Mirage vs Prius C review
So as an owner of '14 Toyota Prius C I had a chance to drive '15 Mitsubishi Mirage for 400mi, and to be honest I am impressed with 'lil jelly-bean! So I decided to sit down and write a short review/comparo, for the sake of people who might be looking for budget commuter. Suppose for unbiased review there should be Spark, Fiesta, Mazda2 etc. Not today though.
So here we go: the comparison based on cheapest Mirage model (DE manual) and almost cheapest Prius C two.
*** Updated ***
Both are very comparable in features. Mirage is missing automatic transmission (who needs it anyways, manual is more fun to drive), Bluetooth ($200 option), cruise control and height adjustment on driver seat. Both have A/C, automatic climate control, more or less decent radio (more about it later), power windows/locks and keyless entry.
Both sizes very similar. EPA volume (87 vs 86), trunk (17 vs 17.2), leg/knee/shoulder room, etc. The seat design follows different philosophy (Prius C seats are bucket and Mirage flat and firm) but they good enough in their own way. Since both are very much a purpose commuters (o'k Mirage is also college/high school kid car) it is very unlikely someone will be spending more then a couple hours a time in them anyways. The height adjustable front in Prius C may be a better choice for really short <5' but Mirage's driver seat is just fine for reasonably sized guy or gal. The flat open seat on jellybean looks like it can accommodate more different sizes and shapes, but I know "big" people who find Prius C seats are fine.
Rear seat on Mirage is broad and flat. Thanks to low rear roof line Prius C has really deep buckets, and if your college friend fell asleep drunk, he will find backseat in Prissy uncomfortable and Mirage's backseat welcoming.
There is more knee room in front in Prius C, and the bin in dash above steering wheel is great for stashing cellphone, earnings, ponytail clips, etc. Steering wheel is 2-way adjustable (only height on Mirage). Prius C has phone, radio and climate controls on steering wheel, and Mirage does not. There is no cruise control on Mirage, but how often you'd need while commuting?
Radios are "basic" and would likely benefit from better speakers. On Prius C they were horrid out of the dealership, but after 40-60hr burn-in and adjustment they are passable. Meaning they perform better than FM air signal. To get the most out of it I've used audio tests and set for the best flat curve (+1 bass, +1 treble) in mid-loud range. Mirage has not gotten similar treatment, but out of the dealer it was better than on Prius C.
UPDATE: the best setting for linear response on Mirage speakers (+2 bass, +2 treble). They are passable if you listen to FM signal, and don't try to push them as they distort. ~10-15hr of burn-in will reduce initial muddy feel. Speakers are rated at 15watt, so they will be first on your replacement list anyways.
You can stream audio to Prissy, and I think you cannot on Mirage (update: you can). BUT if you connect your iPod to Mirage via USB you can control it via radio buttons, what else would you need? I mean it is basic!
Must say that 2015 Prius C has Toyota's entune, but '14 and below have entune only on three and four levels.
The beauty is in the eye of beholder. Both designed for the least possible drag coefficient, with toyota lower and longer, and perhaps more modern feel. Mirage looks better in person than on pictures, the parts of the car flow. 2015 Prius C went through Toyota's "lets give it really ugly nose job" refresh, but it did not suffer from it as much as Prius v (wagon).
BUT how much time do you spend admiring your car from outside? It is inside what you will be staring at for loong time! And even with all crazy colors it is unlikely either of them will get you laid. It is a budget car for christ sake!
BUT where Prius C is pleasing to look at (from inside), Mirage interior throwback to the times when Monica Lewinsky was a household name. It is soo nineties! Nevertheless the gadgets on Mirage a simple and easy on eyes with really nice orange color which will not distract you at night.
Prius uses hard plastics, and Mitsu interior has soft feel. The Mitsu high gloss plastic on top of the radio is annoying as hell. If you get Prius C get the 2-tone black/grey interior; the all-grey looks really cheesy.
Despite only having 3-cyl Mirage is surprisingly fun to drive! The power to weight ratio on both is about the same, and they are surprisingly similar in driving dynamics. Both underpowered with slow 0-60 times, but enough pep for most 0-40mph city situations. Mirage 3-pot has really broad torque curve, so at the beginning got caught up forgetting to downshift manual. With 13mi on odometer manual was slightly notchy, but it got better as drive progressed. After 400mi it was as good as any better trannies out there. The shifter was in a wrong place, a few inches off. Why Mazda manages to put it right?
Mitsu is geared just right. The lower gear is not too low, and in 5th you are doing 3k at 60MPH and 4k at 70+. Mirage is light with good aerodynamics, broad torque so at highway speeds it feels alot quicker than most other cars like Civic which are geared for fuel economy. Prius C has eCVT which gives you everything in an instant, but it also has extra 600lbs to push. Neither of them is a dog as the HP numbers could suggest, and while there are not many ponies under the hood, they are having fun in getting loose!
Assured you'd be having a broad grin while bouncing all 74 of them at the 6,500RPM redline. Mitsu 3cyl is very smooth and it barks right way at the right times. Prissy whines when it is floored, but moves when asked.
UPDATE: the 3cyl revs eagerly, and since it fires 3 times over 2 revs, it sounds slower than it really is. At 6,000 RPM you only have 3/4 fires of 4cyl, so it sounds like four at 4,500. At the start and <2k it barks like a small diesel.
