Three-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton happens to be known in facial hair circles for his chinstrap. He’s also very quick. The Mitsubishi Mirage gets more power and a big honkin’ chinstrap across the front in its 2017 refresh. Coincidence? I think not. Clearly, this car must go on a race track.
Everyone knows how jealous I am of Canada’s Micra Cup. Identical little hatchbacks duking it out in the cutest way possible? Yes, please. We don’t get Micras, though, but we get another subcompact in the same vein: the Mirage.
The Mirage will remain underpowered even compared to B-Spec cars, but now the use of a roller-type camshaft gives its 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine a bump up to 78 hp over its current 74, plus 74 lb-ft of torque. A manual transmission is still standard, just as it should be. (Sure, I like my Lancer’s CVT better than a regular slushbox, but come on: don’t.)
The company also claims that the sleeker, more refined looking body is more aerodynamic. Mitsubishi touts its use of lightweight components — the car’s curb weight is a mere 1,973 lbs — and a mere 0.27 coefficient of drag as features that will help with fuel economy, but we know what they’re really after: straight-line speed.
The Car That’s Saving Mitsubishi looks better than ever, and less like a penalty box made of fuschia Play-Doh this time around. Even I must admit that the current generation Mirage was a bit bland in the styling department, and I’m of the opinion that nearly anything that comes in neon colors with three pedals is good on principle.
A new hood, rear bumper, front fascia, taillights and alloy wheels make this refresh look like someone actually bothered to design the car this time. The angle of the rear spoiler was tweaked to reduce lift, and the side surface was revised to reduce drag. We recommend shoehorning a 4G63T into the hatch and taking it to a drag strip, but that’s just us.
If you’re more into racing with more turns involved, the new Mirage features larger brakes (although disappointingly, there’s still only discs in the front), improved shocks and revised suspension components that stiffen up the front end.
The interior even looks pretty good now, too. Of course, you should rip most of it out and install a roll cage, a pair of proper racing buckets (why only terrify yourself?) and harnesses, but until then, you should be a tad more comfortable than you would in the current model. A redesigned steering wheel, new seat fabrics, and refreshed console and dashboard make it look decidedly not terrible, at least in the press photos. Rental patrons, rejoice!
Mitusbishi’s happiest little peanut will also be the company’s first car in the United States to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with its optional 300-watt Rockford Fosgate system. Google Maps are accessible on the system, which means that you no longer have to fumble around with your phone to type out “Watkins Glen.”
While you don’t need audio in a race car (egads, the weight!), it’s always fun to whip out some Chas and Dave at full volume and pretend that you’re The Stig.
Now can we please finally get the Mirage Evo the world deserves? Build the company back up, then build that. Then resurrect Ralliart. Then get your butts back in the World Rally Championship.
In the meantime, throwing in a roll cage and sourcing adorably tiny 14” or 15” racing tires is all on you, America. Make us proud.
Here are some more detail shots of the car guaranteed to be the scourge of high school parking lots everywhere:
Needless to say, it’s a much needed refresh of a surprisingly important car for Mitsubishi’s continued existence in North America.
Pricing for the 2017 Mirage has not been released yet, but the company is not expecting to make any major changes from the previous model year.
Photo credits: Getty Images (Hamilton), Mitsubishi (all others)
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