The compact vehicles marketed in North American drawn from Mirage or Lancer lineage during the period between 1985 and 2001 used the name Mirage because of the fact that Chrysler possessed the right to use Lancer name and when DaimlerChrysler took over the Chrysler and Mitsubishi, the Lancer name was replaced by Mitsubishi in North American market.
First Generation (1978-1982)
In 1978, the first generation Mirage was introduced as a 3-door, front wheel drive hatchback. It was designed in a response to the fuel crisis the world faced during that time. In 1979, 5-door version was introduced in the lineup. In 1979, Mirage was exported to United States where it was marketed as Dodge Colt and Plymouth Champ.
In 1979, 1600 cc engine was also released. A 4-door version of Mirage, called the Lancer Fiore was introduced in 1981. Lancer Fiore was different than the Mitsubishi Lancer. A turbocharged 1400 cc engine generating 105 PS (77 kW) was introduced in 1982.
Mitsubishi Mirage was marketed under different names in different regions. For instance, it was sold as Mitsubishi Colt in many countries, Colt 1200 and Colt 1400 in United Kingdom. In many countries, the Mirage served the purpose of entry-level car as there were no Minica Kei cars offered in those countries.
Todd Motor Corp. of New Zealand manufactured the local CKD assembly of the Mirage and introduced the first sports counterpart in 1980s as Mirage Panther. The first local assembled turbocharged Mirage Turbo was launched in 1982.
Second Generation (1983-1987)
In 1983, the third generation Mirage was introduced by Mitsubishi Motors as Mirage 3- and 5-door hatchback; Lancer Fiore as 4-door sedan. In 1985, station wagon version was added in the range followed by 4-wheel drive wagon a year later.
The second generation hatchback versions were sold as Mirage or Colt in many countries, while the sedan and station wagon versions were marketed as Lancer. However, the commercial version of the Mirage was marketed as Mitsubishi Express in New Zealand.
In the later years, the old 1300 and 1500 cc engines were dropped and 1200, 1400 along with 1800 cc diesel engine was introduced in the lineup.
In 1985, the Mirage made a debut in United States with this particular generation. Before that it was not offered in United States.
Third Generation (1987-1992)
The third generation Mirage was introduced by Mitsubishi as a distinct vehicle in 1987. It was available as a 3-door vehicle featuring an upright tailgate. The high-end Mirage versions were marketed as Mirage Cyborg powered by a turbocharged 1600 cc engine rated at 145 PS (107 kW).
Other engine variants available for third generation series were: 1.3 and 1.5 12-valve 4-cylinder as well as 1.6 and 1.8 16-valve 4-cylinder engines. The version offered in European market include 1300 GL, 1500 GLX, 1600 GTi, and 1800 GTi 16v.
In United States the hatchback version of this car was marketed as Dodge/Plymouth Colt and Eagle Summit, while the sedan version was sold as Dodge/Plymouth Colt in Canada.
Fourth Generation (1991-1996)
In 1991, Mitsubishi replaced the old conventional chassis platform to a contemporary rather more stylish rounder ‘CC’ chassis for fourth generation Mirage. A 2-door coupe was launched as Asti in Japan, Lancer coupe in Australia, while sold as ‘CC’ chassis Mirage in New Zealand and United States. The base GL model was offered with 1500 cc SOHC 8-valve carburetor engine while the high performance GLXi in Australia was available with 1800 cc SOHC 8-valve EFI engine.
The other engine variants which became available with this new chassis platform were: 4G15 1.5 Carburetor, 4G15 1.5 fuel-injected, 4G93 1.8 EFI, 4G93 1.8 DOHC EFI, 4G92 1.6 MIVEC EFI, a 4G91 1.8L DOHC carburetor, and even a 6A10 (V6) and 4D68 Turbo Diesel. However, 2.0-L 4G63 Turbo variant was only offered in United States.
Fifth Generation (1997-2002)
In 1995, the fifth generation Mirage was introduced as ‘CE’ALEpillo or fifth generation chassis. The different body styles offered for fifth generation model were 2-door coupe (sold as Mirage Asti in Japan), 3-door hatchback and a 4-door sedan. The ‘Asti’ designation was dropped from the coupe version in 2003 and it was marketed as Mirage in Japan.