Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Shimmering ship of the desert

SHIMMERING through the haze of that latest British discovery — warm, summer sunshine * — came this week’s drive, the

SHIMMERING through the haze of that latest British discovery — warm, summer sunshine * — came this week’s drive, the Mitsubishi Mirage.

Just like the sunshine, which might seem alien to us all, the Mirage was no illusion. For the Japanese carmaker has created a new car it hopes is here to stay and one that will penetrate deeply into the world car market.

The Mirage is a brand new model that has been designed from the ground up and replaces the outgoing Colt. What was immediately striking on the top-of-the-range Mirage 3, the test car, was the buzzing willingness of its 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine.

The Mirage is powered by a new generation of lightweight petrol engines. For UK buyers there is a low-friction 1.0-litre on Mirage 1 and a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine for Mirages 2 and 3. Auto Stop and Go — when the engine stops automatically in traffic queues, for example, to conserve fuel — is standard on the 1.2-litre engine.

The willingness to perform of this three-cylinder engine cannot be underestimated. It makes a rasping noise as you accelerate and never seems to tire. I think this engine to me was the most impressive feature on the new Mirage. The true efficiency of this engine is helped along by the equally impressive lightweight body.

The car also has a three-bar “Eco Drive Assist” indicator which tells the driver how economically the vehicle is being driven based on current fuel consumption and vehicle speed. A bonus for drivers to offset spiralling motoring costs is that the whole Mirage range produces a maximum of 100g/km CO2 emissions, which means every model is exempt from road tax.

The design is clean and clear so the overall impact of the car, I think, is one of a model with a distinct European feel to it. You can see where Mitsubishi is going with the Mirage and other new cars in its range — for example, the New Outlander — to produce greener, lighter and more efficient models that appeal to a wider customer base.

With safety paramount in smaller cars, Mitsubishi emphasises Mirage’s “safe” construction: it is built, the carmaker says, using Mitsubishi’s “Rise” safety body design — Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution — using “strong monocoque structure made from ultra-high tensile steel”.

To this end, the Mirage’s body is designed to ensure maximum crash protection from all angles and directs impact forces away from the occupants. The idea is that while the car will sustain accident damage passengers will “remain within a steel safety cell”.

Mirage, says Mitsubishi, has the highest collision safety among its class in Japan.

Figures released this week show that Mitsubishi is doing well in Britain in 2013, with sales running almost 50 per cent ahead of last year.

Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that during May, Mitsubishi in the UK sold 24 per cent more new vehicles than it did in the same month last year. In total this year, sales of Mitsubishi passenger vehicles here are up 49 per cent on the same period last year.

Mirage is an all-new model being produced at a new factory in Thailand with the world market as its target. I think this car, with its clever three-cylinder petrol engines, good internal space and clean looks can only help to consolidate Mitsubishi’s UK sales into next year.

* The price range of the new Mirage is from £8,999 to £12,999. The car comes with the following features:

* Driver’s SRS front airbag

* Passenger’s SRS front airbag with cut-off switch

* Active stability control (ASC) with traction control

* Brake assist system

* Engine immobiliser

* Three-year/unlimited mileage warranty with pan-European roadside assistance

By Nigel Wigmore

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