Mirage is a compact car that’s not small-minded

There are times when choosing a small car makes big sense but, at the same time, being small-minded in making the choice should not be an option.

If all you’ll ever need is two seats or possibly one, in which case the more sensible options might be a sports car or an electric unicycle, then you need to give some consideration to what follows behind the seat you normally occupy as driver or front seat passenger.

If the answer is real-sized people then you’ll need a small car that brings the option of installing genuine adults through the rear doors who then find they actually have the ability to sit where you put them in a genuine degree of comfort.

Achieving such a blend of abilities in a city-size car may seem a contradiction but then you may not have met the Mitsubishi Mirage Juro. It’s the latest revision of the Japanese maker’s smallest model – an update that saw the range simplified but not actually shrunk to the point where life behind the wheel becomes miserable.

Half a century ago, if you bought a small car even heaters might be considered an option and there are many of us around who can remember the joys of using a scraper on the inside of the windscreen while driving in winter. The best way to avoid frost inside was to stop breathing, although it was a ploy best employed for very short journeys.

Anyone who has visited a car showroom in search of a car on the new 66 registration will probably have been dismayed by the length of options lists. The choices can seem bewildering yet with the Mirage Juro simplicity when speccing the car is not a mirage. There truly is only the choice of whether or not to have metallic paint. That doesn’t mean the Juro is driving you to a life of parsimony, exactly the opposite. There is no options list because everything you might want fitted is already there.

The Mirage range is just two derivatives, the Juro 1.2 manual and the Juro 1.2 CVT automatic. The manual costs £11,554 on the road and the auto £1,000 more. You’ll warm to them in winter especially, unlike the small cars of yesteryear, because climate control air conditioning will keep the windows clear while heated front seats avoid the need to wear thermals.

If anything, the Juro CVT makes perfect sense as a city car. Its dimensions are shrunken enough to fit even the most miserable excuse for a garage that accompanies many modern houses while the Mirage also fits into what town planners and architects still insist is a parking space. Yet inside there is more than sufficient space for four adults while ISOFix seat mountings and three full seat belts across the rear make this a genuine family runaround.

Not that city life is the sole domain of the Mirage. The 1.2 litre three cylinder petrol engine offers 79 bhp, more than enough to give the car a decent turn of speed. And economy, with 65.7 mpg on the combined cycle for either the manual car or the CVT is pretty decent. It dismisses the theory that an auto always uses more fuel.

The CVT is very relaxing to drive. Point and squirt motoring is its forte and it pulls away smartly when the lights change from red to green. But the city limits are not a constraining factor because it’s equally capable of life on the open road, where taut handling lets it tackle bends with gusto.

The lack of body roll also means your shopping stays put in the boot, which offers 235 litres with the seats in place and 910 litres when they’re folded, so you can give it the beans without your tins rolling out of sight.

Maurice and Annette Hardy

Car: Mitsubishi Mirage Juro 1.2 CVT

Does it fit your ego...

0-62 mph: 12.8 secs

Top speed: 107 mph

Bhp: 79 @ 6000 rpm

Torque: 84 lb ft @ 4000 rpm

...and your wallet...

Price: £12,554

Combined: 65.7 mpg

CO2 emissions: 99 g/km

Best bits: practicality is no mirage