No, it's horrid. You should not even attempt it. OK, for real though. I'm going to have to guess the biggest difference between what you may learn on, and a Mirage is going to be the clutch push force. After I drive any of my other cars, and I get into the Mirage I practically stomp a hole in the floor behind the clutch pedal. It is so light I hardly even feel it. But I'll say that as long as it never slips (while engaged) then I'm fine with the very light push force.
Owning a manual transmission will set you apart from probably 90% of the people around you. So it is a cool skill to have. And yes, it will prevent your kids friends from getting behind the wheel for the most part. And it is anti-theft. I've got an extended shifter in mine so my shift knob sits real high. And people see it and go, "this is a manual?" It's as if it transforms into a spaceship with the stick extending up out of the floor.
I've taught all 3 of my sons to drive stick. The oldest 2 hated it until they learned it. Now, neither one of them wants to drive an automagic. The oldest 2 have Infiniti G35's, with 6 speeds. Yes, the Mirage 5 speed is beginner friendly, my opinion. I consider it a simple entry level manual transmission car. Practice low rpm take off's. Get in a parking lot somewhere and just practice barely revving it over idle, and barely slipping the clutch. Meaning, I can have the clutch fully engaged by the time the rear tires get to where the front tires had been stopped. This is not necessarily the way you'll engage the clutch when in traffic. But being able to do that, and recreating it as well as you can in traffic minimizes the wear and tear on the clutch. I've been driving manual transmission since birth.
There are no concerns about driving the 5 speed Mirage on highways. It keeps right up. Caveat - I'm not the kind of driver that pulls out of a side road in front of a 80,000 lb semi doing 75 mph. But down here in GA, it seems the popular thing to do. I think it may be a statute I missed: Always inconvenience as many other drivers on the road, when pulling out into traffic.
I'm the same age as you. And even though I can easily dart out in traffic even with the Mirage, I want to choke people who do that to me, so I just don't do it at all. I'd rather pull out after traffic and be able to granny accelerate as slowly as I care to, with no pressure on me from traffic behind barreling up on my bumper. I suggest everyone do that, especially with a Mirage, as "it ain't gonna win no drag races."
One of the things I like the most, and was concerned about it pre-purchase and was happy to find out it wasn't a concern, was how well my little Blueberry can hold 70 mph with the cruise control. I haven't found a hill yet it had any trouble pulling. Same thing all the way to 80 mph. The torque max happens at about 80 mph (in 5th gear) so it has no trouble at all holding 80 mph as well. A 5 speed Mirage is a hidden gem in my opinion. I wish I could by 3 more, 1 for each son. But even when I was young like they are, a Mirage would NOT have been a car I was interested in. But now, I just love it.
View my fuel log 2020 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 42.6 mpg (US) ... 18.1 km/L ... 5.5 L/100 km ... 51.2 mpg (Imp)