Mitsubishi’s budget-focused Mirage has emerged victorious over Drive’s long-time Car of the Year city car champion, the Volkswagen Polo.
Against the judging criteria Mitsubishi’s Mirage was unanimously found to tick all the boxes – and for a considerably smaller sum than that of the German five-door.
The Mirage is priced from just $12,990 plus on-road costs, though the Japanese brand is currently doing deals from only $11,990 drive-away. That’s pretty hard to argue with, given the comfort, practicality and equipment offered in the pint-sized Mirage.
Judges praised the Mirage for its ride comfort, its light, city-friendly steering and small turning circle, the fact it’s fitted with the full complement of safety equipment (six airbags, stability control), its Bluetooth-equipped stereo system, and the thrifty and perky three-cylinder engine. The ES model we tested was fitted with the CVT automatic transmission (priced from $14,490, plus on-road costs), and judges praised the pairing as being “ideal for running around the ‘burbs”.
“The Mirage meets all the requirements for not a lot of money,” one judge stated.
It wasn’t all roses for the Mirage – its interior presentation was criticised for being drab and lacking attention to detail, and the amount of engine noise was questioned by some of our experts.
“It looks a bit cheap inside, and you can tell it has been built to a price,” one judge said.
But in the end it was found to offer a convincing package that has strong ownership credentials on its side, including four years of fixed price servicing (at just $250 per 15,000km/12 month visit), and a five-year, 130,000km warranty.
There’s no doubting the carryover champion, Volkswagen’s Polo 77TSI, is a polished and impressive car. But at $21,490 plus on-road costs it’s heading into territory occupied by bigger – and, frankly, better – vehicles. VW Australia is currently running a $21,490 drive-away deal for the dual-clutch automatic version we tested.
Our judges were again impressed by the refined nature of the VW, from its smooth 1.2-litre turbo four-cylinder engine to its comfortable ride and trusty steering. It may be small but it feels like a bigger, more mature car to drive.
The engine does require premium unleaded fuel, though, and the dual-clutch automatic isn’t without its quirks – and question marks. The impressively low fuel economy largely covers that off, although the Mirage is lower again.