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Mirage to spawn Mitsubishi sedan

Given the boot: Mitsubishi looks like it will introduce a sedan version of its newly-revealed Mirage light-sized hatchback.

Mitsubishi to cast a wider net with a Mirage sedan as well as hatchback

6 Dec 2011


MITSUBISHI is set to offer a sedan version of its just-unveiled Mirage, as it aims to lure new customers – including young families – to the brand.

Due in the last quarter of 2012 after production starts in Thailand early next year, the latest Mitsubishi light hatch has a target price of $15,000, to take on the likes of the Nissan Micra.

Speaking to GoAuto at the Tokyo motor show last week, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation design general manager Hiroaki Ohtsuka confirmed a Mirage sedan was in the pipeline to sell alongside the hatch, but that it was still some time away.

“(While the hatch) will appeal to younger buyers and females, the three-box will probably be for younger families,” he said.

“And I want to make a sedan that younger people will like. (Generally) the older people prefer sedans.”

Mr Ohtsuka revealed the Mirage was deliberately more conventionally designed than its one-box Colt predecessor to appeal to a much wider demographic.

He said the new model’s leading economy and environmental credentials meant targeting the greatest number of customers with the cleanest car possible was the most responsible thing for a car company to do from a corporate point of view.

21 center imageLeft: Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback. Below: Current Colt.

“We wanted more friendly looking themes that would be more accepted by a wider range of customers (unlike the Lancer-like nose grafted on European versions of the outgoing Colt) … and especially female customers,” he said.

“The overall direction is environmental conscience, and we can’t ignore this – so the design has to reflect this … the smaller car has to (embody) this.”

Meanwhile, Mr Ohtsuka said he backed away from the ‘one-box’ design of the Colt to improve visibility, manoeuvrability and safety, particularly in tight-congestion cities common across Asia, where the distant A-pillar treatment can create blind spots in certain circumstances.

“It’s OK to have a one-box design in places like Europe and the US where roads are wider, but in Asian markets where the roads are narrow visibility becomes more important,” he said.

“The old Colt had futuristic looks, which is good design … but going back to an older or more conservative design gives a more comfortable and safe feeling for our customers, and that is the direction we wanted to go.

“We’re responding to customer needs and we need to be conscious of what’s needed right now.”

At 3710mm long, 1665mm wide and 1490mm tall, the Mirage is smaller than its predecessor.

“This is what people want … something that is compact and very easy to drive,” Mr Ohtsuka said.

The newcomer is also expected to be significantly lighter as a result of a sustained weight-reduction program, though Mitsubishi has yet to divulge these measures.

“The direction we are going is compact and lightweight and good fuel economy, so aerodynamics becomes important in terms of design,” he said.

Along with attention to airflow properties around the frontal area (with headlights inspired by the eyes of small animals like a rodent, apparently) he said the curvature of the rear roofline area was one of the most satisfying elements of the new Mirage’s looks, which took three years to materialise from the first sketch to the final full clay model.

The Japanese designer cited the cigar-shaped Audi 100 of 1982, as well as the third-generation Audi 80 from 1986 to 1994, as influences that helped mould him as a stylist.

As we reported last month, an all-new 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with MIVEC variable valve timing, an idle-stop system, and continuously variable transmission (CVT) for a sub-3.4 litre per 100km fuel consumption average will be the mainstay powerplant globally.

However, a larger 1.2-litre version or even a 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit may yet be announced for Australia, though Mitsubishi will not confirm the engine line-up almost a year out from launch.

A full-electric edition is also expected by about 2014, as the company strives to offer electric or hybrid drive across its model range.

While the five-door Mirage is a departure from the successful CE three-door hatch of the same name sold in Australia from 1996 to 2004, the RB-RE series Colt that was manufactured in Adelaide from 1982 to 1989 was in fact the first global Mirage – and the model Mitsubishi states as inspiration for the reborn version because of its simple, practical and economical virtues.

Ironically Mirage could not be used locally when the Colt was launched in late 1980 because it sounded too similar to the short-lived Renault 12 Virage of the same era.

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