Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Big Baguio Test: Driving the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 to the Philippines's Summer Capital

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Thirty five liters—it’s not exactly much to go by, especially for a 267-kilometer drive to Baguio. Whether you’re putting pedal to the metal or driving gingerly, you’ll most likely eat through 35 liters on a one-way trip up to the Philippines’s summer capital. This is all well and good if you’re driving a car that has a 45-, 60-, or even 70-liter tank—you have a lot more fuel to play with, a bigger margin for error if you will. But what if you’re tasked to drive a car with a 35-liter tank all the way to Baguio? Forgetting that this is a fuel economy run, the real test for the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 is if it can prove its worth outside the city; if it can reach Baguio with some fuel left in the tank and four passengers who’ll find the journey comfortable and relaxing. Glad to say, the Mitsubishi Mirage G4 passed with flying colors.

Meeting up at DCT Holdings, a Mitsubishi dealership located along EDSA-Balintawak, members who’re participating in this fuel economy run were divided into teams of 3 or 4. As luck would have it, I was teamed up with the Autoindustriya team that consisted of Eric Tipan and two of the “healthiest” motoring media out there: editor-in-chief Vince Pornelos and photographer Jet Rabe. Though Mitsubishi engineered the Mirage G4 to have one of the lightest, if not the lightest, curb weight in its class (ranging from 870-905 kilograms), having a fully-loaded car certainly won’t do wonders for fuel economy. Still, we shrugged off our clear disadvantage and worked out strategy while staying within the spirit of the rules. What rules? Simple: drive within the NLEX, SCTEX, and TPLEX’s recommended speed limit with air conditioning on.

Though Mitsubishi executives didn’t clearly spell out not to do outrageous things like pushing the Mirage G4 through the toll gate or coasting with the engine off, our team felt these were just too dangerous considering we were traveling on public roads in a 10-car convoy. And so, we simply inflated the Bridgestone Ecopia EP150 a few PSI above the recommended tire pressure and set off to the Shell Tabang station for our official fill-up.

With fuel eco run veteran Vince volunteering to drive our humble GLX M/T, he did his best to learn the most economical way to drive the Mirage G4 en route to the Shell station. Vince carefully took note of when the Mirage G4 achieved the highest speed at the lowest engine rpms. Using the on-board trip computer that measures mileage real-time, he concluded that a speed of 70-80 km/h at fifth gear was most economical. As teams took turns filling up and shaking the car (to remove air pockets that built up in the fuel tank), our team lessened as much weight as possible. This even included emptying the washer reservoir. After loading up on Shell Fuel Save unleaded, we flagged off. The fuel economy challenge officially began.

The first dozen kilometers on NLEX was uneventful—our team was happy staying on the right side, letting faster traffic zoom us by. Vince noted that the Bridgestone Ecopia tires has excellent rolling resistance, allowing him to maintain speed without needing to press the accelerator as much. However, as soon as we reached the Candaba Viaduct, our pace turned to a crawl—there were some road works, causing everyone to squeeze into a single lane. Acting as spotters for Vince, we told him when to turn on or turn off the engine (our own version of traffic idle start/stop) saving us some precious liters in the process. As we made our way through the 5-kilometer stretch of traffic, we almost wanted to push the car. But we didn’t give into the temptation and simply stayed inside in the comfort and safety of the Mirage G4.

As soon as we passed the Candaba Viaduct, traffic opened up and we were up to our usual 70-80 km/h pace once more. The rest of the journey was once again uneventful, as the Mirage G4 breezed through SCTEX and the newly opened TPLEX. Aside from Vince consciously driving economically and us looking for potential traffic up ahead, we didn’t do much else. We listened to music in the Mirage G4’s standard iPod-capable sound system and enjoyed the cool breeze of the air conditioning. Reaching Shell Urdaneta, it was the moment of truth. Filling up to the brim (including a couple of strong shakes), our car sipped just 5.23 liters of fuel. That’s good enough for 28.5 km/L—surpassing Mitsubishi’s internal figure of 21 km/L, a remarkable feat for any car, let alone for one that’s designed to run in the city.

After a hearty lunch, everyone made their way to the Baguio Country Club, the final destination of this road trip, in double time. With the fuel economy challenge now over, everyone pushed the Mirage G4’s 1.2-liter 3-cylinder MIVEC engine. Already proving its worth at the Mirage Gymkhana Challenge last year, the 78 PS, 100 Nm engine successfully carried everyone via Marcos Highway. Though the suspension is largely tuned for comfort, some teams actually had a bit more fun, doing spontaneous Tōge Battles (Japanese mountain pass racing). Staying in the back seat for the entire duration of the five-hour trip, the Mirage G4 proved to be very comfortable and spacious. Taking in the chilly weather, it was time for dinner and the moment of truth: awarding for this fuel economy run.

