We hear that Mitsubishi executives are still considering bringing the itty-bitty Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback to the United States to compete against cars like the Chevrolet Spark. It begs the question: should the company go through with it?
Automotive News reports that Mitsubishi president Osamu Masuko is still thinking it all over, with one careful eye on the current subcompact car market. There's a good reason for that: subcompact sales are notoriously finicky, jumping when gas prices do and slumping when the price at the pump drops. But companies like Fiat and Toyota have already seen some success with the tiny 500 and iQ hatchbacks.
If anything, Masuko's mind could be changed in either direction by the success of the upcoming Chevrolet Spark, which occupies slots in beneath below the already-popular (and already fairly small) Sonic hatchback and sedan. With sales of slightly larger cars like the Ford Fiesta dwindling, the Spark will likely have to rely on its funky design, high-tech amenities, and low base price to lure buyers in.
If anything, the Mitsubishi Mirage has something the Spark doesn't: really, really high fuel economy numbers. While the word is still out on official EPA ratings, Japanese authorities rated the car at up to 64 mpg, thanks to either a 1.0- or 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission, and garnished with automatic stop/start technology. It might also have the benefit of a low price: the Japanese-market Mirage starts at the equivalent of $12,548, a few hundred less than the Spark.
Still, we'll have to wait and see what Masuko decides. "I've heard some market voices say this kind of car would sell well [in the U.S.]," he said last week, "but we're still assessing whether Americans will accept it." Considering that we've seen a few Mitsubishi Mirage testers leaving Mitsubishi's research and development center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we’re not surprised to hear the company is at least considering how well the Mitsubishi Mirage could fare here.
What do you think--is the super-small Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback good for the U.S., or should it stay home??