The Mirage surely is one little achiever. In barely a year since the model was launched, it already won the title of 2012-2013 Car of the Year Philippines and, more importantly, it won over the hearts of many local drivers, which is probably why you’ll see so much of them on the road. But now, Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) is showcasing a different side of this eco car.
The word ‘performance’ may not exactly be the first thing that comes into mind when one sees a Mirage. This is why they’re letting some seasoned drivers and members of the motoring media hoon the Mirage in a four-leg Gymkhana invitational race to prove that it too can be exciting.
MMPC prepared two identical Mirages to be raced simultaneously on a tight figure of 8 track. This way, two drivers can go head-to-head on equal machines without actually going wheel-to-wheel or crash into each other.
Both machines were only ever so slightly tweaked to suit it for competitive driving —back seats removed, added a set of sticky Nitto tires, and K&N intake from Speedlab. The 1.2L three-cylinder MIVEC engine and five-speed manual transmission, were both otherwise untouched but, as they say, ‘it’s not the size that matters, it’s how you use it.’
Each team consists of a driver and navigator, where they’re given a total of four runs at the stage. They’d then switch roles after every run so both can have driving duties. As always, the name of the game is setting the fastest time, except that in the Mirage Gymkhana challenge, all four runs are tallied in the final score. Time penalties are then given for every cone hit.
The first leg was held on 29 June 2013 at the SM Mall of Asia parking lot beside the IMAX Theater. The tight and twisty track was comprised of a series of left- and right-hand 180-degree turns which never seemed to end, that is until, you miss the last turn and score full penalties in the process.
Though challenging, track layout was pretty straightforward that the lap times were really close. But despite everyone’s best efforts, the spoils of this round went to AutoIndustriya.com in 1st, Top Gear Philippines in 2nd, and Manila Bulletin coming in 3rd.
Leg 2 came three weeks later on 20 July 2013 at the Robinsons Nova Supermarket. A bigger venue allowed for a more creative track layout, which included two roundabouts, two stop boxes, and two reverse parking slots.
On this occasion, the times were more spread out as drivers found the task of reversing at speed a bit more difficult.
As hard as everyone tried, the team from C! Magazine was in a league of their own and finished in 1st, followed by Top Gear Philippines A in 2nd, and Top Gear Philippines B in 3rd.
After just two legs, it’s quite amazing how much fun these guys had throwing the mighty little Mirage around. You can see the rush of adrenaline and excitement in their faces, which goes to show that the Mitsubishi Mirage is not only practical, but can be a performer as well.
MMPC’s Mirage Gymkhana is sponsored by Pilipinas Shell Corporation, AVT, Nitto tires by Concept One, Speedlab, and 3M Philippines.
Words by Christopher Kho
First published in Gadgets Magazine, August 2013