Mitsubishi Mirage: a feisty little thing

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PUTTING the Mirage’s engine, suspension and 4.6-meter turning radius to good use

With a tiny three-cylinder engine, diminutive 15-inch wheels and a body weight of just over 800 kilograms, it’s understandable for owners to treat their all-new Mirage—or any subcompact for that matter—with utmost care and gentleness.

But for a car that is fuel-efficient and carries an affordable price tag, it’s no surprise that Mirage owners would shower it with a daily dose of “TLC.”

Probably, one would think that the delicate-looking Mirage would barely survive bad roads and harsh driving habits. But last June 29, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC)—through the first leg of its Mirage Gymkhana Precision Driving Competition at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City—made a strong statement and showed the kind of stuff the Mirage is made of.

Froy Dytianquin, MMPC’s vice president for marketing services, proudly enthused that despite its small 77-horsepower 1.2-liter engine, the Mirage is quite zippy and nimble. “Owners and those planning to buy the Mirage are assured of the car’s quality components and well-balanced chassis.”

For the event, MMPC spruced up two manual GLS variants with modifications limited to new headers and intakes from Ferman Lao’s Speedlab and Nitto Neo Gen Tires supplied by Sammy Liuson’s Wheel Gallery. The Mirage Gymkhana Precision Driving Competition is also sponsored by Pilipinas Shell Corp., AVT and 3M Philippines.

Two divisions

The MMPC event, which will be concluded after the yet to be announced fourth leg of the competition, came up with two divisions: teams from the Motoring media and teams from the Mitsubishi fleet/club. Though both divisions will have their respective top three winners, the winning teams will also get the chance to vie for the overall top three spots with a P25,000 cash prize for the second runner-up, P50,000 for the first runner-up and P100,000 for the champion.

Ensuring victory will entail superb driving skills. Teams (composed of a driver and navigator) will race simultaneously against each other in opposite directions along a “mirrored course” (called such because the length and turns of each course are identical). After completing one round, the two opposing teams will have to switch cars. And interestingly, the occupants will also have to take on the role previously assigned to their partner.

SOLVE the puzzle and earn extra points.

To earn scores from each leg of the event, a team must register the fastest time. However, a 5-second penalty will be added every time a driver displaces or topples a cone, and another 5 seconds for each mis-shift (or faulty gear-shifting) that a driver commits. A maximum 5-minute penalty time will be given to the driver who misses any turn or does a “burnout” (spinning the wheels while the vehicle is stationary) at the starting line.

Adding spice to the competition is the nondriving challenge for the teams. This time the teams will have to solve a picture puzzle to earn additional points.

Scoring

The scoring system in each leg is similar to how the top 10 teams earn points in Formula 1 races: 1st=25 pts, 2nd=18 pts, 3rd=15 pts, 4th=12 pts, 5th=10 pts, 6th=8 pts, 7th=6 pts, 8th=4 pts, 9th=2 pts and 10th=1 pt.

NOT A time for leisurely driving

“It is a very exciting competition and a great way for the public to know  that the Mirage, a subcompact hatch, has been developed to provide them with an affordable, fuel-efficient, as well as exciting ride,” noted Arlan Reyes, MMPC’s advertising and promotions manager.

Considering the prize money and the bragging rights at stake, the teams are expected to push their members’ skills to the limit and put the Mirage’s engine, suspension and 4.6-meter turning radius to good use.

And when the smoke clears at the final leg of the competition, we’ll get to see the proud winners and a Mirage finally proving to all and sundry that indeed, “good things come in small packages.”

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