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Mirage hit with a barrage from 'Times' caustic car critic

A Yaris-pug crossbreed? The New York Times' blistering review of the Mitsubishi Mirage doesn't mince words.

If the Mitsubishi Mirage were a Broadway show, it would have to close -- immediately -- after the trashing it got from a New York Times reviewer. The headline clues you in: "It's cheap, but is it overpriced?"

Car critic John Pearley Huffman let loose with a devastating and, to be frank, devastatingly funny dis-sertation on the Thai-built subcompact that went on sale in the United States last fall.

The Mirage "lowers expectations, strangles them and buries their remains in a deep unmarked grave. If this car wasn't disappointing, it wouldn't be anything at all."

Stylewise, Huffman calls it "sort of a cross between a 6-year-old Toyota Yaris and a 7-month-old pug."

Performance: "A full three cylinders of mumbling misery, making 74 tortured horsepower." The powertrain sounds "flatter than the electroencephalogram of a dead hamster."

The "lack of speed is a benefit to the Mirage, because the suspension tuning is awful," Huffman writes.

"The body seems to flit along, making random movements unrelated to the road. Stab at the brakes and the nose dives while the tail unloads and wags disconcertingly."

Wait, there's more: "The steering is numb, the front tires lose their grip in corners, and there's no driver engagement. Parole hearings are more entertaining, and prison bunks may be more comfortable."

As for "alternatives," Huffman lists: "Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Greyhound bus tickets, hitchhiking."

A Mitsubishi spokesman wrote in an e-mail: "Mirage was brought to the U.S. with the understanding that it would not be a car for everyone," but with a promise of good fuel economy at an affordable price, backed by a strong warranty.

He said sales have exceeded expectations. Mitsubishi sold 1,331 Mirages in April, down from 1,499 in March, but up from 1,116 in February.

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