Driving around country side at leisurely pace, high sitting position and pogoing rear it reminds riding a tractor. In fact Mirage brings the memory of Gen1 RAV4 and other early small SUVs. Perhaps what it really is? the small SUV of 3rd world? That would explain high sitting position, bigger clearance and soft suspension. It would feel at home on pothole fasted country roads, driven at 25-45 MPH. Owners of SUVs may find this welcoming, but for the ones used to driving tight handling street cars this would not be the strong selling point.
Where the soft suspension excels in swallowing deep potholes so common in urban jungles in NE. Irregardless if Mitsu wants to succeed in developed countries they need to revise spring rates and shocks, and for US switch to more common tire sizes, 165/65R14 is odd.
Both of cars suffer in this area, but completely in different ways. Prius C exhibits classical "lawyers told us to make it understeer" symptoms. The stock 175/65R15 FuelMaxes are numb and not communicative. You would think they are really bad, that until you get into Mirage and try Enasaves. Dunlop Enasave 01 A/S in unarguably the worst tire on the market, and to make it worse there are not many choices in US for 165/65R14 tires. Not that there are that many in 175/65R15 either, so to get better rubbers expect to move up to 185/60R14 on Mitsu and 185/60R15 on Prissy.
On rag skid pad tests Prius C managed 0.79g and Mirage 0.71g, and 0.71 is unarguably due to Enasaves
Mitsu seems to be much better balanced front/rear, but the spring rates are so wrong! Even much taller cushy Chrysler minivan will not roll as much as Mirage. The damping is non-existent. When you hit a road seam in Mitsu, kick back and enjoy pogo action for next 10-15secs. I don't think I've ever driven a car that soft, how they've gotten it so wrong is beyond me.
By the time we got it home (8hr drive which included some nice tarmac in Alleghenies) we already had a set of coilovers on order. Stiffer springs and at very least heavier rear shocks are a must, if you're planning to keep this car.
In comparison Prius C springs and dampers while on softer side are better chosen. To manage understeer you need a rear sway bar and $15 15mm camber kit upfront.
I have not gone through the schedules, but Mirage will require valve checks and trans-axle oil change every 60k, oil changes every 7.5k. No valves on Prius, oil changes every 10k, and brake pads likely to last 200k or so. Both engines have timing chain, no belts . Iridium plugs good for 100k, am I missing something?
This is where it gets interesting. Prius C is rated EPA 50MPG and Mirage 36MPG?
1st 100mi in Prius C were ~42MPG, and the 1st tank/400mi ~48.6. With 2 people, A/C, mountains and interstates we managed 45.3 in Mirage. MPG in Prius was in low 50s for 1st 5k, and then it got better. at 15k last 5k were at 59.4 indicated, and Mitsu is still very green <500mi.
It is much easier to beat EPA in Mitsu with stick, so it looks like the real life the MPG gap btw both is not as critical. WIth current gas prices gassing up Mirage would cost you extra $1,200 for every 100k miles, so given the $6k+ difference, even with higher gas prices and additional maintenance Mirage will be cheaper still. For younger gen the insurance costs could be a game changer. we are talking potentially thousands a year.
UPDATE: Tooling around town with A/C in auto mode Mirage had shown 36 to 42 MPG. In similar situation Prius C gives 46 to 56. Either way you slice it, for every gallon in Prissy Mitsu needs 1.3gal ~30% more. Prius C stats show that for last 6,000mi EV was used 16% of the time. I suspect after break-in and with higher percentage of highway miles the gap may narrow.
UPDATE: did a regular 120mi round trip commute on Mitsi, and to tell the truth was really impressed with MPG = 54.1. Was cooler yesterday, so it was w/o A/C. The route included some sections of country roads, freeway and 55MPH with traffic lights highway. In similar situation Prius C would have given me ~60-61MPG, with 6-13% of miles in electric mode. Over long term (oil changes) "C" manages ~13-16% in electric mode.
So it looks like if you take the benefits of hybrid, Mirage has very similar efficiency to "C".
Since both are sub-compacts and good "kid" cars, the teenager insurance for Mirage is much lower than on Prius C.
Prius C has separate low/high with projectors on low beam using H11 bulbs and Mitsu uses old school single dual filament HB2 bulb. While projectors may be deemed better and "premium", in reality the light they produce is too focused. There is almost no light beyond cutoff line, so on low while there is more light where it shines you have very little depth perception. Mitsu puts out less light on low, but at least part of it is used to create flood effect. With stock bulbs Mirage's lights are superior for night driving.
On a plus side the costs for HID kits are down to $30, so it is cheaper on Prius to get an HID kit. The dual filament HID kit for Mitsu will run x2, so at that point of time cheaper LEDs may be a better option. If your night vision isn't the best, or you drive in all kinds of weather, you pretty much need to get fog light kit for Prius. Not so much for Mirage.
My Prius friends tell me that 2015 has redesigned headlights with single bulb. Is it an improvement? don't know.
Last edited by cyclopathic; 08-11-2015 at 12:22 PM.
View my fuel log 2015 Mirage DE 1.2 manual: 46.4 mpg (US) ... 19.7 km/L ... 5.1 L/100 km ... 55.7 mpg (Imp)