.

In Japan, more than 5000 Mirages have already pre-ordered since June 26 and Mitsubishi has set a sales target of 30,000 units for its domestic market by the end of its fiscal year ending on March 31.

The Australian market is expected to take between 600 and 650 Mirages per month, providing a significant volume boost and an extra half-per cent market share for Mitsubishi compared with the slow-selling Colt it will replace.

Australian Mirage buyers will have a choice of two variants, each equipped with six airbags, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, three-point seatbelts all round and rear head restraints.

Three trim levels are available in Japan, starting with the entry-level E that comes with driver and passenger airbags, ABS brakes, remote keyless entry and a treated windscreen to reduce ultraviolet and infra-red radiation.

Mid-spec M gains electric folding door mirrors, ‘ground effect’ aerodynamic additions, an extension of the UV/IR treated glass to the front door windows and rear privacy glass.

The flagship G adds keyless start, an engine immobiliser, automatic headlights and silver interior trim highlights.

M and G variants also get an ‘Eco Drive’ driver-coaching system that encourages economical driving.

The Mirage’s main rival in Australia will be the Indonesian-built Nissan Micra, which is priced from $13,490 for the 1.2-litre ST, which is less economical at 5.9L/100km.

Other price rivals include the South Korean-sourced Holden Barina Spark (from $12,490) and Indian-made Suzuki Alto (from $11,790), both of which are thirstier than the Mirage.

Mitsubishi has confirmed the Mirage will be available in Australia with its five-year Diamond Advantage warranty and capped-price servicing.

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