Hi everyone! I own a green Mirage, GLS trim, manual.
I bought it because:
- It's cheap!
The Mirage, at least in our market, is great bang-for-the-buck (or the piso, as the case may be). The Suzuki Celerio (aka Suzuki Alto, Maruti A-Star), Kia Picanto and Chevrolet Spark are similarly priced, but they're all smaller and in the case of the latter two use more fuel. The Hyundai Eon and (India-made, Maruti) Suzuki Alto are cheaper, but are a lot smaller.
- It's small!
The car I rode in as a kid is a 1992 Daihatsu Charade, a cheap, honest-to-goodness, absolutely-no-frills lightweight car powered by a 993cc three banger. My mom currently drives a 2004 Honda Jazz (Fit).
Obviously, my family has a fondness for small cars and we keep them running forever (the Charade's with my dad, but the AC is broken). I hope to keep my Mirage running for the next 10 years or so.
- It's green!
I mean this both literally and figuratively. It was love at first sight when I saw the green color in person. The car also happens to be the most economical one in its class - 825kg and excellent aero.
What I like about the car
The big things
- It's ridiculously cheap to run. With gas at around 50 pesos (US$1.25) / liter, and the fuel consumption around at 6.5L/100km, my daily 30km commute comes out to around 100 pesos ($2.50) daily. That's including the insane Manila rush hour traffic. Excluding parking (around $1.50/day), that's as good as taking public transport around here, and Manila's public transport is dirt cheap if stupidly chaotic. Considering that I also carpool (2-3 people including me, sometimes five ), I actually win considerably by taking the car over riding public transport.
- 825 kilograms. You can feel how light it is driving it around. Even the Honda Jazz (aka Fit), weighing at 1000kg, feels like a truck.
- 4.6m turning radius for the LHD version. It's great for navigating those abominably narrow U-turns that the local authorities are very fond of using. This combined with its length (or lack of) makes it very easy to parallel park as well.
- Generous interior space. The car is packaged very well; I'm rather tall for a Filipino (175cm) and even with the front seats moved fully backwards, there's ample space in front of my knees. Trunk space is a little tight, but the GLS also comes with 60/40 rear seats (GLX variant comes with a full-folding rear seat only). Shoulder room is on the narrow side, but acceptable for short trips or if you can put the smallest person in the middle.
- Excellent safety features. The Mirage comes with dual airbags as standard, with the GLS trim adding in ABS with EBD and a three-point seatbelt for the rear middle passenger (he gets a lap belt in the GLX). Even the more expensive cars (such as the Vios aka Yaris Sedan) come only with a driver airbag as standard.
- Like I said in the first post, it's green, literally and figuratively.
The little things
- Big mirrors. A must in navigating Manila's insane rush hour traffic.
- Three cylinders. I grew up to the inline three growl and consider it to be the hallmark of a proper car in the same way that American kids grow up to the sound of a cross plane, odd-firing V8. This is obviously completely subjective but hearing it feels much like having grandma cook lunch.
- Comfortable seats. They're nicer to sit on than they look, and much better than the rock hard seats of the Honda City and Jazz.
- Powerful headlamps with well-designed optics. Driving at night, I noticed that it also throws a column of light towards the kerb; the headlamps have a diffuser that's designed to do exactly that, which is great for night time driving around residential streets.
- Good forward visibility. The A-pillars aren't as thick and sits at a higher angle as some of the other cars (I'm looking at you again, Honda Jazz).
- The Philippine-spec Mirage GLS comes with a different, Chinese made, 2-DIN, touch screen stereo. It has lots of features - bluetooth, iPod and USB connectivity, GPS navigation, video playback and it sounds decent (non-audiophile here). It just happens to be really, really hard to use (more on this later). The Mirage GLX's stereo also has a lot of features - all of the above sans touch screen and GPS.
- The wiper controls have a speed-sensitive, variable intermittent setting and a one-touch mist function. Having both is rare for cars at this price (you usually get one or the other, or most likely just a fixed intermittent setting). It's a total gem if you live in the tropics where it rains, and rains, and rains some more, and rains again for good measure.
- It's a head-turner, apparently. The first two weeks that I got this car, I've gotten a lot of stares from pedestrians and fellow drivers. I had to check, was I driving around in a Ferrari?! Hmmm... perhaps it's the green color.
- And oh, have I mentioned that it's green?
What I dislike about the car
The big things
- Actually, I have only one major complaint about this car: the radio. The touch screen interface is awkward and slow to respond, and being a touch screen you have to look at it in order to operate it. It's distracting to the point that I "set it and forget it" before I drive off lest I risk crashing.
The little things
- No vanity mirror for the passenger side (much to the dismay of my girlfriend)
- No light inside the trunk.
- No handles on the ceiling for the rear passengers.
- The stock horn is pathetic; you'd think they raided the parts bin from a scooter factory! I upgraded the horn immediately after I got the car.
- It's one of the few manual transmission cars where reverse is longer than first gear. That's fine except that I live in a hilly area and my driveway has a steep entrance. I stall the engine about every other time I back into the garage.
- The rear windows are a bit forward than what I like, which makes it rather difficult to see what's coming when you're backing out of a parking space.
- A lot of noise comes in from the rear. I can hear a constant splash from the road spray when it's raining.
- The electric power steering is vague and noisy. It's very light, which is great for parallel parking but not so much when you're throwing the car around the corners. I am not exaggerating (well, only slightly) when I say that my PS3's Logitech Driving Force GT is quieter and gives better feedback!
- Very minor nitpick: I could do without the start/stop button. If you stall the engine, you need to wait for the green light to come on. This takes about three seconds, or five seconds too long before the taxi driver behind you starts honking like mad. If you push the button before the light comes on, the car thinks you're turning off the engine and unlocks the doors.
Overall, I'd say if Colin "Simplify and Add Lightness" Chapman made econoboxes instead of racing cars, he would have come up with something similar to this car.
View my fuel log 2012 Mirage GLS 1.2 manual: 33.3 mpg (US) ... 14.1 km/L ... 7.1 L/100 km ... 40.0 mpg (Imp)