Home » The Tiny 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart Looks Just As Outlandish As We Hoped

The Tiny 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart Looks Just As Outlandish As We Hoped

Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart Topshot
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In 2022, Mitsubishi announced that its budget Mirage hatchback would be getting a Ralliart Edition at some point in 2023 in one of the thinner press releases I’ve seen in recent history. Apart from confirming the model’s existence and telling us the paint scheme, the release made no mention of special equipment and no photos of what such a machine might look like. Naturally, I took a shot in the dark and predicted that the U.S.-market Mirage Ralliart would look like the one Thailand gets. Well, after months of waiting, our Mirage Ralliart is finally here. Time to see if I’m having humble pie for lunch.

Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart 1

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Well, the mud flaps are now black, but the American-spec 2023 Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart appears virtually identical to the global model. This means it gets plastic slabs around the arches, black 15-inch alloy wheels, a graphics package straight out of Need For Speed: Pro Street, and a handful of black accents to zhuzh up the exterior. On the inside, purple-ish upholstery reminiscent of that in early high-spec Mirage models is back, while a smattering of bright red accents bring a little bit of Warped Tour to the cabin. However, that’s where the upgrades stop — no suspension tweaks, big brakes, nor powertrain upgrades here.

Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart 2

It’s easy to dismiss the Mirage Ralliart as a commuter car cosplaying as competition-bred, even if that’s what it largely is. It bears nearly zero resemblance to the Evo X-powered Mirage R5 rally car, cranking out 78 horsepower from a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine roughly the size of the car’s own 12-volt lead acid battery. The only choice for getting that motivation to the wheels is a continuously variable transmission, and the rear brakes are still drums. However, I don’t think the Mirage Ralliart actually needs performance upgrades. [Editor’s Note: Thomas won’t do it, but I will absolutely voice my deep disappointment that the coolest version of the current Mitsubishi Mirage doesn’t come with a stick. It ain’t right! -DT]. 

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Mitsubishi Lancer Oz Rally

This isn’t the first time Mitsubishi has made something like this: Remember the Lancer OZ Rally? Here was a fairly basic Lancer with OZ wheels, a body kit, natty black-on-white gauge faces from the Evo VII, and special floor mats. It still put out a pedestrian 120 horsepower, but that didn’t matter because this thing sold and it was memorable. See, many people just want the illusion of performance in an economy car because sports suspension can feel harsh, a bigger engine means bigger fuel bills, and higher performance often comes with higher insurance premiums. Consider time stuck in traffic between sky cube and cubicle, and 120 horsepower does just fine. From the neat wheels to bright optional paints, the Lancer OZ Rally was a spot of sunshine every dreary winter day.

Looking around at the current automotive landscape makes me wonder: When did we stop being allowed to have visually-fun cheap cars? Twenty years ago, the budget car market was in a very different place. You could order a Toyota Echo with flares and skirts, go square with a Scion xB, get a chunky lip kit on a Chevrolet Cavalier, or even get a little bit weird with a Suzuki Aerio. Cheap cars came in yellows and bright blues and conspicuous golds, largely free of premium aspirations but firmly tasked with simply being cars. Sure, that trend of body kits on stock economy cars was a bit stupid, but so was Super Troopers, and I bet you watched it twice.

Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart 3

In a flurry of soft-touch plastics and noise reduction measures, automakers have largely forgotten that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating getting from point A to point B in reasonable comfort and economy with some cosmetic add-ons. Sure, the Mirage corners like an air mattress, but it doesn’t ride badly over pockmarked pavement, gets an honest 40-plus MPG at a 60 mph cruise, and comes with a ten-year / 100,000-mile powertrain warranty. You know what’s really great? A car that works and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

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In 2023, the Mitsubishi Mirage’s only sin is that it costs nigh-on as much as a Kia Rio hatchback, and that’s hardly enough to condemn it. After all, if you want the reliability of a brand new car but need to keep the sticker below $20,000, you only have three options — Mirage, Rio, and Nissan Versa. What people choose often comes down to whatever is on the lot.

Mitsubishi Mirage Ralliart 4

While its spoiler likely doesn’t provide much downforce and its no more off-road capable than a standard model, the Mirage Ralliart is good because it livens up our roads a touch. It’s a bit of unusual whimsy for the grey, crossover-laden roads of 2023. Although its price tag of $19,550 is on the high side compared to a base Mirage, this loaded-up trim is cheaper than the $20,915 Nissan Versa SR or the $20,615 Kia Rio S Technology Package. Plus, neither of those competitors feel quite as outlandish as a Mitsubishi that looks like a skate shoe.

(Photo credits: Mitsubishi)

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John de Wit
John de Wit
11 months ago

Looking for an affordable car for my daughter: So many Fiestas (transmission grenades!) and Cruzes (would you prefer oil leaks or coolant leaks?). We ended up with a Fiat 500 cabrio because sometimes, girls just want to have fun.

SomeIntern
SomeIntern
11 months ago

Oh god I saw one of these in person it was abhorrent.

Acevedo12
Acevedo12
11 months ago

That NFS Pro Street throwback is hilariously accurate. People don’t remember it fondly, but that game is definitely in my top 5 of the series

FuzzyPlushroom
FuzzyPlushroom
11 months ago

As a small hatchback owner these days… sadly, I’m with everyone else where the transmission’s concerned. If you’re going to pretend it’s sporty, let me row my own gears, even if there are only five, the shifter’s rubbery, and the clutch is a light springy digital switch. And my Yaris has a four-speed autobox… but it’s not pretending to be sporty, is it?

I appreciate Mitsubishi’s attempt to get people excited about basic transportation, because I enjoy seeing more Mirages and other small cars on the road, but by making what amounts to a tape-stripe package aggressively performance-suggestive, they’ve stepped on their own parts here. Bring the stick back for just this model, consider an intake/exhaust tune to add a single-digit number of HP, give it slightly lower/firmer suspension and those 15″-probably alloys, and I’d be down.

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