The 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 is a subcompact sedan based on the Mirage hatchback. Which puts it right among the lower reaches of new-car prices. The G4 illustrates what is so often the case with budget items: spending a little extra in the first place will bring more dividends down the road.
Ride comfort, sound insulation, cabin materials and useful power — things that make their presence felt during every drive — are the kinds of areas where the G4 doesn’t quite prove itself as adequate. On the plus side, the G4 is capable of 41 miles per gallon on the highway, while the new-car warranty — along with any financial incentives — may sway a buyer away from rivals or a pre-owned vehicle instead.
What’s New for 2018?
The entry level ES trim receives a rearview camera as standard, plus Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, an upgraded 7-inch touchscreen, a "pass-through" aperture in the trunk and the option of 15-in alloy wheels. The SE trim now has an armrest for the driver’s seat.
What We Like
The availability of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration at this level
What We Don’t
The general low-rent aura; lack of sophistication
Under the G4’s hood is a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine rated at 78 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque. It drives the front wheels through either a standard 5-speed manual transmission or an optional automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption for the manual version at 33 mpg city, 40 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined. The CVT adjusts those figures to 35 mpg city/41 mpg hwy/37 mpg combined.
Standard Features and Options
The 5-seater 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage G4 comes in ES and SE trim levels.
ES ($15,260) starts with 14-in steel wheels, LED taillights, a rear spoiler, power windows/locks/mirrors, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a steering wheel that adjusts only for tilt, a manual 4-way adjustable driver’s seat, air conditioning, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 7-in touchscreen plus a 4-speaker audio system with an auxiliary audio input and a USB port.
An optional ES Smartphone package brings Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration and a 6.5-in touchscreen, plus 15-in alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and cruise control.
SE ($17,960) has that package as standard, then adds the CVT, keyless entry/ignition, fog lamps, automatic climate control, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped shift knob and a self-dimming rearview mirror.
Other options include interior lighting, front/rear parking sensors and a rear lip spoiler.
Trunk space is 12.3 cu ft. That’s OK, but the Toyota Yaris iA comes with 13.5 cu ft.
The Mirage G4 comes standard with 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (discs up front; drums at the rear), stability control, hill-start assist and seven airbags (front, front side, driver knee and side curtain).
The G4 has not been through the government’s crash test program, but its Mirage hatchback sibling earned four out of five stars overall, with five stars for side impact protection and four stars for rollover safety. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2018 G4 its highest rating of Good in three out of five main categories. But side impact protection was marked one rung down as Acceptable, while the (tricky) small-overlap frontal impact test resulted in the second-lowest rating of Marginal on the driver’s side. It hasn’t been subjected to that same test on the passenger side.
Behind the Wheel
To no one’s surprise, acceleration is hardly thrusting with this small 3-cylinder engine. At high revs, like passing or merging, engine and transmission noise can also be intrusive, particularly with the CVT. But thanks to its modest dimensions and small turning circle, the G4 is easy to park, while negotiating tight city spaces is easily accomplished.
There’s also a pleasant amount of standard equipment for the money. Some competitors only provide hand-crank windows and manual door locks, but the G4 has powered versions, along with a rearview camera, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
However, things are still basic, even for this budget-conscious corner of the automotive world. The steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach, as taller drivers will discover. Rear passenger space is adequate by segment standards, but not as generous as the Nissan Versa, for example.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Chevrolet Sonic — More fun to drive than the G4 and with a nicer interior.
2018 Ford Fiesta — Available as a hatchback or sedan. Far more enjoyable and better executed than the G4. And its excellent fuel economy (with the turbocharged 3-cylinder engine) compares well with the G4’s, albeit at a higher price.
2018 Nissan Versa — If passenger space is a priority, the Versa offers ample headroom and a massive back seat. There’s not much else to recommend it, though.
2018 Toyota Yaris iA — Has a far more pleasant interior than the G4 and its engine has at least some pep by comparison.
Used Honda Civic — Well-engineered, well-built and it’s a fairly sure bet that Honda spent way more money developing it than Mitsubishi could ever devote to the Mirage G4. Look for one in Honda’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program.
The automatic transmission is an extra $1,200 in the ES, which starts to make the SE look more affordable. But make a point of checking out the competition and keep in mind that a little more spent now will bring benefits down the road.