2022 Mitsubishi Mirage ES MT

You’ll have plenty of time to drive a car without a gearbox when the electric cars complete their takeover. 
You’ll have plenty of time to drive a car without a gearbox when the electric cars complete their takeover. 

by Arthur Chiang | February 2, 2022


Once the crown jewel for Mitsubishi Motors and a true automotive icon, the early Lancer Evolution was built on the same platform as the Mirage, their compact economy car. Though the Evolution bowed out of production in 2015 the Mirage was reborn as a subcompact. Available in five trim levels, the 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage ES MT is the one we’ve been waiting to get our hands on with one key difference setting it apart from the rest of the lineup – a five-speed manual transmission.

While not quite as small as a Japanese Kei or European city car, this new Mirage certainly evokes the image of the ubiquitous little cars of Asia and Europe. A revised front end introduced in 2021 is a welcomed update with a more modern appearance. The bold front grill proudly displays the chrome “signature Mitsubishi Dynamic Shield emblem” (or as we used to call it the Diamond Star) flanked by large headlights and bumper integrated fog lamps.

The rear end also looks sharp without being over-styled, with a roof spoiler that extends beyond two humps formed in the roofline adding character.  The standard 14-inch steel wheels and hubcap covers are an economical choice but at least buying winter tires will be easy on the wallet. We quite like the Titanium Grey paint color adorning our tester giving this Mirage a more sophisticated aura.

Moving to the interior it’s hard not to notice the swaths of hard black plastic running across the dash and all over the doors; no soft touch accents here. There is no center armrest or console making the cabin feel roomy with adequate space for four adults.  The steering wheel and shift knob are made of a urethane material that doesn’t look or feel all that different from the other plastics in the cabin.  The seats are comfortable with some thick cushions and have an interesting orange geometric pattern in the centers to add some visual interest. The rear bench has a 60/40 split which fold down for extra cargo room.

Perhaps a savvy cost cutting measure, the driver and front passenger are treated to power windows while rear passengers are relegated to using manual hand crank rear windows. A more serious omission for the sake of cost is the lack of central locking. Keyless entry on the ES trim level may have been a bridge too far but this really feels too heavy handed from Mitsubishi’s accounting department for a 2022 model. This became especially apparent in the cold of winter as we let out a small groan each time we needed access to the rear seat.

Speaking of locks, the lock barrel in the trunk isn’t supported very well and turning the key to actuate it flexes the metal surrounding it. Though, overall the build quality of the Mirage and its sheet metal feels good for this price point. The biggest grievance in the interior is the scissor jack or more specifically where it is stored – beneath the driver’s seat. Perhaps an oversight for the left-hand-drive markets, the seat is mounted about a half-inch higher than the passenger seat, which has a negative effect on the driver’s seating position.

The infotainment and climate controls are simplistic; knobs and physical buttons flank a seven-inch touchscreen which provide an easy to use tactile experience that feels just right. Automatic climate control is a nice surprise on a subcompact economy car. Operating is as easy as adjusting the temperature you want and letting the car do the rest. A single USB Type-A port is located in front of the shifter allowing for media integration and charging devices along with Bluetooth for media and phone connectivity. Basic phone and audio controls are equipped on the steering wheel.

The display is bright and easy to use, automatically switching to the reverse camera when reverse gear is selected.  A single 12V accessories port is also included. Though Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are not included on the ES trim, this can be addressed through aftermarket as the factory unit is a standard double-din size. We generally don’t like piano black trim and buttons but it does just enough to dress up the interior here.

As we fire up the engine for the first time we’re met with a green temperature light in the gauge cluster indicating the little 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine has yet to reach optimal operating temperature. Rated at 78 horsepower at 6,000RPM with peak torque of 74 lb-ft. at 4,000RPM, the Mirage targets  economy over outright performance. Somehow, the pedals are placed very well for heel and toe downshifting and left foot braking. The clutch is comfortable but not too light as we pop the shifter into first with a clunk.

The transmission feels notchy and somewhat agricultural but this five-speed manual gearbox saves 66-pounds over the CVT and every pound counts with only 78 horses on tap. Shifts need to be more deliberate as we wait for the synchros to catch up versus driving a car with more sporting intentions.  Some drivers may feel a bit of a stretch when reaching for third due to the high seating position. Equipped with an electric power assisted rack and pinion, the steering feels very light as we make our way out of the parking lot but it feels nice and taught when reaching normal driving speeds.

With the engine up to temp we punch the go pedal fully expecting to hear a weedy little sewing machine but instead find the inline-three has a nice growl as we charge through the rev range towards the 6,500RPM redline. There is an adequate amount of grunt found here and the manual gearbox really helps to get the most out of this engine. While the Mirage will cruise on the highway at 120 km/h at 3,500RPM, it really is at its best on local roads or in the urban environment.

Fuel economy is rated at 6.6L/100km city and 5.6L/100km highway, for 6.2L/100km combined. The front Macpherson strut and rear torsion beam suspension feels soft and provides plenty of ground clearance soaking up the potholes and construction-damaged terrain but there is excessive body roll when attacking a corner at any speed. Braking is adequate with ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes along with a cable actuated handbrake.

At $14,098, the ES MT is one of the most economical cars available with some nice surprises at this price point. Things like a seven-inch touchscreen, automatic climate control with air conditioning, reverse camera, and traction control are a nice bonus. Although the Chevrolet Spark may be nearly 1/3 cheaper in price, the Mirage is physically larger in every dimension and provides better fuel economy. Buyers looking for a fun economical urban commuter or a car to learn how to drive a manual gearbox with should take a close look.

We recommend staying away from the more expensive CVT trim levels and go for the 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage ES MT. The simplicity of the manual gearbox elevates the Mirage from an appliance to get from A to B as economically as possible to something much more entertaining. You’ll have plenty of time to drive a car without a gearbox when the electric cars complete their takeover. The 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage may not be all the car you want but it could be all the car you need.

See Also:

2021 Chevrolet Spark LT

2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring

2021 Toyota Corolla L 6MT

Vehicle Specs
Subcompact Hatchback
Engine Size
1.2L inline-three
Horsepower (at RPM)
78 at 6,000
Torque (lb-ft.)
74 at 4,000
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Arthur Chiang

Staff Writer

Arthur is a walking encyclopedia of cars and is a known go-to source for obscure JDM parts in Ontario. He’s an avid track junkie and has amassed a collection of rare Subarus and Hondas.

Current Toys: ’00 WRX STI S201, '03 Impreza TS Wagon, ’98 WRX STI Type R, ’05 S2000, ’72 H2 750, ’08 Ruckus