Here’s Why Tuners in Southeast Asia Love the Mitsubishi Mirage

In America, the three-cylinder Mitsubishi Mirage is a car that just can't stop being joked at by people who call them wimpy, puny, or heaven-forbid a "pansies" car.
Mitsubishi Mirage 10 photos
Photo: Drift XAUST
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As despicable as it is to appropriate one's choice of car with their sexual orientation or whether or not it qualifies them as a "beta male," there are, unfortunately, more than a few people on the internet that genuinely believe this. A not-so-flattering review by Doug DeMuro did little to help matters.

But in Asia and a few other places, the Mirage is more than just a laughing stock. It's what frees people from the comically unsafe motor scooter. To these people, cars like the Mirage are their pride and joy, and they modify them accordingly. Granted, a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine making between 74 and 78 horsepower isn't all that great of a starting point. Not that this puny power stops people from trying.

Being that the engine is so gutless, owners of Mirages in far-east countries often start elsewhere. Starting many times, with a wicked-looking body kit. Believe it or not, a company in Thailand exists that builds custom fabricated body kits directly for use on this little eco-box. Siam Bodykits, as they're known, will ship you a range of different body kits with bitchin red and black accents for the front and rear bumpers anywhere in the world. And yes, that includes the United States.

It's also a much safer bet than the engine to take the wobbly and, frankly, pretty terrible suspension setup that comes with the Mirage and replace it with a kit sure to, at the very least, make it infinitely more fun to drive. These days, loads of different companies like BC racing, for one, will make a custom four-corner Coilover kit for just about any modern car, for the right price, of course.

Mitsubishi Mirage
Photo: DRIFT Xaust
American Mirage owners often complain that they can only find replacement shocks and struts through the dealer, often marked up by two or three times what they cost to make. Racing shocks is a solution to this problem that our friends in the Far East have come up with, which makes the car handle like a champ all at once.

A new suspension intrinsically needs bigger brakes, and that calls for bigger, chunkier wheels and tires. Just like in the US, urban centers in Asian countries like Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines have streets lined with aftermarket rim and tire shops that can make a Mirage grip and stop like an adequately tuned project car should. You might even be able to get a better deal on high-quality aloy-wheels from Japan as a citizen of a Far East country. Shipping expensive wheels all the way to the US is not cheap.

There's even a handful of the particularly brave DIY gurus in Thailand especially that try to squeeze every ounce of power out of their 1.2 liters and three cylinders they have to play with. There's even one post from a prominent online Mirage forum showing one Mirage G4 Sedan fitted with a Speedlap supercharger kit with a K&N air filter and a body kit setup fitting of a steroid injection.

Dyno tests rated the boosted three-banger at 91 horsepower. Still not great if you're used to 5.7 HEMIs and LS motors that make 450 minimum all day. But remember, the stock Mirage only weighs 2100 pounds (995 kg). In a package that light, and with a sorted suspension, you have something that's suddenly a lot less scorn worthy. We might even be tempted to call this creation a full-on driver's car. In a package that starts around $15,000 or so, it looks like our gearhead friends in Asia have snobby internet trolls with more egg on their face than what the Mirage could carry in its rear hatch, or trunk lid, if it's the G4.

Mitsubishi Mirage
So then, if you thought that it was impossible to make a Mirage "cool" or fun to drive, think again. But what would this whole exercise in humble pie eating mean without a little bit of context? A short while ago, we showcased an awesome custom 2016 Dodge Charger project from an American Instagrammer.

What makes cars like @john_hemi's Charger build make sense is not the car itself or the mods made. It works because the wide-open American highways fit modern Chargers just as well as these little Mirages fit the cramped, narrow roads of Southeast Asia the it most often finds themselves in. So before you say your two cents about the Mirage being a joke of a car, maybe bite your tongue first.
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