Motoring: This well-priced car not a mirage it's a Mirage

If you are looking for a cheap, city runabout, then this article will be of interest to you, because this week's car, the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage, can be yours from just $12,498.

For that price (plus the usual delivery fees and taxes), you will get a brand new car that features seven airbags (including one to protect the driver's knees), a fourchannel anti-lock braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution and power steering — some sensible equipment comes standard.

The only engine you can get in the Mirage is a 1.2-litre threecylinder unit that produces just 74 hp and 74 lb-ft of torque. Power is fed to the front wheels via either the standard five-speed manual gearbox, or the optional CVT unit.

My tester was the upmarket SE model that also featured automatic climate control and the most potent heated seats I have ever come across — not bad on optional equipment either.

So far, so good, then, and I bet you're expecting some bad news now.

But I don't have much to complain about this vehicle, and I honestly believe that most critics have been irrationally hard on this subcompact.

The relationship between you and the car does take a little time to build. When I first jumped into the Mirage on a very cold day, upon initial acceleration I found the car to be very noisy. At first I thought I'd have a tough week ahead of me, but as the car warmed up, the noise levels went down, and I found tootling around in this thing to be quite good. It is a small, lightweight vehicle (1,370 kg on a CVT equipped model), and its diminutive power output is actually sufficient for this vehicle.

That low weight also means that the Mirage is also a nimble car. It can change directions like a bee, and as I found out on a deserted back road, it's quite a lot of fun to toss around.

My biggest worry was covering distances on the highway. Since I had a 180 km drive from Mitsubishi's press office to my house, I wondered what my trek would be like. I admit, the car is a bit noisy, and overtaking other vehicles takes some planning and dedication, however, I would set the cruise control at a comfortable highway speed and the Mirage covered the distance quite well. The seats on most subcompacts are hard and uncomfortable, but I had no such complaints with the Mirage. Even after a three-hour drive (due to traffic jams), I felt perfectly fine when I stepped out of the vehicle.

As for space, I was surprised as to how much room there is, even for rear-seat passengers (although they get to sit on a very basic bench-style seat), and the trunk suits the needs of most people. For a single person or a couple, this offers more than adequate space.

Now to the best part: the warranty. Like all Mitsubishi products, the Mirage comes with a five-year or 100,000 km (whichever comes first) bumper to bumper coverage, and a 10-year or 160,000 km powertrain warranty. If you are someone like my Dad, who drives roughly 10,000 km in a year, the Mirage will see you covered for a decade. This is the best warranty in the business, and would be enough reason for some to consider this car.

While most car guys would love more power, style and gadgets, I also think that for most people, what the Mirage offers is enough.

I would strongly suggest you take a close look at a brand new Mirage. If the hatchback body style is not your thing, a sedan version will go on sale very soon.