After driving the 2014 Mirage, the latest entry to Mitsubishi Motors’ Canadian lineup, we became rather enamored with the dear little thing. It’s small, it’s spunky, and has tons of character. I decided to conduct an informal interview with our friend, Mitsubishi Motors Canada’s manager of Public Relations, John Arnone, and find out what his thoughts are.
AD: We really like the Mirage and have gained tons of respect after road testing it. Its sales numbers are a direct reflection on just how aggressively-priced it is. How does Mitsubishi feel about the Mirage’s reception in the Canadian market?
JA: Launched in late September 2013, the Mirage was Canada’s most fuel-efficient subcompact gasoline-powered car right off the bat. The numbers are astounding (4.4L/100km or 64MPG highway). Now that we’re fully into our selling season, we are seeing significant increases every month. The base ($12,498) car takes a good chunk of sales, but typically Canadians opt for the higher trim levels. The SE is our volume seller. The Mirage is our first subcompact entry into the Canadian market and is something both dealers and consumers were asking for. A majority of our sales are in the Québec market, where there is a predisposition towards small, fuel-efficient cars.
AD: There are many subcompacts on sale in Canada, but not many manufacturers who have dared enter the 3-cylinder game. The thing has a neat, raspy growl that makes it sound pretty mean for a little car. What made Mitsubishi make the decision to go with a 3-cylinder in this market rather than stick with a conventional 4-pot?
JA: Mitsubishi Motors is a large, global company, and the Mirage is a global car. It’s marketed in different regions around the world, and makes a ton of sense for us to market a world car in Canada — one of the world’s most multicultural countries. The three-cylinder makes for phenomenal fuel economy, especially with the CVT, so that made our decision quite easy.
AD: While the CVT on the Mirage we tested returned great fuel mileage, as an enthusiast magazine, we’re a little bit more curious about the manual transmission available. From the preliminary sales of the model, what percentage of Canadian buyers have opted for the three-pedal option?
JA: A huge selling point on the Mirage is the fuel efficiency. Contrary to common perceptions, the CVT is actually more fuel efficient than the five-speed manual transmission. Obviously the whole market is shifting towards automatics, and the Mirage is no exception. In fact, more than one of our customers have reported fuel economy numbers even better than Transport Canada’s fuel ratings for Mirage.
AD: Now that the five-door hatchback has established its niche in the Canadian new car market, we know you guys plan to launch the Mirage G4 Sedan. Are you willing to share projected sales numbers in proportion to the hatchback?
JA: The Mirage G4 sedan that’s making its rounds on the Canadian auto show circuit is actually an experiment of sorts. We’re showcasing it at the major Canadian shows with customer service representatives on hand to record public opinions and gauge the public’s reception to the G4. After gathering our final sets of data at the Edmonton Auto Show in April, we will make a decision with regards to the Mirage G4. If we announce an intention to sell G4, it may not be exactly as shown; rather a variation of sorts.
AD: Has there been any interest by companies such as ZipCar and CarShare in buying the Mirage? I’d assume that its low price combined with Mitsubishi’s warranty program and long-standing reputation for reliability would make it seriously appealing to volume fleets such as these?
JA: Yes there is an interest amongst car-sharing programs both for the Mirage as well as our all-electric i-MIEV. We have just established a fleet department specifically to cater to this industry segment.
AD: Now to move a bit past Mirage and into the rest of the market, does Mitsubishi have plans to “evolve” down other avenues? I know the enthusiast community is enamored with the current Evolution. An upcoming successor can only be better, right?
JA: The whole Lancer range has been great to the Mitsubishi franchise. It’s easily the name that’s most-associated with Mitsubishi, and was our bestseller until the RVR knocked it off its mantle last year. In terms of future plans, Mitsubishi announced in November that we will be forming a global partnership with Renault-Nissan to seek opportunities for a sedan.
AD: What else is in the pipeline for Mitsubishi? Is there any chance of the Galant making a Canadian return?
JA: As we just discussed, the Renault-Nissan partnership is likely to produce a sedan – it’s size and configuration is yet to be decided. However, it is on our near-term horizon as we continue to improve upon our existing products. The Outlander, RVR, and Mirage will continue to see enhancements throughout their life cycles. There is also a plug-in hybrid version of the Outlander that will make its way to Canada next year.