Micro car winner: Mitsubishi Mirage ES - 2015 Australia's Best Cars

By NRMA Motoring on 25 February 2016
2015 Mitsubishi Mirage ES

Winner: Mitsubishi Mirage ES
Second: Suzuki Celerio
Third: Nissan Micra ST

Winner: Mitsubishi Mirage ES

This category does beg for a better title but what it does suggest is Micro Car should equal Micro Price! And it's the scoring in the Value for Money criteria that sees Mitsubishi Mirage flex its muscle to take the title for the second year in a row.

Mirage's running and repair costs and new car warranty are particular stand-outs. It boasts class-leading fuel consumption from its tiny 3cyl engine using regular unleaded fuel, and this is where city car buyers scrutinise the field because isn't this what it's all about?

It's affordable to buy and affordable to run, but wait, there's more; shouldn't the buying choice also offer a reasonable drive experience, notwithstanding the budget focus of buyers in this class? Yes, of course it should, and that is also where Mirage scores reasonably well for a city car. It's easy to drive and manoeuvre, and the engine performance is responsive and flexible.

The Mirage's 1.2L petrol engine produces 56kW and 100Nm of torque, and in entry level form comes with a 5spd manual transmission. Mirage can also be optioned with a CVT but naturally this comes at an extra cost. However, the equipment levels in the ES spec are quite generous and provide driver's seat height adjustment, air-conditioning with pollen filter, power windows, keyless central locking, electric steering and Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming and voice control.

The Mirage ES does have a higher-spec stablemate in Mirage LS which also obviously comes at a slightly higher cost but includes extras such as alloy wheels, cruise control, fog lights and climate-control air-conditioning to name a few, so there are choices if you want some further refinement on top of the standard offering. And for peace of mind, Mirage has a five-year/100,000km warranty.


City cars such as Mirage generally aren't tasked with people moving, so while there is plenty of room in the front for driver and passenger, space in the rear row of seating is challenging to say the least although still par for the course for the category. Mirage does offer some versatility here with a split-fold rear seat to increase the load area, but then so do most of the competitors in this class.

Always difficult to understand is the inclusion of a space-saver spare wheel where realistically the wheels on these small vehicles are not dimensionally challenging, and a full-size spare wheel could be accommodated within the wheel well in the boot. Nissan Micra was the only vehicle in the category that provided a full-size spare wheel this year.

To round off Mirage's appealing and competitive package is the most important aspect of motoring: a five-star ANCAP safety rating. This rating has always been more difficult to achieve for this class of vehicle, and significantly Mirage was the only five-star rated car in the finalist group.

Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, you couldn't really separate any of the five cars in this category on their environment credentials: Mirage and three others scored perfect 10s, and even then the other one still notched up nine points.

Affordable to buy, zippy, easy to drive, easy to park and with great fuel economy, Mirage leads the field again this year.

Second: Suzuki Celerio


Suzuki has been known for economical, reliable, cost-competitive vehicles for a very long time, so Celerio fills the brief and philosophy that Suzuki is very familiar with.

Following on from its Alto predecessor, Celerio brings a little more refinement to the overall drive experience, an attribute traditionally not high on the list for this class of vehicle. And this is where Celerio showed is strength, with a best-in-class score for handling and an equal best for ride.

The tiny 1.0L 3cyl engine is the smallest in our field and relies on unassisted induction to generate its modest 50kW of power. But what Celerio lacks in engine capacity it certainly makes up for with its claimed fuel consumption of only 4.7L/100kmh.

Celerio only has four seating positions, however city cars that can seat five would require passengers to be on the younger side of teenage, because three adults across the back seat in this vehicle class puts it somewhere between ultra-cosy and impossible on the comfort scale.

Celerio also comes with a space-saver spare wheel. All in all, Celerio provides zippy, economical performance backed up by unfussed driving attributes for those who need a vehicle for urban commuting. And nothing else comes anywhere near it on price, which is a huge plus in this budget category.

Third: Nissan Micra ST

Nissan-Micra-ST resize

Nissan's Micra enjoyed an equipment refresh in early 2015 and trimmed its range to two variants, ST and Ti, with a notable standard feature addition of cruise control to the entry-level ST.

It's questionable whether cruise control might be a well-used feature in this class but more and more people want it. Power windows are offered in the rear now and another noteworthy inclusion is a full-size matching spare wheel, which all up accounts for Micra's high standard features score. In fact, Micra is ahead overall in the Design and Function criteria for this group, and also fares pretty well with the On The Road scores.

Micra ST also comes with an optional 4spd automatic for an additional $1800, with the Ti variant only coming in automatic and getting a further serve of goodies such as alloy wheels, reversing camera and satellite navigation to name a few.

Micra has always been a great car to drive in the city and urban areas, easy to manoeuvre and park and has a generally nimble feeling in this environment.

Price-wise Micra struggles to compete with Mirage and Celerio but third spot on the podium is still a worthy result. Micra is certainly a vehicle to keep on the shopping list if this category interests you, and you can afford a little more on the spend.

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