We were convinced that our 28.5 km/L reading was enough for the win. In reality, it was only good for first runner-up. Another set of fuel economy veterans, Team Auto Review, composed of Ron delos Reyes, his son, Ronald delos Reyes, and cameraman Dave Madrid bested us with a figure north of 33.6 km/L (they sipped just 4.52 liters)! Still, we were pretty happy given we emulated real-world driving and didn’t resort to outrageous and unsafe fuel eco run tricks. What’s even more surprising is that the remaining 8 teams all managed to average 18.9 km/L for the CVT and 22.2 km/L for the manual, consistent with Mitsubishi’s own 21 km/L, figures achieved in test conditions. It certainly proves that the Mirage G4 isn’t just a commendable car for city driving, but an equally capable, comfortable, and fuel-efficient car for the occasional out-of-town trip, whoever might be behind the wheel.

Team Result (km/L) Actual Trip (km) Liters Loaded
Mirage 1.2 M/T
Auto Review 33.6 152.0 4.523
Philippine Star
28.5 148.8 5.229
Philippine Daily Inquirer 17.4 150.9 8.650
Business Mirror
Time Attack Manila
Power Wheels
17.1 151.4 8.877
Top Gear Philippines
Business World
14.3 150.7 10.549
Mirage 1.2 CVT
Autocar Philippines
Manila Standard Today
26.0 151.9 5.843
The Manila Times
17.7 150.6 8.532
The Manila Times
Turbo Zone
17.5 151.5 8.665
C! Magazine 16.8 150.9 8.989
The Manila Bulletin 16.6 150.8 9.074


  1. The G4 has a fuel tank capacity of 42 liters, 7 more than the hatchback model.

  2. last Summer drove my G4 GLX with my wife, daughter and son for a three week vacation in the north. WE travelled from Manila to Bulacan, visiting my parents, Lingayen for my wife's parent, La Union, Vigan, Laog, Pagudpod, Aparri, Tuguegarao, Santiago- we visited Mitsubishi shop for check up, the car is ok so far . Then we climb Banawe before Lunch and then Sagada the following day. We stayed there for two days and went to Lepanto mines then headed to Baguio before going back to Manila. It took us 2200 kms for that 3 weeks trip. I noticed that at 70-80 kph i got 20.7 km/L. at 90kph 19.1km/L. Many people said the mirage won't make it to Sagada, but they all proven wrong . The mirage was very competitive as we negotiate the zigzag going up to Sagada. Amazing small engine!

  3. I am torn relentlessly between buying a Hyundai Accent sedan 1.4L AT and Grand i10 1.0L AT but after reading this review I am now seriously contemplating the Mirage G4 1.2 GLS CVT. Incredible review indeed! I still need to read more about this car though.

  4. Can mirage g4 gls cvt can travel to albay, bicol?

  5. Can Mirage carry 5 people to Baguio? Please help po kc im planning to buy a car soon.

  6. It did climb through kenon rob. But im not really impressed. I cant keep up with vans, old cars and suv. Worse is, aircon is off. The moment u turn it on it's like it's gonna stop and slide back. Dapat pwede solian haha.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. It did climb through kenon rob. But im not really impressed. I cant keep up with vans, old cars and suv. Worse is, aircon is off. The moment u turn it on it's like it's gonna stop and slide back. Dapat pwede solian haha.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. It did climb through kenon road. But im not really impressed. I cant keep up with vans, old cars and suv. Worse is, aircon is off. The moment u turn it on it's like it's gonna stop and slide back. Dapat pwede solian haha.

  10. I'm planning to go to bagiuo this summer..i'll try my mirage g4 cvt if it will survive kenon

    1. The fact is, the G4 has managed to keep up and overtake a 1.6 Lancer EX up the Kennon road, as told by a writer of Top Gear PH. He even said that it was a big deal for him, as nobody has been able to pass him whenever he attack the ascents. He's been driving on that twisty black ribbon since he was 16yrs old, and he's been making trips from Manila to Baguio practically every month for the past 17yrs. The famous road was his backyard. He knows every corner of the 28km zigzag like the back of his hand. And not just that, the handling is so good that he said "You can keep the gas pedal pinned to the floor and attack corners flat-out without worrying about flying off the mountain"

    2. That sounds like some exaggeration. I do agree with a M/T-equipped G4 will beat the lethargic Lancer EX 1.6 with its archaic 4 A/T any day of the week (with a good driver), I wouldn't say the G4 is a great handler.It's safe, predictable, but ultimately, too soft for corner carving.

      Here's my take on the Mirage HB, a review which, ummm...drew flack because I was the only one that pointed out the handling flaws:

  11. hello. does mirage g4 glx mt 2016(upgraded) supports ABS? please let me know :) thanks

  12. Mirage gls g4 m/t kaya ba umakyat ng kenon rd ng apat ang sakay?

  13. Hi, I know that the Mirage and Mirage G4 MT (GLX and GLS) can go to Baguio however those the CVT can? I'm planning to purchase a car by the end of the year and I have 3 choices in mind and Mirage G4 GLS 1.2 CVT is one of them. If it can go the baguio once a month, I might choose the G4 GLS CVT.