Purchasing your first car is a significant moment, particularly for a car enthusiast. Car enthusiasts usually have an interesting car as their first, a car that is not your ordinary machine simply designed to drive from Point A to Point B, but also has a bit of character. My first car however, - a 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage - is not that. It is built to a price, and is simply designed as a cheap, reliable and efficient mode of transport. Not very interesting then, hardly worthy of an article and some fancy photos dedicated to it. Fortunately, I'm a car enthusiast, cars excite me, driving anything is something I find enjoyable. And because this is my first car, I look at it, in a sense, through some rose-tinted glasses.
Let's have a look at the basics then. Powered by a 1.2 litre 3 cylinder (that's almost half a 1JZ if you think hard enough), it makes 72 horsepower and goes from 0-100kmh in approximately 12 seconds. So, it's slow and puny, but because it weighs only 920kgs, it handles very well, and it is very easy to drive it on the limit, without being scared out of your wits. It's like what motoring journalist James May says, "It's not about how much power you have, it's about how much power you can use", and in the Mitsubishi Mirage, you can use all of it, whenever you want. Thus, despite its tiny engine, the lightness and petiteness of the Mirage paired with its skinny tyres, makes it quite an enjoyable car to drive. I will say this though, I sure am glad I bought one with a manual gearbox, otherwise I doubt I would be calling it fun.
Inside though, you are reminded that it is meant to be a cheap car. Bad plastics, bolts not covered and the most annoying parcel shelf to be fitted to any car. These aren't issues really, unless you're Doug Demuro, however I will say the heating leaves something to be desired. The stereo has Bluetooth, USB, AUX and a CD player, and includes an easy-to-use hands-free system, allowing you know its limits (this is 2014 remember), so plenty of options in that area. However, the worst part is the lack of insulation. Although it is only a 1.2 litre engine, it is quite a loud powerplant, especially in the cockpit, and despite the very skinny tyres, the noise from the road can become quite loud and therefore annoying. Add torrential rain and you'll have a hard time not just hearing the music coming from the four speakers, but anything at all as your ears will be protesting at the droning noise.
But the positives certainly outweigh the stupid parcel shelf held up by a single piece of string and the chance of becoming deaf whilst driving in torrential rain and listening to 'A Perfect Circle' simultaneously. Put the rear seats down and I have plenty of room for all my camera gear. Its small 35 litre fuel tank makes it cheap to refuel, and its 3-cylinder engine just barely sips any fuel, meaning it will be quite economical when I travel to racetracks across Victoria and even interstate. Also, this will be the fourth Mitsubishi to be owned in my family, and each of them have been solid long-lasting cars. If history tells me anything, the Mirage should be no different.
The Mitsubishi Mirage then is a very simple car, nothing special, but it serves its purpose extremely well, and I think in a uniquely fun way. In a way a car like this is a perfect first car. It's safe, economical, fun to drive yet sets the bar low for whatever your next car purchase will be.
And well... it's mine, so I'm obviously going to be a bit biased. Everybody remembers there first car in a positive way whether it was something special or a complete rust bucket. That's because it gives you that freedom, and ultimately is a major piece of the puzzle in enjoying and experiencing new opportunities, that more often than not, shape your future. Doug Demuro calls this the worst new car you can buy, and I agree with him with a few things (and disagree with others since my ES spec has quite a few more options than the one he reviewed). This is a car you have to look at through rose-tinted glasses, whether you are renting it for a weekend or experience your newfound four-wheeled freedom in it.