November 12, 2012
To me, the design of the Mirage is on the safe side. It is not adventurous but also not boring to look at as well. However, the conventionally styled door handles seem like they are grabbed from the leftovers from the 90's. It's no doubt compact on the outside, thus, parking would be the easiest thing to do in the Mirage as the steering is also light, good all-round visibility and the side mirrors are well sized. One thing though, the gear lever is very easy to operate, even a kick from a toddler can change its position, but can be easily pushed into the wrong slot because of this too.
With a wheelbase of 2450mm, the cabin space might look small on paper, but I can confirm that the rear can fit two passengers with relatively adequate leg and headroom, 3 would be a squeeze. But as you can see from the picture below, the rear seats are fitted with 3 headrest and a 3-point seatbelt for the middle passenger, sometimes quite rare in its class. The boot space is actually not bad for a compact car, with the boot floor deep enough to fit in tall items.
While the plastics used for the cabin are uninspiring, the cabin is filled with plenty of storage compartments and nice touches such as the uniquely designed air-cond outlets at the centre of the dashboard.The Mirage I tested was the top range Mirage GS which comes with extra features such as front fog lights, push start with keyless entry and automatic climate control. The 2-Din audio system is compatible with USB and iPod.
The brief driving acknowledged me that the Mirage is not for spirited driving. The 1.2 litre engine, which produces a humble 78 PS at 6000rpm and 100Nm of torque at 4000rpm, might struggle when the Mirage is with full load, but was refined when travelling in a relaxed pace. Thankfully the light weight body of around 825kg and 0.29cD of drag coefficient helped the rather low on performance, but high in fuel efficiency engine. Also, with the help of a INVEST-III CVT gearbox, the Mirage manage to get 22km/l of fuel economy. You will notice that the Mirage uses a CVT gearbox on the very first moment you step onto the accelerator, but the car accelerates smoother than a national car sedan which uses CVT as well.
While the steering is on the light side with very little feedback, at least it is direct and turns to wherever you wanted to go accurately. Body roll was apparent but controlled, and ride comfort was acceptable with its average stiffness suspension setup. Like I said, the Mirage is more suitable to be driven in a relaxed pace.
Priced from RM56,000-RM64,000, the Mirage is priced slightly on the high side I would say. However, safety features like ABS, EBD and dual airbags are standard across the range. I expected the Mirage to be priced within the price range of a Hyundai i10 or Suzuki Alto due to their size and engine displacement, but looks like the Mirage is going to compete with the Suzuki Swift which has better handling, comfort and performance (but slightly more expensive too). Despite all these, the Mirage will appeal to the youngers generation as well as fresh graduates because it is cheap to run.
*Update: A reader has informed me that she is getting a Mirage after reading this review! It proves that the Mirage appeals to those who are not obsessive with speed, but into fuel efficiency.
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