The History Of Mitsubishi Mirage Wagon

The Mitsubishi Mirage is a subcompact car produced by Mitsubishi Motors from 1978 to 2002. It was also sold as the Mitsubishi Colt or Lancer Fiore.

Mitsubishi launched the Mirage as a three-door front wheel drive hatchback in 1978, as a response to the first fuel crisis some years before. It had a distinctive design with large windows and Mitsubishi's 'Supershift' transmission (four speeds, but two modes). A five-door joined the range in 1979. This version of the Mirage was exported to the United States as the Dodge Colt and Plymouth Champ from 1979 and received the highest United States Environmental Protection Agency‎ fuel economy rating that year.

A 1600 cc engine joined the range in 1979.

In 1981, the Lancer Fiore, not to be confused with the regular Mitsubishi Lancer, was launched. The Fiore was a four-door version of the Mirage. At the same time, the range was facelifted.

In 1982, a turbocharged, 105 PS (77 kW) version of the 1400 cc engine was made available.

In many countries, this car was known as the Mitsubishi Colt. In the United Kingdom, where Colt was the marque, it was called the Colt 1200 and Colt 1400, after the size of the engines, which it shared with the larger Lancer.

Since most overseas markets did not have the Minica keicar, the Mirage was the entry-level model.

Local CKD assembly of the Mirage took place in New Zealand by the Todd Motor Corp., where there was a sports equivalent called the Mirage Panther in the early 1980s. The replacement Mirage Turbo had the distinction of being that country's first locally assembled turbocharged car from 1982.

The facelifted model was also built by Mitsubishi of Australia, and had an unusually long model life, from 1981 to 1990. The Australians offered the Colt with the 1.4 L engine, and a larger 1.6 L. This model was imported for a short time to New Zealand in the late 1980s, where it was sharing showroom space with the locally assembled third generation models.

Mitsubishi launched a new Colt in 1983, still splitting the range into Mirage (three- and five-door hatchback) and Lancer Fiore (four-door sedan) models, though some export markets did sell the four-door as the Mirage. A station wagon was added in 1985 and a four-wheel-drive wagon in 1986.

Engine power for the 4G32BT engine for the USDM "Turbo Sport" model, was 105 horsepower; the 3 door hatchback Turbo Sport weighted in at a low 2005 USDM pounds.

Many export markets sold the hatchbacks as the Mirage or Colt, and the sedan and station wagon as the Lancer.

A commercial version of the wagon was sold in New Zealand as the Mitsubishi Express, replacing an earlier model based on the Mitsubishi Galant Sigma.

New engines were added: the 1300 and 1500 cc engines replaced the 1200 and 1400; an 1800 cc diesel was also added.

The Mirage was not sold in the United States by Mitsubishi until 1985, and it was this version that made the marque's début there.

The four-door model formed the basis of the Proton Saga, Malaysia's first locally built car. Proton would spin the Saga off into a five-door hatchback (styled differently from Mitsubishi's own five-door hatch version) called the Saga Aeroback in 1987.

Versions available

The Mirage was available in Europe as the Mitsubishi Colt, and the following versions were offered:

  • 1300 GL 3-door
  • 1300 GL 5-door
  • 1500 GLX 5-door
  • 1800 GLD 5-door

The Lancer saloon was available in the same trim levels as the hatchback model, while the estate versions were available as 1500 GLX and 1800 GLD only.

Australia got only the 1300 GL and 1500 GLX versions.

The Colt sold well in Europe but in Denmark it was one of the country's top-selling cars.

The 1987 third-generation Mirage was stylistically distinct: Mitsubishi had scored well with its revamped Galant and transferred its styling to the smaller cars. The basic model was a three-door with an upright tailgate. The top Mirages in Japan were called the Mirage Cyborg, featuring a turbocharged 1600 cc engine developing 145 PS (107 kW).

Engines available were 1.3 and 1.5 12-valve 4-cylinder engines, and 1.6 and 1.8 16-valve 4-cylinder engines. European versions were available in 1300 GL, 1500 GLX, 1600 GTi, 1800 GTi 16v versions.

