The UKs new Mirage, which is known as the Space Star in many other European markets

The UK's new Mirage, which is known as the Space Star in many other European markets

Speaking at the launch of the Mirage A-segment hatchback, Mitsubishi UK managing director Lance Bradley said that brand sales were up 105% in February, and have averaged a 56% rise YoY for Q1.

Bradley believes the Mirage will exceed his sales expectations (4,000-4,500 cars annually) thanks to class leading fuel economy of 68.9mpg as well as no VED thanks for the low CO2 number of 95-100g/km. The rival Chevrolet Spark has a CO2 average of 119g/km, Bradley points out. He also notes dealers reporting that not having to pay a road tax fee makes customers especially attracted to the Mirage, even though the VED is minimal on all A-segment cars.

Performance, while not a priority of potential Mirage buyers, is strong, thanks to the light weight and streamlined styling of the new model. Mitsubishi claims a 112mph top speed for the 1.2-litre manual, which is 10mph more than the Chevy Spark 1.2.

As for roominess, the Mirage has a far larger boot than the Colt that it replaces (235 litres versus 186). This also beats the Spark, Kia Picanto and Suzuki Splash but with 265 cubic litres, the Nissan Micra trumps the new Mitsubishi.

A new, third Thai plant at Laem Chabang builds the Mirage for the UK and all other markets, whereas the Colt was manufactured in Japan (Okazaki) and the Netherlands (Born). While the Dutch-made car came with a diesel option for many years, the Mirage is available exclusively with petrol engines.

One feature which not all rivals have is an automatic option. This is the Jatco CVT7 (JF015E) unit, which is optional in European markets but standard in Thailand and Japan.

In April 2012, Mitsubishi Motors' Canadian importer stated that it would launch a 'small car' in early 2013. This has now been delayed to September, with a preview having been displayed at the Montreal auto show in January. This car had no model name and was modified with a longer nose and the 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine. Mitsubishi Motors Canada referred to it as 'a new subcompact'.

A month after the announcement of the car for North America came news that Mitsubishi Motors' Brazilian partner, Souza Ramos Group, would add build of the Mirage, ASX and Lancer at an existing plant at Catalão in the state of Goiás.

Most recently, Mitsubishi stated earlier on 22 March that it will expand exports from its Thai production base to 340,000 vehicles per annum. The company is investing THB 1 billion (USD 33 million) to lift its production capacity for the Mirage by 50,000 units a year to 150,000.

Author: Glenn Brooks

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