2017 Mitsubishi Mirage GT quick first drive

The Mitsubishi Mirage small car has been an unexpected sales success.

Over the past couple of years, the subcompact Mitsubishi managed to outsell some hybrid models, and posted sales increases even as sales of other subcompacts declined.

That’s despite Mitsubishi skipping the 2016 model year while it prepared a refreshed Mirage lineup for 2017.

DON'T MISS: Mitsubishi Mirage: The Unexpected Small-Car Success

The 2017 Mirage hatchback debuted at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show last fall, and we finally had a chance to drive it in New York’s Hudson Valley last week.

So can Mitsubishi keep a good thing going?

Much of the Mirage’s appeal stems from the car’s fuel efficiency, and the new model shouldn’t disappoint in that department.

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage, Bear Mountain State Park, NY, May 2016

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage, Bear Mountain State Park, NY, May 2016

It retains the 2015 Mirage’s 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine, which drives the front wheels through either a five-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Our test car had the CVT, and in that configuration the Mirage is rated at 39 mpg combined (37 mpg city, 43 mpg highway) by the EPA.

We didn’t get to confirm those numbers on our short drive route, but it’s worth noting that the 2017 model loses 1 mpg in the combined and highway categories compared to the 2015.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage: Styling, Trim, Suspension Updates At LA Auto Show (Nov 2015)

At least the 2017 Mirage gets more power. Well, a little bit more power, anyhow.

It now makes 78 horsepower—4 hp more than before—while torque remains unchanged at 74 pound-feet.

Driving the Mirage around back roads and a stretch of parkway near New York’s Bear Mountain State Park showed just how little power that really is.

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage, Bear Mountain State Park, NY, May 2016

2017 Mitsubishi Mirage, Bear Mountain State Park, NY, May 2016

While perfectly adequate at lower speeds, the Mirage remains slightly unpleasant to drive at anything above 45 mph.

One of the realities of driving a car with such a small engine is that the car’s responses can be a bit sluggish.

Passing maneuvers and merges take a fair amount of planning and commitment, and the engine moans in disapproval when you put your foot down.

MORE: 2017 Mitsubishi Mirage Sedan Unveiled At Toronto Auto Show

Other mechanical changes for 2017 include suspension that's finally been tuned specifically for the North American market, as well as bigger brakes.

Previous versions of the Mirage used the same suspension as markets with more primitive roads, which caused the car to wallow and roll.

The updated model rides comfortably enough, but its handling still won’t be mistaken for that of a sports car.

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