Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we'll let you know. If not, we'll recommend one - or the required options - that earns a passing grade.
Believe it or not, there are still a few subcompact economy-minded hatchbacks for sale in Canada today. The market used to be awash with the things, with companies like GM and Hyundai offering dirt cheap wheels with the benefit of a new-car warranty. Now, they’re scarce on the ground – but some remain.
Like the 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage. Occupying a rapidly shrinking segment of cars whose sticker price starts with a ‘1’, the little Mirage is offered in hatchback form for this model year in Canada. It is, as a friend of your author once astutely noted, a perfectly fine example of “one unit of personal transportation”. Starting at $14,098, the ’22 Mirage ES has a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine under its hood, good for 78 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque. This least-expensive Mirage is the only one offered with a five-speed manual transmission; all other trims get an automatic.
Little 14-inch tires keep a lid on replacement costs, and a rear window wiper permits a clear view astern even in foul weather. The latter is something which cannot be said for more expensive machines like the base model Toyota Corolla Cross. Door handles and power side mirrors are body colour, LEDs pop up on the tail lamps, and a hill start assist helps prevent new drivers from rolling back into the car behind them. Irritatingly, Mitsu only offers two colours on this trim, and this Titanium Grey is the only zero dollar option.
While cars like the Mirage occupy a certain stratum in the automotive arena, they are far from the penalty boxes of even just a few short years ago. Not only is air conditioning standard, for example, but it is of the automatic climate control variety. There are USB inputs for the audio system, Bluetooth connectivity, and a steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake. Niceties such as height adjustable front seatbelts are equipped to this affordable car, which means it has a feature that recent (and expensive) GM half-ton pickup trucks lacked.
What We'd Choose
If you’re seeking a Mirage hatchback, it’s almost silly to spend more than is necessary. Even the base trim comes with the likes of automatic air conditioning, and it’s not like splashing out on a higher trim nets more horsepower. We will also note the manual transmission, while fun to operate in a small economy hatchback like this one, returns slightly worse fuel economy than the automatic. Opting for the auto is a $1,200 proposition and it would likely take over 200,000km of driving – based on today’s fuel prices – to break even.
There’s a place in the pecking order for cars like the Mirage. Some customers desire a strong new car warranty but don’t want to break the bank, while others are content with driving “one unit of personal transportation”. Either way, it seems