Remember when owning a Mitsubishi meant you either had a hardcore off-road Montero or a turbocharged, Fast & Furious inspired Eclipse? Everyone from Paul Walker and Jackie Chan to performance fanatics and drag racers were buying up cars from the rally-inspired Japanese automaker, and for the most part they were pretty good. This was the company that produced the twin-turbo, all-wheel drive, V6-equipped 3000GT VR4, after all.
But the once all-mighty Japanese automaker fell on hard times, and as the Eclipse rapidly became a shadow of its former self and the Lancer Evolution got earmarked for execution, people began to wonder what the red diamond badged brand would do to maintain its foothold in America. The redesigned Outlander is a far superior entity than ever before, but isn’t that the point of automotive evolution? Mitsubishi has been desperate to find a new hit with consumers, and try as it might, the Japanese underdog has floundered on virtually every front. So what has it done? Released a spruced up economy sedan in the hopes of saving its skin.
According to Mitsubishi, the all-new Mirage G4 is designed to bring consumers “a fresh dose of clean style, environmental consciousness, agility, connectivity, affordability, and value.” Set to go on sale this spring all across America, this pint-sized revision is without question inexpensive and comes with an outstanding warranty, so it certainly has some attractive selling points working in its favor over the outgoing model. Mitsubishi Motors of North America executive vice president Don Swearingen explains the reasoning behind the move toward improving the Mirage.
A few years ago we entered the subcompact segment with the Mirage hatchback and its popularity with consumers has grown every year with its combination of top fuel economy, attractive pricing, and one of the industry’s best new car warranties. The new Mirage G4 repeats that value equation in a four-door sedan package. The Mirage hatchback and now the Mirage G4 sedan will form a formidable one-two punch in the subcompact segment.
“Formidable” may not be the first word that comes to mind, as the Mirage has never been known for performance handling and packs a slightly revised 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that is just as undersized as the wheels and tires on the vehicle. Mitsubishi’s decision to utilize this minuscule motor was intended to provide what it calls “a harmonious blend of lively acceleration and efficiency,” as it aims to take the top spot in its class, both in combined fuel economy and C02 emissions.
Inside the cabin, the Mirage G4’s longer wheelbase makes it more spacious than before, and comes equipped with available smartphone integration, support for Apple CarPlay, as well as Android Auto connectivity. Judging by the pictures provided and our personal interactions with the vehicle at the 2016 New York International Auto Show, we do agree that this version of the Mirage is by all accounts an upgrade over the outgoing model. But is it the golden ticket for the ailing automaker?
People have indeed bought quite a few Mirages over the years, not just because they are cheap, but because they have good warranties. The Mirage G4 features a series of even more impressive warranties too, starting with a fully transferable five-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty. It also comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty, a seven-year/100,000-mile anti-corrosion perforation limited warranty, and five years of unlimited roadside assistance.
But is the revision of a poorly ranked economy car going to be enough to put Mitsubishi back on track? It’s going to have to sell a hell of a lot of these things in order to make a healthy profit, and with the outgoing model remaining the lowest scoring car overall according to Consumer Reports, Mitsubishi sure has its work cut out for it. We sure hope this new model sells well; that way, Mitsubishi can get back to doing what it does best: making performance all-wheel drive cars built for enthusiasts.