The Dirt-Cheap Mitsubishi Mirage Is Getting A Ralliart Edition And It Might Look Like This

Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart Topshot

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.

Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart Side
Photo credit: Mitsubishi

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.

Mirage Carbon Edition
Photo credit: Mitsubishi Motors Canada

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.

Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart Rear
Photo credit: Mitsubishi

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

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28 Responses

  1. Owned 2 classic Mitsubishis , the 1984 Colt GTS Turbo and a 1989 Mirage Turbo…stick a little snail on the exhaust, bring the power to 110 HP , put the RallyArt crap on it and bring back the legend…and Mitsubishi will become a standout again…

  2. I’m sure we’ll see a lot of negative comments here crapping on the Mirage. I bought one as an inexpensive commuter car back in 2015 for $11K out the door with a 10 year, 100,000 warranty that I never had to use. It gave me 6+ years of absolutely trouble free driving. That’s more than I can say for my current Tacoma and RAV4 both of which have had multiple problems in and out of their short warranty. The Mirage also got around 50mpg on just about every tank. I really miss that part. I think it was the most honest car I ever owned. Show it some love!

      1. It is absurd. But unfortunately that is one of the unspoken driving forces towards bigger cars and SUVs. Small cars don’t make money. The difference in material costs to build a small car vs a big car is very small, but you can’t sell a small car for big money. Even when small cars were more popular, they were often considered to be loss leaders for automakers: sold at a loss to win brand loyalty or improve fleet mpg scores. They don’t have to do that anymore, or it’s not important to them.
        For lower income buyers, the option was always to either buy a new small car with warranty or buy a bigger used car and risk maintenance costs. That’s not an issue anymore either, since anybody can get a loan for pretty much any car you want and buyers are willing to accept a huge monthly payment for a really long time. Plus, used cars aren’t the maintenance nightmare that they used to be, unless you buy a BMW.
        Put those things together and small cars go bye-bye.

      2. You are 100% correct. $17K is absurd. At the time I bought mine in 2015, the sticker was much lower and there were several large rebates available. I guess I should note that mine was a base model which has since been discontinued. I think that is a mistake on their part. The main attractions over a used car for me were the long warranty and the near Prius like gas mileage.

    1. That’s exactly what it needs to be and that’s what is missing from the auto industry. An affordable and simple car that works. It’s not the most attractive thing and it won’t blow the doors off anything but it will get you from point A to B reliably and for most people that’s fine.

      I have a friend who is a single mother, she bought a used Mirage with her income tax return in I want to say 2016. That thing took her to work, college, her kids many activities and she even kept driving it after she started her career. She only recently replaced it. No other car in her price range would have sufficed because everything else in that price range was beat to shit and wouldn’t have lasted as long. Without that car she probably wouldn’t be where she is now.

    2. Oh I think it will get that love.

      The Mirage’s stock has gone steady up in these parts after it really was clear that the carpocalypse/crossovermeggedon was real.

      And (at this point) beggars can’t be choosers. The very fact that it can be had with a manual covers a multitude of sins.

  3. Hell yeah brother, because nothing says RALLYING like *checks notes* a subcompact front wheel drive hatchback with 78 horsepower and a CVT!!!!

    I’m not as infuriated by Mitsubishi abandoning enthusiast cars as other people are, but I wish they’d leave stuff like this alone. Cashing in on their rallying/sports car heritage to put lipstick on a pig and sell more econoboxes that are demonstrably worse than their competition in every way is just lame as hell. If they’re going to do this I wish they’d at least give it some more pep so it could fill the Fiat 500 Abarth sized hole that currently exists in the tiny performance car segment. The Eclipse Cross bugs me too but at the same time, the Eclipse really wasn’t that great of a car to begin with.

    1. They still make manual transmission Mirages.

      Better slow car fast than fast car slow.

      That being said I wish I got a Fiat 500 Abarth back when they were still selling them in the US, same goes for the Manual transmission Smart cars

    2. Fully agree. As a lover of small cars, I despise this junk.
      It’s almost a scam to charge this much money for this thing. Just taking advantage of people in the lower income bracket that need a new car.

    3. This is classic Mitsubishi for sure…remember the “OZ Rally” edition Lancer, whose highlight was…nice wheels?

      I’d be happy if there were just a tepid-hatch version of the Mirage with say a slightly better suspension. Small cars are already fairly nimble, so play to that strength, give a manual, and let people sing their praises as this completely tossable commuter car.

    1. Owned 2 classic Mitsubishis , the 1984 Colt GTS Turbo and a 1989 Mirage Turbo…stick a little snail on the exhaust, bring the power to 110 HP , put the RallyArt crap on it and bring back the legend…and Mitsubishi will become a standout again… was

  4. eeeeeeeeek $17 for a base Mirage? That’s what happens when there’s no more competition. The Spark just ended production 🙁

    Nissan needs to sell the Renault Kwid over here. We need more cars that are affordable. This opens up the market for a Chinese company to enter in that segment.

  5. While I have a soft spot for the Mirage (and many small, cheap cars), I can’t understand why it costs more than the base model Nissan Versa? I was just on their site the other night and saw that it starts at $15,800. And the Versa is a much better car–its more powerful, better equipped, safer, and a newer design in general.

  6. “Does it snow in Thailand?

    No, Thailand does not have snow. It is unlikely if not impossible that you will see snow during your trip to Thailand. There are some reports of snow in Thailand during its winter in late 1955. The same year when the coldest temperature ever was recorded in Thailand.Mar 17, 2019”

    I thought the idea of snow in Thailand was an absurdist joke. Now I have vague confirmation that this is true. (I did one google search and that was enough for me).

  7. I’d get one if they made it available with the base Mirage G4 Sedan with the 5 speed manual. I want the stock steelies and the plastic cladding around the wheel wells, I don’t need the rest but I wouldn’t mind most of it.

    1. I was going to say, they spelled “endless frustration” wrong.

      The Ralliart package would’ve been a good way to send the stick out with a bang, or at least a pop. Another opportunity missed.

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