Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) reported that it ended 2013 with December year-over-year sales up 56.2 percent against 2012’s numbers. Additionally, Mitsubishi’s overall sales for 2013 show a 7.7 percent increase, proving the automaker’s viability in a competitive industry that enjoyed its best year since the beginning of the recession.
Mitsubishi’s top earner was the Outlander GT, whose 2013 year model won the “Best All-Around Performance Award” from the Automotive Science Group. The Outlander GT moved 2,358 units in December, which was an increase of nearly a full third over December 2012’s sales. Furthermore, the 2014 Outlander sold 1,289 units and made year-over-year gains of 102 percent.
“This marked MMNA’s best December sales in seven years,” said MMNA President & CEO Yoichi Yokozawa, in the automaker’s official press release. “Our sales were up 27 percent July through December compared to the prior year, so we are pleased to take tremendous momentum into the New Year.”
The Mitsubishi Mirage, also all-new for the 2014 model year, moved 1,388 units in only its second full month of sales, which was a 32 percent better performance than November’s figures.
“We believe customers are growing in confidence that Mitsubishi offers a unique combination of safety and fuel efficiency in our vehicles,” Yokozawa added. “These are attributes of our brand that will resonate with consumers into 2014 and beyond.”
Other highlights from December include the first instance of back-to-back 6,000+ sales months for Mitsubishi since July and August of 2011, the highest monthly sales total since March 2012, the Outlander GT’s third best-ever month since its inception, and the Outlander’s best December since 2006.
Mitsubishi’s overall sales for 2013 increased thanks in large part to sales increases for the Outlander GT (appx. 38 percent), Outlander (58.5 percent), Lancer (22.7 percent), Lancer Evolution (2.1 percent), and i-MiEV (75 percent).
Mitsubishi’s first Canadian subcompact, the Mirage is built in Thailand for the global market. It’s already on sale in Japan, Australia and Europe, was unveiled for North America at the New York auto show last spring, and has just arrived at Canadian dealerships.
The 1.2-litre, all-aluminum, in-line three generates only 74 hp and 74 lb.-ft. of torque. Although most competitors offer more of both, the Mirage compensates with less weight, tipping the scales at a svelte 895 kg.
The engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox or, more interesting and efficient, a continuously variable transmission (or CVT, a system derided for its resemblance to a motorboat pushing through molasses).
Mitsubishi says its CVT variant — in the first application anywhere — improves matters by adding a second external gear, expanding the range of potential ratios and, in turn, making the engine more smooth and efficient.
The Mirage also incorporates a new system for mounting the engine — it hangs from two pendulums rather than sitting on a frame — to reduce the rock and roll inherent with three cylinders.
The compression ratio is above average, at 10.5:1, and a redesigned oil pump cuts friction to boost efficiency.
These alterations, along with the low weight and an aerodynamic shape — at 0.28, the drag number is almost as good as the 0.25 measured for Toyota’s Prius hatchback — help the Mirage trundle from zero to 100 km/h in 11 seconds.
It’s not heart-palpitating, but it’s agile and fast enough for the urban driving it’s intended for, and adequate for highway jaunts.
These features, and a device that automatically shifts the transmission to neutral at stops, produce official fuel economy ratings of 4.4 L/100 km on the highway and 5.3 in city driving. The highway figure makes the Mirage Canada’s most fuel-efficient non-hybrid, Mitsubishi says. (The ratings for the manual transmission are 4.6 and 5.9.)
Safety features include front and side airbags, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes and brake force distribution.
Mitsubishi hopes all this, and a warranty covering the power train for 10 years and the rest of the car for five, will entice the group that comprises three-quarters of subcompact buyers — older people, with an average age of 54 and nearly 60 per cent women, who are downsizing from bigger vehicles.
That focus is reinforced by TV and video ads featuring classical music, instead of the ubiquitous high-energy pop/techno/hip-hop.
(The other 25 per cent are 30-ish, two-thirds of them female, purchasing their first car.)
For most buyers, though, the price won’t be the $12,498 for the base ES model.
Opting for the CVT over the five-speed manual adds $1,200, and moving up to the SE, necessary to get air conditioning, costs $15,398 with the manual gearbox and 16,598 with the automatic. That’s the version Mitsubishi expects to be most popular here.
Come into Fraser Valley Mitsubishi and Test Drive one of the All New Mitsubishi Mirage’s now available for sale. Fraser Valley Mitsubishi Services, Abbotsford, Hope, Mission, Agassiz, Harrison Hotsprings and the Greater Fraser Valley Area.
Come out to Fraser Valley Mitsubishi and see the all New completely completely revamped Outlander, and a new compact car this fall add up to a busy year for Mitsubishi. Although a total vehicle lineup of five may not sound like much, it’s a 20% growth increase for Canada’s smallest mainstream auto manufacturer.
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