Four-door models were usually called Lancer overseas, but Mirage (usually Mirage Vie Saloon) inside Japan. In Australia, all the models in this range were badged Mitsubishi Lancer.

The 1989–92 model year Mirage was also sold as the Dodge/ Plymouth Colt (as a hatchback) and the Eagle Summit in the US. In Canada, the Mirage sedan that time was known as the Dodge/ Plymouth Colt, because Mitsubishis weren't sold in Canada up until the 2003 model year.

The Mirage Turbo was on Car and Driver's Ten Best list for 1989.

The five-door hatchback and station wagon were carried over, though a five-door liftback was launched not long after the rest of the range on the new platform.


The 1991 Mirage three-door was more rounded and sportier than its predecessor, and the range of engines grew to include a 1600 cc 24-valve V6. The standard engine was a 1600 cc 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder unit, but a 1400 cc engine was still available. This model launched in North America for the 1993 model year.

The four-door Mirage, with a six-window greenhouse and different sheetmetal to the Lancer, was sold as the Eagle Summit in the US. It was generally not offered in countries other than Japan, Canada and the United States. The Japanese models saw the Vie Saloon tag continue. (These were known as the 'CB' chassis in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the globe.)

In 1991 the 4th Generation or 'CC' chassis platform changed to a modern more stylish rounder shape to its predecessors. A two-door coupe was introduced based on the Mirage (the Asti in Japan) and sold outside Japan to a number of countries around the world as the 'CC' chassis Mirage (in New Zealand and United States), and the Lancer coupe in Australia. These deliveries mainly saw a Front wheel drive 1500cc 8 valve SOHC caburettor engine in the base GL model, or a 1800cc SOHC 8 valve EFI engine in the higher GLXi variant in Australia, and the same engines were offered in New Zealand and overseas but in a choice of either Front Wheel Drive or All wheel drive variant, and either a 2-door, 3-door (Cyborg) or 4-door shape. This is where the first MIVEC 1600cc engines started to roll out in Mitsubishi platforms. The 2 door CC coupe was sold with the CA5A chassis description. Mitsubishi's engine choices were vast with this new platform. Their most popular were the 4G15 1.5 Carburetor, 4G93 1.8 EFI, 4G93 1.8 DOHC EFI, 4G92 1.6 MIVEC EFI, a 4G91 1.8 DOHC caburetor, and even a 6A10 (V6)and 4D68 Turbo Diesel all in either a front wheel drive or All Wheel Drive format. The 2.0L 4G63 turbo was an option only in the United States, but was quickly dropped in favor of using this power option in the soon to be released Lancer Evolution I.

Proton took over the license to this design for its range from 1997 onwards and it is still offered in some countries as the Proton Satria (three-door, ex Cyborg) and Proton Wira (four and five-door), Proton M21/ Putra coupe (2-door), or 200 and 400 series. Not only is the car still being built by Proton, but they also developed a pickup/ ute variant of the chassis and named it the Proton Jumbuck.

Mitsubishi started manufacturing the fourth generation/ CC platform in 1992, it was taken over by Proton in 1996/ 97 and is still being utilised in 2006.

With the split between the name Asti/ Mirage/ Lancer namesake spanning over several countries it created somewhat of a confusion but something that all models share is the 'CC' chassis platform. The rounder shape of the Asti/ Mirage/ Lancer coupe, hatch and 4 door sedan gave them a modern sportier appearance different from the squarer 'CC' chassis of the Mirage/ Lancer sold alongside it in the showroom floor. These squarer 4th Generation versions of the Lancer/ Mirage sedan and wagon (as pictured to the right) had the similar appearance as the popular Evolution Lancer 1-3 models which were used in rally. These models were available in sedan or wagon and either FWD or AWD. A 1800cc DOHC Turbo 145kw version of the Lancer Sedan was sold as the "GSR Turbo" variant in Australia and New Zealand, and the AWD turbo wagon was only available in New Zealand under the "Libero" name. These versions were based on the EVO 1-3 models, but only offered with a 1800cc 4G93T turbo engine, not the 2000cc 4G63T turbo engine as in the EVO models.

