FLY LIKE A G4

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Mirage’s-sedan20130702NAMING a car is tricky—whatever it is that it’s going to be called needs to sound right in varied tongues. And that’s why the sedan version of Mitsubishi’s evocatively named Mirage won’t go by its “Attrage” moniker when it lands in the Philippines in the last quarter of the year, instead retaining the Mirage name but getting appended with the “G4” tag. Clearly, when in doubt, go alphanumeric.

In Thailand the car goes by Attrage (so presumably the name sounds right there), and it was recently previewed to journalists coming from around the region, as well those who flew in from North America. This multinational mix of invited press people hinted at the intended reach of this new model, which is global, and which explains the “G” in its shorter name, according to some Mitsubishi executives who were present at the program.

To showcase the G4, Mitsubishi opted for testing sessions at Thailand’s Bonanza International Speedway, located to the north of Bangkok (and about three hours’ slog through the country’s traffic jams). While the usual cone-dodging, throttling-and-braking and apex-cutting exercises marked the event—the intensity at which participants can do these entirely dependent on how nervous a particular Thai driving nanny sitting on the front passenger seat was—Mitsubishi also lined up a Nissan Almera, a Thailand-specific Honda Brio Amaze and a previous-gen Toyota Vios. Well, it was the Vios presently sold in the Philippines, the same one that will be replaced with the new one beginning tomorrow. Anyway, Mitsubishi’s point was quite clear; it wants to benchmark the G4 against some truly notable rivals whose strengths could either lie in refinement, space, ride comfort, fit and finish, and driving performance—or a mix of these.

Certainly, numbers don’t lie. And so Mitsubishi disclosed the dimensions of the rival cars relative to the G4, which showed Mitsubishi’s new B-segment sedan is shorter than the Almera and Vios but is significantly longer than the Brio. The G4 is narrower than all three competitors but is also taller. Interestingly, it trumps the rest in wheelbase length. Now such advantage—in theory, at least—translates to marginally more cabin space.

The comparo becomes trickier when it comes to driving impressions—a jumpy nanny, for starters, was enough to tilt the playing field. A single lap per car on a track punctuated by chicanes and stop boxes also meant making a fair appraisal quite difficult. Suffice it to say the G4 stacked up well beside its competition.


Which isn’t bad at all if for the fact that its engine is down one cylinder and 100cc to 300cc against the Vios, and a cylinder down against the Brio (the Almera in Thailand also has a three-pot mill, although our version here runs on the larger 1.5-liter engine).

The G4, like its hatchback sibling, packs a 1.2-liter, 12-valve, three-cylinder engine that received Mitsubishi’s MIVEC variable valve timing system, which in turn is governed by two camshafts. This engine makes 77 horsepower at 6,000rpm and 100 Newton-meter of torque at 4,000rpm, and can be mated to either a continuously variable transmission or a five-speed manual gearbox.

The G4 also shares the architecture of the hatchback—both are built side-by-side at Mitsubishi’s Laem Chabang manufacturing plant in Thailand, which serves as the models’ hub in the region. So, like the Mirage, the G4 is built around a skeleton made from lightweight but high-strength steel, allowing it to take advantage of whatever modest power rating the car’s small engine outputs. Mitsubishi’s presentation material showed it is the lightest, at 930 kilograms, among the Vios/Almera/Brio trio, too, as well as packing the best power-to-weight ratio. This means adequate acceleration and miserly fuel consumption—22 kilometers to a liter, Mitsubishi reckons. Throw in the mix a cabin that’s pleasing enough, offers up enough space for four, and in the top variants is spruced by shiny bits and other modern equipment.

Now wrap all these up in a package that’s a bit more mature than the Mirage’s—the G4 gets a grille and some chrome pieces, for instance—and which boasts the added benefit of more cargo space courtesy of a trunk, and the G4 becomes a compelling B-segment sedan alternative indeed. Surely, the price point is quite thorny in this class, but it’s clear the G4 intends to fly on value rather than on a low price tag.

And that sounds right.

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