- United States
Engine: 1.4L Inline 4
Transmission: 4-Speed Manual
Weight: 1,750 LBS (795 KG)
0-60: 11.7 Sec.
Top Speed: 96 MPH (155 Km/H)
Mitsubishi's first front wheel drive compact hatchback was the Mirage. With the big European and Japanese makers already dominating this market with the Honda Civic and VW Golf, Mitsubishi put all their efforts into this car.
Introduced at the 1977 Tokyo Motor Show, the 3-door model was released in March of the following year. This was followed by a 5-door model in September of the same year, and in February of 1982 a 4-door model was added with minor changes. The original engines were inline four cylinder, 1.2L SOHC with 71 BHP and 1.4L with 81 BHP. The GLX was the higher spec version of the GLS, and came with a high quality sound system. In March of 1979 the 87 BHP sports grade 1600GT was added, and it was active in races such as the All-Japan Rally.
The biggest characteristic of the Mirage was the body size. With a total length of 149.2 inches and a total width of 53.1 inches it was the biggest Japanese domestic hatchback at the time, comparable to the VW Golf. The spacious interior was a great advantage over its rivals. The gearbox of the "Supershift" auxiliary transmission was also groundbreaking. Separating it from normal 4-speed MTs were the "POWER" and "ECONOMY" modes, which allowed for a total of 8 gears to be selected. The four wheel independent suspension had a negative offset MacPherson strut up front, and in the back it used Mitsubishi's proprietary trailing arm. One can feel Mitsubishi's enthusiasm for their first front wheel small car.
With its neat straight-line styling, body weight less than 800kg, rich sports image and strong rally Lancer engine, actual 0-1312.3 ft acceleration was a swift 18 seconds. With the 1982 addition with minor changes of a 1.4L turbo model boasting 104 BHP, in a single bound the Mirage became the byword for "Hot Hatch".