A new Mirage was launched in 1995 and called the 'CE' or 5th Generation chassis. The range was rationalized to a two-door coupe (still called Mirage Asti in Japan), three-door hatchback and a four-door sedan, all but the three-door being called Lancer in export markets. A station wagon on this platform was offered but never as a Mirage, in either Japan or overseas. In Japan it had Libero badges. It is usually considered part of the Lancer lineage, not the Mirage one.

By 2003, the only Mirage sold in Japan was the coupé, without the Asti designation.

Due to Mitsubishi's financial troubles, this version of the Mirage stayed in production to 2003, with minor facelifts along the way. Despite a new Lancer (the Lancer Cedia) in 2000, many countries (including Thailand and New Zealand) still sold this generation as late as 2003. The United States, which sold the range as the Mirage from 1997 to 2002, replaced it with the Lancer Cedia (called plain Lancer there and in all other export markets) from 2002.

With the rising popularity of boxy compact and subcompact SUVs in Japan, the Mirage nameplate was used on a domestic market-only model called the Mirage Dingo, from 1999. The Dingo was facelifted in 2001 and cancelled in 2003.

However, New Zealand sold a very different Mirage in 2002: a rebadged, Dutch-made Mitsubishi Space Star. The vehicle was not very popular and was soon discontinued.

Most countries replaced the Mirage with the Mitsubishi Colt, sharing a platform with the Smart Forfour, in 2004.

  • 2nd generation (1985-1988) Turbocharged variant available
  • 3rd generation Mirage (1989-1992) was available as a sedan and hatchback in five different trim levels with 2 or 4 doors.
In 1989 only, the top hatchback model carried a 135 HP 1.6L I4 (4G61T) turbo engine. 1991 saw the 1.5-liter (4G15) engine's new 3-valve heads boosting horsepower from 81 to 92, and a new GS sedan with a 123 HP 1.6-liter DOHC engine (4G61) and exclusive 4-speed automatic transmission.
  • Larger-yet-lighter 4th generation Mirage (1993-1996) was available as a 2-door coupe or 4-door sedan in S / ES / LS trims, all with curvier styling and a new multilink rear suspension, and all now sourced from Japan (instead of Japan or Illinois). Mitsubishi kept the base 92 HP 1.5L 4-cylinder engine (4G15) but offered ES and LS sedans with a new 113 HP 1.8L 4-cylinder (4G93).
1994 brought a new driver's-side airbag. The LS sedan lost its optional antilock brakes but the LS coupe gained the 1.8-liter engine previously exclusive to sedans. 1994 was the last year of retail sales for Mirage sedans (they became limited to fleets) and for the Dodge / Plymouth Colt altogether, though the rare Eagle Summit lived alongside the Mirage through 1996. Only S and LS coupes returned for 1995, which both enjoyed the new passenger's side airbag (deleting the motorized seatbelt) and covered center console. The LS coupe finally gained 14-inch wheels but lost access to power windows, power locks, and cruise control.
  • 5th generation Mirage (1997-2002) was again available in sedan and coupe versions; the sedan slightly grew and the coupe slightly shrunk (as did the gas tank). The 1.5L and 1.8L I4 engines from the last Mirage returned in DE and LS trims, respectively; the automatic transmission was now a 4-speed for both engines.
1998 brought a stronger starter and battery 1999 brought a slight restyling, plainer seat fabric, and for the LS coupe, white-faced gauges and a tachometer with either transmission (it was formerly exclusive to manual models) 2000 brought more standard equipment for both sedans, most notably the 1.8L engine to the DE sedan; antilock brakes were deleted from the options list 2001 had the DE sedan renamed ES 2002 brought death to all sedans since the Lancer had already arrived, but coupes lived on for the Mirage's last year in America 2000 In Puerto Rico, the Mirage had extra trim levels such as the Mirage Technica, Mirage Playero, Technica Evolution V, and the Technica Evolution VI. 4G15 SOHC was offered in the Mirage Playero, the Technica and Technica Evolution V , IV had the more powerful 4G93 SOHC engine.

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