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New Mitsubishi’s Mileage No Mirage

With new 3-cylinder engine, maker targeting 44 mpg.

by on Mar.29, 2013

Mitsubishi looks to make inroads into the U.S. market with the 2014 Mirage.

Struggling Mitsubishi has had a hard time getting onto consumer radar screens in recent years, but it’s betting that potential buyers will pay attention to the news that its new small car is rated at 44 miles per gallon.

And that’s no mirage. Or, wait a second, yes it is, the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage. Targeting subcompact competitors like the Ford Fiesta, the new Japanese offering is making its debut at the New York International Auto Show this week.

The Last Word!

The Mitsubishi Mirage will offer a new 74-horsepower 1.2-liter inline-three engine paired with a five-speed manual engine. There’s also an optional CVT. And, yes, that’s three cylinders – a layout we haven’t seen much of in the U.S. market in recent years.

The good news is that for those who remember older versions, like those used by General Motors’ forgotten GEO division, the modern I-3 is a very different beast. Using computer controls and technology, such as balance shafts, makers can significantly reduce noise and vibration while also boosting performance without hurting mileage.

Ford is also delivering an I-3-powered Fiesta with a turbo to maximize performance. Perhaps the bigger surprise is that BMW plans to go with an I-3, as well, initially in its sporty i8 plug-in hybrid.

Also aided by special design tweaks meant to improve aerodynamics – such as a rear spoiler –the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage will deliver an EPA-rated 37 mpg in the city, 44 on the highway and 40 combined. That’s with the CVT. The manual is slightly lower.

With mileage the top issue for most U.S. buyers these days, Mitsubishi hopes those numbers will garner some attention, but the maker is also boasting that Mirage will come with an unusually long list of standard features, including seven airbags, brake assist, electronic traction control, power windows, keyless entry, automatic climate control and a 140-watt MP3 audio system.

The 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage is sized about evenly between the Mazda2 and the smaller Chevrolet Spark. Set to reach market in the coming autumn, it will be offered only in a five-passenger, five-door hatchback configuration. Pricing has not yet been announced.

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