In this premier feature, we look at Mistubishi's competitor to Honda's Civic SiR/SiR-2, the Mitsubishi Mirage Cyborg ZR. Prior the the introduction of the Civic Type-R and the new 180ps Nissan Pulsar, the Mirage had the highest power of all JDM 1.6litre engined cars


The Mitsubishi Mirage Cyborg ZR is Mitsubishi's key model in the intensely competitive hot-hatch category in Japan. Cars in this category are extremely popular for use in the Gymkhana sport in Japan. Current favourites for Gymkhana uses are the Mitsubishi Mirage/Cyborg and Honda's Civic SiR/SiR2 and CRX.

Since the previous generation, where it came as a Mitsubishi Mirage Cyborg R, the Mirage has been powered by the Mitsubishi 4G92 1597cc DOHC EFi engine. This 1.6litre engine is also fitted with Mitsubishi's MIVEC variable valve lift and timing system, which is very familiar with Honda's VTEC system. As a result of this, the engine is specified to produce 175ps or 5ps more than the B16A engine powering the EG6 and EK4 Civic SiR-2s. Max torque is 17.0kgm which is 1kgm higher than the B16A.

In addition, the Mirage ZR is also lighter than the Civic SiR-2. Comparing a full-options version with the other, this gives a better power-to-weight ratio for the Mirage ZR. The newest version of the Mirage ZR has been given a complete revision by Mitsubishi in order for it to be more competitive with the likes of Honda's Civic and Toyota's new Levin/Treuno.


The important specifications for the Mitsubishi Mirage's engine are as follows:

engine - type 4G92
type: transverse in-line 4
bore x stroke: 81.0 x 77.5
capacity: 1597cc
valve train: dohc 16v with MIVEC
compression ratio: 11.0:1
fuel system: (Mitsubishi) multi-point fuel injection

power: 175ps at 7500rpm
torque: 17.0kgm at 7000rpm

Given the higher powered engine and a lighter body, the Mirage R is naturally expected to be faster than the Civic SiR2 since power-to-weight ratio is one of the most significant factor in a race. To look at the real world performance however, let's examine the results as obtained by two reviewer sources for JDM performance cars.


JAPAN's MOTOR magazine performed JARI (Japan Automobile Research Institute) tests on both the previous generations of EG6 Civic SiR-2 and the Mirage Cyborg R. Though highly dependent on driver's skills, tested 0-100kph and 0-400m drag times however are highly indicative of the actual sprint performance of these vehicles. In their respective tests, the Mirage Cyborg R was tested to do 0-100kph in 8.16 seconds and 0-400m in 15.65 seconds.

Surpisingly, the EG6 Civic did a corresponding 7.66seconds and 15.17 seconds respectively despite being 5ps down in power. These results strongly suggests that the EG6 Civic would be superior to the Mirage Cyborg R in a straight line race.


However, many believes the true worth of a performance car is not only in its straight line ability, but is more so in its ability as an overall performance car, ie cornering, balance, as well as accessibility ie how easy it is to drive it fast. The ultimate worth of a performance car is thus in its lap times around a reference circuit.

My favourite reference for this is JAPAN's BEST MOTORing video series. They perform unbiased performance tests of all JDM cars. Most importantly though is BEST MOTORing depends on a group of established professional racing drivers for their performance test, which includes a package of 0-400metre (approximately 0-1/4mile) sprint test as well as a "circuit battle" which is in the form of a 5 to 7 laps race usually on the famous Tsukuba circuit in Japan.

In the end-November 1996 issue of BEST MOTORING, they did a performance test for the best 1.6litre car in Japan. Both the 3door and 4door variants of the current generation Civic and Mirage were tested together with the Toyota Treuno and Sprinter Marino (both these using Toyota's 1.6l DOHC inline 4 20valve engine giving 165ps).


The following sequence of images are screen captures I did of the 0-400m sprint race between the 3-door versions; EK4 Civic SiR-2, Mirage ZR, and Trueno BZ-G.

Start ! Mirage takes off to an early lead Civic catches up at halfway mark
B16A has the superior top-end ! EK4 Civic takes the finishing line !

At the start, the Mirage took an easy lead, probably due to its superior power-to-weight ratio. However, after the mid-point of the race and towards the end, the superior top-end of the B16A allowed the EK4 Civic to eventually win the sprint. This result tallies well with that obtained in the MOTOR magazine's JARI sprint tests.


The highlight of all BM performance test is definitely the final circuit race, dubbed the 'Tsukuba Battle'. This battle involved both the 3door and 4door versions of the Civic, Mirage and Trueno, the 4door version of Toyota's Levin/Trueno being the Sprinter Marino.

The following sequence of images represents a couple of screen captures I made of the Tsukuba battle. BM organizes the starting grid by reverse order of either the weight-to-power ratio or the 0-400M drag results. This race's starting grid was according to weight-to-power ratio, thus the front row being the three 4-doors and the back row being the 3-doors.

Starting grid is based on weight-to-power ratio
Into the first corner; 3-doors are already biting hard at the 4-door tails !
The long straight in lap-1, Civic is already in front !

Retired racer M. Kurosawa easily took the EK4 Civic to an early lead in the battle. Maintaining his lead throughout the 5-lap race, he took an easy victory. Towards the second half of the race, after getting free from being stuck behind the three 4-doors, the Trueno BZ-G was clearly biting very hard at the Mirage ZR's tail. At the finishing line, the Mirage ZR just managed to hold the Trueno BZ-G off by blocking its line into the final corner.

The image below shows the final race result. The EK4 Civic won the race easily. The Mirage ZR took second place though the Trueno turned in a better best-lap time. The Civic Ferio Si-2 finished second amongst the 4-doors.

The image below shows the "Time Attack" results for the 6 cars in the battle. "Time Attack" results are the fastest lap times during individual lap runs that are done by the various drivers prior to the battle. When driven in the circuit alone, it is clearly seen that the EK4 Civic is very much faster than its other contenders. Note that the time-attack result for Mirage ZR is slower than the Trueno. In fact, despite having the best power-weight ratio amongst the three 3-doors, the Mirage ZR was the slowest around the Tsukuba circuit. At this point, it is important to highlight that all three 3-doors are equipped with LSDs.


In closing, the writer feels that both the MOTOR magazine's JARI test and especially the BEST MOTORing battle results clearly shows the 3-door EG6 and EK4 Civic SiR-2 to be a faster car than the equivalent Mitsubishi Mirage MIVECs. Thus, a superior power-weight ratio is not a sure guarantee for superior performance.

Author : Wong Kong-Ngai
The information given in this article has been taken from MOTOR magazine and BEST MOTORing without permission. Temple of VTEC Asia may withdraw this article if it is found to violate any copyright laws. In addition, all opinions given in this article are solely that of the author's own and do not represent that from any official party/parties

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