The Mirage as you know is perhaps the number one competitor to the Micra, as well as the Spark. I got a chance today to finally try out a Mirage. This one was the sedan model out of all of them. I was actually excited to be able to finally try a Mirage and see how it drives compared to the Micra.
The Mirage G4 sedan is an all new model for 2017. It is sold in both Canada and the US, as well as around the world. It's Mitsubishi's first North American market subcompact sedan in well over a decade. It is also probably the first sedan sold in Canada with a 3-cylinder non-turbo/non-hybrid engine since the 2nd generation Suzuki Swift/Geo Metro/Pontiac Firefly from the early 1990s!!!
Both the Mirage hatchback and sedan come with a 1.2L MIVEC DOHC 12-valve 3-cylinder engine producing 78 horsepower and 74 pound feet of torque. You can have it with either a 5 speed manual or a CVT. In modern car fashion, the automatic model (CVT) is more fuel efficient. The CVT model burns only 6.0L of gas per 100km combined, which is highly superior to the Micra and extremely fuel efficient. In fact the Micra feels thirsty compared to this car, and the Spark. The Mirage I think is the most fuel efficient car on the market that's not a hybrid or diesel.
The Mirage is sold for basically the same price as the Micra. However, you only get literally 3/4 of the engine in the Mirage, and most models have smaller 14" wheels. The interior fit and finish isn't as good as Nissan's. Now all cars in this price range and class have hard cheap plastics inside, that's to be expected however everything in the Mirage squeaked or moved when I touched it. The dash felt very hollow, basically like a drum when I tapped my hand on it. The sun visors felt extremely cheap and like they are going to break when I touched them. The driver visor gets a vanity mirror, but the passenger doesn't which is very weird to me. In most cars it's the other way around. The seats are very comfortable, not too much different from the Micra's, however I noticed the driver's seat only has a lumbar adjustment, no height adjust and I felt like the seat was a little too high for me in the Mirage.
In terms of features. This is where the Mirage shines. It offers some more comfort and conveniences such as available heated seats, push button digital automatic climate control (single zone), passive smart key entry with push button start (on hatchback model only), brake hold/hill start assist, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, slightly more interior space, the hatchback model also gets these beautiful looking LED headlamps in the SEL trim, all of these features are not available on the Micra. The Mirage also gets a more tech-forward CVT transmission with a Sport mode and it is a lot more efficient in delivering the engine's power to the wheels than Nissan's 4-speed slushbox. It's ironic because Nissan actually designed the CVT that goes in the Mirage, yet its own competing car doesn't use it.
Now in terms of the ride and handling, this is probably why most people would choose the Micra over the Mirage. They are two totally different beasts. The Micra is all about delivering a fast, fun and sporty ride, as it was "engineered on the track" as the advertisements say and it shows. It feels like a 370Z or GT-R compared to the Mirage.
That's not to say that the Mirage was a bad car to drive. I was very impressed by the comfort level in the car, and the soft suspension. Here in Newfoundland, our roads are basically nearly 3rd world country territory, with bumps and potholes galore. I really did appreciate the softer suspension of the Mirage over these bumps. The steering was responsive but numb and devoid of all feel. It does return to center though. Some reviews say the Mirage's steering stays where you point it. That's not the case with the one I drove. It was a very relaxing ride, but when you go around corners you really do have to slow down to the posted speed limits. The car felt like it was going to tip over if I was going 70-80km/h on a winding highway on-ramp, where the Micra would do it no problem and feel totally composed. Also there was a lot of road and tire noise in the Mirage. The Micra isn't too much different however.
And then there's the difference in power. The Micra even sometimes feels underpowered to me on the highway (mostly because of a lack of low-end torque and that dreaded 4 speed auto), so you can imagine how bad the Mirage must be. It takes 12-13 seconds for the Mirage to accelerate from 0-100km/h. When I was merging and going from 70-100km/h the engine started making a lot of noise as it reached up to 5000rpm and it was taking awhile to reach 100. But once I got to cruising speed I was pretty impressed again. I set the cruise control on and the revs dropped down to roughly 2200rpm at 105km/h. Once I got to a hill, you can see the tach needle slowly moving up, in other words the engine/CVT is gradually feeding more power to the wheels to tackle the hill. This is soooo much appreciated as with the Micra, when it goes out of overdrive and downshifts to 3rd gear, the revs shoot right up to 4k and it makes a whole lot of noise. I used to hate CVTs, but then I started driving them. I encourage everyone who has never driven a CVT to try one. I just recently tested a 2017 Honda Civic Sport hatch with the CVT and was highly impressed with it. I just love their smoothness! The Micra really needs that CVT!!!
And now for the engine. I was impressed by how smooth it was for a 3 banger. There was no vibration feedback in the steering wheel, pedals or shifter. I could feel a tiny bit of vibration in the seats though, especially at idle and especially when the A/C compressor/pump was engaged. But it wasn't much louder than the HR16DE Micra engine, in fact I think it may have been quieter in the lower rpms. Both engines make a lot of noise at high rpms though. But if you didn't know any better, driving around in the Mirage you wouldn't even notice it's a 3cyl. In terms of refinement, it is definitely a far cry from the old 55HP TBI Suzuki G10 3cyl engine in the Metro/Firefly/Swift most of us would be familiar with. It terms of the exhaust note, I prefer the note of a 3 cylinder over a 4 so I was enjoying this engine, but the old G10 sounded sportier. From idle to around 3000rpm the Mirage's engine's exhaust tone reminded me of those Kubota tractor diesel engines, lol. At high rpm 4500-6500 it sounds like an outboard motor engine. From around 3000-4500 is when it sounds the best.
Anyway in conclusion, the Mirage isn't as bad as journalists like to say it is. It's a cheap car. So is the Micra. With either car you get what you pay for. If you want tech and features, a smooth ride over bumps, and enormous fuel economy, you will buy the Mirage. If you prefer better styling/looks, driving dynamics and power, and don't care for gas mileage or tech/features you will buy the Micra. I have yet to try the Spark but I will let you know how that car compares to these cars.
I really wish we could get a 3 cylinder/CVT Micra!!!!