Mitsubishi Attrage review: Better with a boot

PHOTO: Motorist

When has a little extra 'junk in the trunk' ever hurt anyone? Modern society is obsessed with engorged rear ends, irrespective of their proportion to the rest of its host body.

Could this be the ethos that was adopted in the creation of the Attrage? For the most part, the 'host body' does not differ at all from its hatchback Space Star sibling.

But, B-pillar rearwards though, and you'll find a new rear door, as well as an enhanced cargo area. Otherwise, ignoring the enlarged booty, the cars are mechanically identical.

Logically, you'd expect the cars to perform equally. But as with everything in life, some are more equal than others.

Suited and booted

Apart from the obvious, there are subtle differences throughout the car that hints at the slight differences in the two car’s target demographics.

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The Space Star, with its dinkier dimensions and contrast fabric seat inserts, is definitely angled at a younger audience. Our Attrage test car though, does feel more grown-up (and in more ways than one — more on that later).

No colour or pattern contrast fabrics on the inside — the Attrage makes do with a sensible all faux-leather interior trim. 

The exterior

The facelifted Attrage wears the same front end as its hatchback sibling. You get the same LED headlights and the same Dynamic Shield front grille. No major complaints on this front — the car looks sharp and smart.

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The complaint that we do have though, is the fact that Attrage models, facelifted or otherwise, have this fairly ungainly side profile. It is unlikely, therefore, that the design direction was headed by anybody in the design or engineering department.

Likely, its proportions were probably dictated by its consumer research department. In the pursuit of practicality, some design cues were sacrificed or ignored. The end result is an almost bulbous and awkward looking rear end.

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It also doesn't help that the wheels are too small for the car — the body shell seems to visually dwarf the wheels. (P.S. This is why you shouldn't skip leg day.)

The inside

You'll find that most of the interior is made of hard, scratchy plastic. Your common touchpoints though, have been jazzed up with contrasting coloured plastics.

The aircon controls and infotainment screen nestles in a surround made of glossy black plastic. The window switchgear trim has a faux Carbon Fibre finish.

The Attrage also comes with a proper arm-rest for the front passengers. The storage bin is also a usable size. The lid is smart too — flip it 180 degrees and it doubles up as a cup holder for your rear-seat passengers.

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Whilst a good idea, in theory, we can't help but wonder what will happen if rear seat occupants spill sugary fluids in said cup holder, and the lid is then negligently shut without first getting rid of the mess.

Still, the rear is where the experience totally differs from that of the Space Star. There is more legroom in the back, with seats that are at a slightly different angle.

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This makes for greater comfort on longer journeys, even if you are taller than average.

And whilst we are talking about space, we have to address that robust hind end. For a car of its size, the boot capacity of 450 litres is impressive. Do be warned though, there is a small boot lip that will make loading heavier items a touch more cumbersome.

The drive

The basic steering setup means the car does have a whiff of sportiness. But any perceived sharpness is lost in the rudimentary metalwork the Attrage calls its suspension.

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But still, the lacklustre componentry in the Attrage guise does a better job than in the Space Star at mitigating the potential ills that can result. You can feel this from behind the wheel —  the Attrage does appear to have more traction.

You can also take corners at slightly higher speeds without worrying about body roll. The same passengers that have spent some time with us in the Space Star have remarked that the Attrage is more comfortable.

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Those more sensitive to motion sickness seem less susceptible to it in the Attrage.

The differences in character could perhaps have been a result of the extra half a metre the car has gained over the hatchback in overall length. 

For firepower (perhaps this is a slight misnomer), you get the same loud and basic 1.2 litre, three-cylinder 79bhp engine as the Space Star. What Mitsubishi has left out though, is the option of a ‘Sport’ mode on the shifter. 

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Realistically, it is not like that made any significant impact in the first place. The engine is still noisy under load, acceleration still feels sluggish, and the CVT still feels unrefined. 

Better with a boot

There’s no escaping the frankly agricultural skeleton of either car. But the additional refinement offered by the extra space and separate boot compartment makes the Attrage our pick of the duo.

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To elevate your Attrage experience though, you really have to readjust your expectations. This is by no means a luxury or sports car. Ease off the throttle, be more gracious with your steering inputs, and you can actually have a fairly liveable daily driver.

Its fuel economy figure of about 20km/l certainly means ‘liveable’ is perhaps a bit of an understatement. It is no wonder why these cars are such a hit amongst the Private-Hire crowd. 

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Realistically, where else are you going to find rear seat occupants that aren't overly fussy about interior quality, in an affordable car that is equally easy on your wallet in running costs?

Find out more about the Mitsubishi Attrage or book a test drive at Cycle & Carriage Mitsubishi.

Specs

Price: $79,999 (Inclusive of COE)
Performance:

Engine: 1.2 litre Inline 3 cylinder

Power: 79bhp

Torque: 106Nm at 4,000rpm

Efficiency: 21.2km/l

0-100km/h: 13.8s

Top sspeed: 167km/h

Brakes (Front): Ventilated disc

Brakes (Rear): Drum

Measurements:

Wheelbase: 2,550mm

Dimensions (LxWxH): 4,305mm x 1,705mm x 1,515mm

Boot capacity: 450 litres

Features:

Apple CarPlay/Android auto

Keyless entry

Auto-folding mirrors

Cruise control

This article was first published in Motorist.