Reshaped Mirage okay to fend off Spark

There's confidence the reigning baby class champ can stave off a fresh challenger.


MAINTAINING a status quo on price and single model choice, but with freshened styling and improved dynamics, will be enough for Mitsubishi’s smallest car to maintain position as the baby class giant.

That’s the thought provided by Mitsubishi Motors New Zealand in respect to the just-arrived update for its Grey Power darling, the Mirage city car.

The freshen for the microcar class leader is handily timed, since it occurs just as a Holden that sets out to revise expectations from this category has just landed.

Daniel Cook, the Porirua-domiciled brand’s head of sales and marketing strategy, didn't comment directly on how much of a threat is presented by the Holden Spark, which has been expressly tailored to challenge the Mirage.

Holden believes their car can at least match the 800 registrations accumulated by the Mirage in 2015 – a bold call given that Spark’s predecessor, the Barina Spark, failed to break into the sector top three in its final year.

However the new Spark is much better-prepped for combat. It now has has the most power engine in the group and also has a stronger specification than any rival, including the being the sole contender with the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability that GM reckons will attract younger buyers.

Though it starts off $500 cheaper than the outgoing Barina Spark, at $17,990 to $19,990 (or $16,490 with a special order manual gearbox) it price-matches against almost its competitors – most most notably, too, the top version of the Holden is exactly the same money as the Mirage.

Finally, Holden also believes the result of a crash test conducted by the New Zealand Government-funded Australasian New Car Assessment Programme will show Barina to be the safest choice, stepping up from the old model’s four star rating to a preferable five-star outcome. Mirage is already a five-star car, but Holden is confident it might gain a higher points score within that optimal rating.

None of this is of particular concern to Cook. He considers that the carry-over strengths of frugal economy and a 10-year warranty will remain key customer appeal factors.

On top of that, while Mirage’s specification is unchanged, “it undergoes significant exterior, interior and handling improvements.”

Said Cook: “The exterior styling is now much more bold (sic) and distinctive and we believe that will allow us to retain market leadership.

“We also know that our leading fuel economy figure of 4.9 litres per 100kms and the 10-year warranty are very important to buyers in this segment, so we see these key features continuing to make Mirage the number one choice.”

The Mitsubishi retains a CVT automatic, the same transmission choice that is a Spark staple. However, the Holden’s gearless box is in marriage to a 73kW/128Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol now, whereas Mirage continues with a 58kW/102Nm 1.2-litre. It sats the CVT management has been altered for improved rolling acceleration.

Standard safety fare includes six airbags, active stability control (ASC), ABS, EBD and an emergency stop signal.

The update is identified by changes to the grille, front and rear bumpers, wheels and bonnet, while all versions receive a cabin refresh with higher-grade materials.

In addition to the aesthetic upgrades, the Mirage has had a chassis retune. Spring and damper rates have been revised and new front suspension top-mounts have been fitted for reduced road noise.