While the number of genuinely cheap news cars in America has dwindled in recent years, Mitsubishi offers something to be hopeful for. The Japanese marque quietly announced its 2023 product line updates today, and buried in the press release copy is mention of a special Ralliart edition of the Mirage.
The legendary Ralliart name returns to the U.S. in early calendar year 2023 with Outlander, Outlander PHEV, Eclipse Cross, Outlander Sport and Mirage receiving unique body effects, graphics and other rally-inspired touches. All models will be built in limited numbers and available in White Diamond paint with a contrasting black roof on Outlander, Outlander PHEV, Eclipse Cross, Outlander Sport and Mirage.
Hold on. White Diamond paint with a contrasting black roof? Where have we seen this before? Oh yes, in that other Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart edition. See, the Mitsubishi Mirage is primarily built in Thailand, and Thai drivers seem to really love the little thing. A small, economical, light car that’s still reasonably practical sounds like just the thing for an entry point to the new car market. Presumably enjoying decent popularity and sales, Mitsubishi dusted off the Ralliart nameplate for this special Thai-market appearance package that’s so kitschy it’s good.
Bask in the magnificence of fake carbon fiber wheel arch trims, revel in the splendor of a properly large graphics package. This Mirage Ralliart is a solid dose of fun for the cheap transportation segment. While the Ralliart name traditionally came with some performance upgrades, you might want to temper your expectations a touch. The Thai-market Mirage Ralliart features zero go-fast bits whatsoever, just three cylinders of fury doing their best to eke the most distance from a gallon of fuel. While an insane limited-edition hot hatch using the 4B40 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the Eclipse Cross would be cool, this symphony of cosmetic farkle makes so much more sense from a business standpoint. Besides, the rugged good looks could actually serve a functional purpose. Hear me out.
The plastic cladding around the arches doesn’t just add style, it should let owners chip packed snow out of the wheel wells without fearing damage to the paint on the arches. So what if your ice scraper slips and you hit the fender? Plastic doesn’t rust. Mud flaps are also generally a good idea considering how things turn into a quagmire when the snow melts. In addition, these mud flaps look wide enough to keep stones from chipping the sills, a key instigator of rust. Think of the Thai-market Mirage Ralliart less as cosplay and more as four-season protection, and things suddenly start to make sense.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that all the bits you see here will appear on American Mirage Ralliart models. It’s also entirely possible that America’s Mirage Ralliart will get the body kit seen on Canada’s Mirage Carbon Edition. While I certainly wouldn’t be mad if that were the case, considering it’s a pretty stylish kit, the Thai-market Ralliart edition is more appealing because it’s just a little more bonkers.
While we wait patiently for official word on what cosmetic alterations the American Mirage Ralliart will feature, I’m afraid I have some bad news. Not only is the American-market Mirage getting more expensive for 2023, it’s also losing its manual gearbox. According to Mitsubishi, “For 2023, every Mirage and Mirage G4 will feature the effortless convenience of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) as standard equipment.”
[Editor’s Note: I don’t care how it looks, that ruins it. (And yes, I’ve managed to fix my inverted text issue that so plagued me when I first arrived in Australia yesterday.) -DT]
This means that no matter what our Mirage Ralliart will look like, it’ll put power down through a CVT. Partially as a result of the standard CVT, base price is on the rise to $17,290 including a freight charge of $1,045. That’s only $250 more than 2022’s ES CVT model but a massive $1,600 more than 2022’s ES manual model. While I can’t exactly call the five-speed manual in the Mirage a good gearbox, most anything with a manual is simply more fun than an equivalent automatic, and that really rings true with the Mirage.
With the impending discontinuation of the Chevrolet Spark, the Mitsubishi Mirage will be one of the last remaining subcompact hatchbacks sold in America. While the loss of a manual gearbox is a bummer, the potential for some Thai-market Ralliart cosmetic bits to come stateside has us on the edge of our seats. Pretty please, Mitsubishi?
Lead photo credit: Mitsubishi