Mitsubishi Mirage Confirmed for U.S. in Fall 2013—With 1.2-Liter Three-Cylinder!
You should like three-cylinder engines. They’re cool. They’re different. They make thrummy little sounds. And come September, Mitsubishi will become the third automaker currently offering one in the U.S. After picking up some forms from the California Air Resources Board, we spoke to a Mitsubishi staffer, who confirmed that a 1.2-liter three will power the new “Global Small Car”—that’s the generic name for the Mirage—when it goes on sale this fall. Although Mitsu is being coy about the car’s name until its debut at the New York auto show in April, the CARB document also lists the name as Mirage. We don’t expect a change there.
If the engine isn’t changed from its naturally aspirated European setup, it’ll give the U.S. Mirage just 79 horsepower. And so the company that once shocked the world by squeezing as much as 400 hp from a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine will have the second-least-powerful car on the American market. The only car the Mirage will outgun is one of its three-cylinder brethren, the 70-hp Smart. With turbocharging, Ford’s new three-cylinder Fiesta packs 123 raging ponies.
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Unfortunately, this news doesn’t much relieve our urge to grab Mitsubishi and shake, while yelling “What the heck do you mean, no more Evo?” Nor is the Mirage likely to buoy Mitsubishi’s sinking ship in the States. Success for cars like the Ford Fiesta and the Honda Fit shows that the line of small-car acceptance has shifted, but there’s still a line. The Mazda 2 and the Chevy Spark are straddling it, and can look across to the Smart Fortwo and Scion iQ. The Mirage probably is too small and underpowered to score big sales here—but hey, we can always lobby Mitsu for a Ralliart version. Turbocharging really just makes inline-threes that much cooler.