Malaysians simply love sedan motoring.
Perodua might dispute this but even so, it has revealed ambitions of coming up with a sedan model through a prototype displayed at the Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show late last year.
Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia is fully aware of the sedan’s potential, even in the fuel-economy model range that includes the Mirage five-door hatchback as among its early peers.
When the Attrage came along, Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia went full steam in promoting the car to reach out to more buyers here and from the early response received, it seems to be paying off.
On first visual impression, the Attrage is a bigger car as a sedan: Mitsubishi Japan has given the Attrage very much a body profile that is its own rather than being a Mirage with a “tail”.
Firstly, the Attrage sits on a 100mm longer wheelbase of 2,550mm that easily matches that of the Toyota Vios and Honda City. Dimensionally though, it is closer to that of a Proton Saga.
While there is higher use of high tensile steel, which is a light but strong material, it has gained weight as expected over the Mirage, varying between 45kg and 55kg at 875kg to 905kg depending on the variants.
Pitted against B-segment rivals, the Attrage remains a lightweight as the competition tip the scales at above 1,000kg.
Given that scenario, it shouldn’t raise eyebrows to realise that the Attrage is powered by a 1.2L three-cylinder engine, practically the same unit in the Mirage.
This is a contemporary engine with double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, fuel injection and of course, MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve-timing Electronic Control).
To handle the higher car weight, Mitsubishi engineers have tuned the engine to deliver slightly more output than that in the Mirage: 80PS (against 77PS) at 6,000rpm and 106Nm (100Nm) at 4,000rpm.
To channel the engine output to the front wheels is the INVECS-III (Intelligent & Innovative Vehicle Electronics Control System III) CVT (continuously variable transmission) with wide ratios.
This power package, Mitsubishi says, will return fuel consumption under controlled driving conditions that matches the Mirage: a reportedly best-in-class 21km/l based on the New European Driving Cycle.
We had the Attrage SE, the top model with a higher level of goodies, for a weekend and though we might not have achieved 21km/l, we believed our fuel mileage was good, too.
We covered more than 300km that included a drive to Tanjung Sepat for some seafood with the family, highway drives during which we made a few attempts at the top speed, and lots of urban driving.
Yet, going by the fuel gauge in the instrument panel, we only used up slightly more than a quarter of the tank capacity.
While this may be arguable as we have no way of measuring what a quarter tank will hold, it remains impressive as it was about as good as our drive experiences in hybrids and turbodiesels.
We didn’t feel the lack of pace in initial acceleration or during passing manoeuvres except for a slight initial lag that is quite typical of CVTs.
With the electronic control of the “gear ratios”, the engine ran as lazy as 2,000rpm and up to 3,000rpm for legal highway speeds.
It revved beyond 5,000rpm when we floored the accelerator pedal to overtake or check out how fast it would go: the engine sounded smooth for a three-cylinder unit.
We liked the green “Eco” light that came on in the speedometer each time the engine was running at its economical fuel efficient range.
We managed to maintain road speed up fairly steep inclines without this light going off, and that was with almost a full passenger load.
Another likeable quality was the Attrage’s ability to ride comfortably over secondary roads such as the route to Tanjung Sepat via Dengkil and Banting, and the potholed and bumpy patches in the area that we live in and had to suffer daily.
The suspension – MacPherson struts in front and torsion beam rear – might have been a bit clunky going over bumps and potholes, but on the go, its capacity to absorb impacts over B-grade roads went well with everyone on board.
What we found a little disconcerting was the car’s tendency to wallow over undulating road sections though it regained stable poise quickly after passing the uneven stretch.
During high speed cruises, the Attrage stayed firmly rooted for a car of its category and wind noise was nicely dampened.
The 185/55 R15 tyres on 15-inch alloy wheels picked up some road noise over the varying surfaces, but the audible intrusion was tolerable.
With four air vents on the dashboard to circulate air, our rear passengers had a grouse on the lack of efficiency in the cool air going to their area.
We had to turn the air blower to the maximum, raising interior noise significantly, for quite a while before the rear folks could travel comfortably cool, especially during this hot spell.
The Attrage SE earns its top dog status with a body kit, reverse camera, 2DIN Touch Screen Audio with Bluetooth, and LED (light emitting diodes) daytme running lights that line part of the foglight cowl.
As a CVT variant (the other being the Attrage GS), standard equipment include leather seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry with push button start/stop, remote boot release and digital control for the air-conditioning system.
With the keyless entry, locking and unlocking is done by pressing a button next to the doorhandle. However, there is no button on the front passenger door, but there is a keyhole. There is also another button on the trunk panel to release the boot lid.
When the locking operation is effected, the door mirrors will fold and unfold accordingly, which is practical in tight parking areas.
The 450L boot is as spacious as it sounds and there is a dual layer storage facility to stow even more items.
The rear seat backrests are not foldable, unlike the Mirage that requires this feature to improve on its smaller luggage at the rear. Nevertheless, the boot is big enough to accommodate luggage for a family on holiday.
The Attrage SE is priced at RM77,992.15 on-the-road with insurance, making it an attractive car with its good level of equipment and features.
If you want a less expensive option, the Attrage GS CVT at RM69,992.15 may be your cup of tea.