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Tokyo show: Mitsubishi Mirage light car reborn

Seeing is believing: It is a Mirage, but it’s the real thing – Mitsubishi’s all-new Colt replacement remains true to the Global Small concept and will resurrect the Mirage nameplate worldwide.

Mitsubishi abandons Colt nameplate as ‘Global Small’ becomes all-new 2012 Mirage

10 Nov 2011

MITSUBISHI will reintroduce a Mirage to Australia in around 12 months’ time with the announcement in Japan overnight that its new-generation light car developed under the ‘Global Small’ program will drop the Colt nameplate.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd (MMAL) has confirmed that the reborn Mirage is due for release here in the final quarter of 2012.

The redesigned Mitsubishi light car will be unveiled at the Tokyo motor show on November 30 and go into production in Thailand early next year.

MMAL abandoned the nameplate here in 2004 in favour of the Colt, a slow-selling model that is about to be discontinued across Australia, leaving Mitsubishi without an entrant in the popular light-car segment for almost a year.

The Japanese auto giant will also use the Tokyo motor show to display a second-generation version of its PX-MiEV concept, which previews the forthcoming redesigned Outlander compact SUV.

MMAL has confirmed to GoAuto the new Outlander should be released Down Under in the first half of 2013, with both conventional engines and a plug-in hybrid powertrain previewed in the show car.

Despite the continuing flood crisis in Thailand that has disrupted vehicle production and delayed global model launches from other manufacturers, including Honda with its new Civic, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) said this week the Mirage is still on schedule to enter production in March at its new plant at Laem Chabang in Chonburi, about 100km south-east of Bangkok.

21 center imageLeft: Mitsubishi Mirage. Below: Global Small.

MMAL head of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher told us that Australia was in line to receive the new Mirage after its introduction in the Thai and Japanese markets, meaning a fourth-quarter 2012 launch.

“The name has been changed by our parent company in Japan to Mirage and that’s basically because this vehicle does tap in to some of the essence of the previous Mirage,” Ms Fletcher said.

“It really is focused on reduced emissions, reduced consumption it will be a very economical car yet still very practical.”

Ms Fletcher said the previously confirmed full-electric version developed as part of the Global Small program was expected to arrive in Australia soon after launch.

“I believe that it might be a little after launch,” she said.

“We see EVs and hybrid electric vehicles as just another standard part of each of our vehicle line-ups as they come through, so the ultimate goal will to be to launch a range of vehicles including an EV variant.”

Ms Fletcher added that, with Mirage being the first example of an electrified version slotting into the mainstream range, “it may not happen at exactly the same time (at launch) but it shouldn’t be too far off.”

Mirage will be launched globally with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine featuring MIVEC variable valve timing and an idle-stop system, as seen in the Global Small concept.

Specific outputs are still to be divulged, but the engine will drive the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and has a combined-cycle fuel consumption ‘target’ equivalent to just 3.33L/100km.

MMC said the class-leading (for Japan) fuel efficiency was achieved through a variety of measures, including “painstaking reduction in weight throughout almost every part of the car, reduction in rolling resistance and higher efficiency through detailed improvements to the engine, transmission, brakes and tyres (165/65R14), and an aerodynamic body that reduces air resistance and drag”.

Ms Fletcher said other drivetrains were also under consideration for Australia.

As GoAuto has reported, these include the recently announced ‘4J10’ 1.8-litre SOHC MIVEC engine that produces 102kW of power at 6000rpm and 172Nm of torque at 4200rpm, and could provide the basis of a hot-hatch variant of the new light series.

The current Australian Colt relies on a 77kW/141Nm 1.5-litre engine and is capable of 5.6L/100km with a CVT.

Mitsubishi revealed its new-generation light car only as a five-door, but other body styles, including a three-door, are expected.

Basic specifications include 3710mm in overall length and 1665mm width, which prove the new model to be smaller than the current Colt (3900mm long and 1680mm wide).

The sleeker and sportier design of the new-generation Mirage compared to the tall-boy Colt is also reflected in the Mirage’s 1490mm height, down 60mm on the current model.

The Colt has not been available in Victoria this year due to regulations requiring the fitment of electronic stability control on all passenger vehicles with compliance plates dated from January 1, 2011.

From November 1, all new-model vehicles across Australia must have ESC fitted, but current models remain exempt until November 2013.

Despite that exemption, the Colt is no longer being imported to Australia and only a limited number of vehicles remain in showrooms.

“The Colt has been with us for many years ... however, that vehicle never really did reach the volume expectations that we had for it,” said Ms Fletcher.

“There are still some stocks of the vehicle, I believe, but that will be discontinued over the next couple of months.

“We don’t see that as being an issue at all because the vehicle itself has never been a high-volume vehicle.”

The latest VFACTS figures show that Mitsubishi has sold 932 Colts this year, down slightly on last year and miles behind rivals such as the segment-leading Mazda2 (14,651 YTD) and Toyota Yaris (12,815).

In 2003, the last full year that Mirage was on sale in Australia, Mitsubishi sold 6661 examples of the light hatchback.

Ms Fletcher said the new Mirage would provide MMAL with a significant boost in sales volume and, like other models in its range, would be positioned as a well-equipped vehicle with a competitive price.

“We do believe that this vehicle will be quite popular here and we believe that it will have quite a reasonable share of the segment,” she said.

“It’s going to be competitive in that segment, but also a quality vehicle – it’s not your cheap-and-cheerful – at a competitive price, similar to ASX, Lancer, etc.”

Mitsubishi describes the Mirage’s design as being focused on “compactness, affordability and high fuel efficiency in order to fit the needs of emerging markets as an affordable entry-level model as well as needs of advanced markets for fuel efficiency and low-CO2 emission”.

It also claims the Mirage features “good manoeuvrability and easy drivability inherent to a compact car while also providing a comfortable interior space for five adults”.

The company said the Mirage nameplate originally represented savings in resources, energy and space but with high performance in a compact package.

This new Mirage is meant to “inherit the essence of that first series” – that is, “cleverly getting the most performance and function out of a limited space”.

As GoAuto has reported, Malaysian car-maker Proton will also benefit from its version of the new-generation Mirage under a product and component-sharing deal announced in September.

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