New models - Mitsubishi - Mirage
First local drive: Reborn Mitsubishi Mirage materialises
Mitsubishi re-enters booming local baby-car segment with all value guns blazing
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22 Jan 2013
MITSUBISHI aims to be a top-six light-car player in Australia with its reborn Mirage light car and has geared up for at least 1000 sales a month.
Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd vice-president for customer and brand, Paul Unerkov, declared the Thai-built five-door hatchback as the most competitive entry-level model in the company’s 33-year history in Australia.
Mr Unerkov said the newcomer’s combination of price, value, space and ease of use will place it among the Toyota Yaris, Mazda2, Hyundai i20, Holden Barina, Suzuki Swift, Ford Fiesta, Nissan Micra and Kia Rio.
Sales of 12,000 units a year would be more than six times greater than the car’s Colt predecessor managed on average from 2004-2012, and more than double the CE-series Mirage’s average over its 1996-2004 run.
Mr Unerkov said that MMAL’s hands were tied with the Colt because – unlike the latest Mirage – it was never engineered for a $12,990 price point.
Colt was a nameplate with heritage in Australia dating back 33 years to the first mainstream front-wheel-drive Japanese small cars, but MMAL decided against using the badge again.
“Mirage is a smaller car than the Colt,” said Mr Unerkov. “That name wouldn’t have been right because the Colt was never a $12,990 car.”
The final Colt was priced at $16,490 – some $3500 more than the new Mirage.
As MMAL announced just before Christmas, the Mirage is subject to special driveaway prices until the end of January, including an additional $1000 gift voucher from a major retailer.
Nevertheless, while value pricing and low running costs have been identified as the leading motivator for most consumers in the light-car segment, Mitsubishi research suggests it is closely followed by sex appeal/styling, fun, A-B transportation ease, safety and fuel economy.
The company expects the base ES model and mid-range Sport to each account for about 30 per cent of sales, with the range-topping LS accounting for 40 per cent.
About 60 per cent of orders are expected to be for the automatic.
Other demographics include an expected 66 per cent female uptake, 40 per cent of buyers being under 35 years old (and the same amount over 50), private purchasers making up 67 per cent of the total, with 91 per cent being metro-based.
Most are expected to be first-time new-car consumers (with no kids and working part-time) as well as full-time students and retirees.
Brand affiliation is expected to be nonexistent, so the company hopes Mirage will sow the seeds of loyalty for future purchases.
MMAL does not expect supply constraints out of its Thailand facility, even though initial sales in that country as well as Japan have exceeded forecasts.
Following criticism from Australian journalists after visiting the Chonburi facility and driving early-build examples last year, MMAL embarked on a product improvement regime for the LA-series Mirage.
Subsequent changes include the fitment of a front anti-roll bar, higher-grade seat trim, two-tone cabin colouring and more sound-deadening material.
ANCAP will announce the Mirage’s crash-test rating next month, but an MMAL spokesperson said it had been engineered to be a safety leader with improved vision from thin A-pillars and a low belt-line.
At 865kg, the Mirage is even lighter than the Suzuki Alto (880kg), Volkswagen Up (913kg), Micra (965kg) and Spark (967kg).
Driving the front wheels is a new transverse-mounted 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine delivering 57kW of power at 6000rpm and 100Nm of torque at 4000rpm.
It is one of the most economical non-hybrid petrol models available, achieving an official combined fuel economy figure of just 4.6 litres per 100km with the standard five-speed manual, or 4.9L/100km with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Only Suzuki’s 1.0-litre three-cylinder Alto betters the bigger Mirage, by just 0.1L/100km.
Electric rack-and-pinion steering aids efficiency and achieves a leading 9.2-metre turning circle, the front suspension consists of MacPherson struts and coil springs, and a torsion beam axle is fitted at the rear.
Equipment levels include the mandatory electronic stability control that curtailed the preceding Colt from being sold in some states late in its life, front, side and curtain airbags, air-conditioning, remote central locking, Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming, USB and auxiliary connectivity, and a leather-bound steering wheel with audio and phone controls.
Auto models also score the advantage of Hill-Start Assist.
Sport models gain alloy wheels (still 14-inch), four instead of two audio speakers, and a roof spoiler.
The range-topping LS gets better interior materials, 15-inch alloys, foglights, automatic headlights and wipers, climate-control air-conditioning and push-button start.
Mitsubishi provides its usual five-year/130,000km warranty on the Mirage, with 15,000km service intervals and the first five coming under a $250 fixed-price plan.
Speculation is rife that a turbocharged in-line three-pot ‘warm’ hatch may be on the horizon, a four-door sedan is believed to be on the drawing board for 2014, and a super-frugal sub-100g/km petrol-electric hybrid has also been bandied about in the media.
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