Long-time readers of the Base Camp series (thanks, both of you) will know this series puts a focus on the entry-level trims of vehicles that are popular in Canada. One segment on which we haven’t spent much time, oddly, is the entry-level market itself, primarily populated by small hatchbacks.
There used to be several players in this niche, but many companies have abandoned their efforts in a bid to chase profits higher up the food chain. Mitsubishi remains entrenched, planting both feet firmly in this end of the pool by giving its littlest car, the Mirage, a fresh new face for launch in the first quarter of the 2021 calendar year.
Under the hood is a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine making 78 horsepower and roughly a like amount of torque. While that doesn’t sound like a lot – and it isn’t – it’s worth recalling the Mirage seems to weigh about the same as your author’s pet cat. This contributes to stellar fuel economy, better than 6.0-litre / 100 km on the highway and good enough for Mitsu to claim the car as Canada’s most fuel-efficient non-hybrid gasoline-fueled vehicle.
For the 2020 model year, the company introduced automatic climate control to each trim, meaning the base ES, with its $12,298 price tag, has a feature absent in vehicles costing thousands more. Power front windows, audio controls on a height adjustable steering wheel, and a Bluetooth-enabled infotainment system with USB inputs prove that base model entry-level cars are no longer the bare bones penalty boxes of yore.
Spying a base model Mirage is simple as spotting its 14-inch steel wheels, though their P165/65/R14 size certainly keeps a lid on costs come replacement time. Those are colour-keyed door handles and power side mirrors, meaning the days of unlovely black plastic bumpers and other exterior trim advertising your penny-pinching purchase decisions are long gone. Mirage is also offered in a trio of no charge bright shades of paint, including the Infrared shown here.
What We’d Choose
At this price point, it’s never a bad idea to consider options from the lightly-used side of a dealer’s lot, since vehicles in this category that are a year or two old may offer a strong value proposition in terms of size and feature count. However, there is something to be said for being a car’s first owner – you know exactly how it’s been treated, the maintenance history, and one gets to enjoy the effervescent new car smell.
Mitsubishi also offers a huge warranty, covering major powertrain components for up to a decade after you drive one of their cars off the showroom floor. This is no small consideration for a person who simply wants to enjoy their car without having to worry about shelling out for major repairs any time soon.