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2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is inexpensive, the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car you can buy

The 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage is one of the least expensive cars you can buy.

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

If you think really hard o it, you're probably able to name some of the least expensive vehicles sold in the U.S. Spoiler alert: they're all cars. While SUVs start around $18,000 in the U.S., the cheapest car, the 2021 Chevrolet Spark has a starting MSRP of $13,400 and an additional $995 delivery charge. And, while it may be the cheapest, it's nowhere near the most fuel efficient.

That honor sits with the 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage. The Mirage is powered by a 1.2-liter three-cylinder engine that produces 78 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque. Buyers can get that engine paired with either a five-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable (CVT) transmission. Either way, the Mirage's powertrain gets an EPA-estimated 36 mpg in the city, 43 mpg on the highway, and 39 mpg combined.

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage and Mirage G4

2021 Mitsubishi Mirage and Mirage G4

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Those numbers are far better than the Spark's 33 mpg combined. To its credit, the Spark has a slightly larger engine (a 1.4-liter) and offers 20 more horsepower.

The Mitsubishi Mirage and Mirage G4 (the hatchback version) were both given a refresh for the 2021 model year. Mitsubishi will sell each model in four trim levels: ES, LE, Carbonite Edition (CE), and SE.

Up front, both models got Mitsubishi's latest Dynamic Shield grille design and a revised front bumper that's meant to give it a sense of sportiness. Out back, the Mirage's bumper and valance increased in size while the standard L-shaped horizontal taillights now stretch across the backside of the car. The overall aesthetic is in keeping with the newest designs in Mitsubishi's SUV lineup.

Mitsubishi will offer the Mirage and Mirage G4 in two new exterior paint colors for the new model year, White Diamond. A Sand Yellow finish is newly available just for the hatchback.

The car comes standard with a 7-inch infotainment touch screen with Apple CarPla and Android Auto compatibility. Buyers who opt for the Mirage ES get redesigned front arm rests, new soft-touch cloth in high-touch areas, and a carbon fiber effect on the vehicle's power window switch trim.

Every Mirage now comes with forward collision mitigation technnology with pedestrians detection. Lane departure warning and automatic high beams are available on the top-tier SE trim level.

The new 2021 Mitsubishi Mirage Carbonite Edition features a revised front grille and air dam, side air dam, b-pillar decal and rear airdam with carbon-pattern surfaces and contrasting red accents. It's available in either a sedan or hatchback body style. The model is slotted just below the top SE grade.

Every Mirage comes with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty; 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty; 7-year/100,000-mile anti-corrosion/perforation limited warranty; and 5-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance program.

Pricing for the 2021 Mirage tops out at $17,445. The Mirage G4 starts at $15,295 and goes up to $18,195.

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The Sakura is Nissan's newest EV.

Nissan

It's no secret that the Japanese get all manner of quirky, cool cars that we don't see here in the States. Sure, there's the Nissan Skyline and Mitsubishi Delica van, but tiny vehicles like kei cars and "minivehicles" are popular imports for Americans looking to diversify their drives. Pint-sized kei cars are ripe for electrification, and Nissan did just that with its new Sakura EV, which comes almost a year after the automaker announced it was working with Mitsubishi to develop tiny electric models. It's one of dozens of new EVs slated to come from the Mitsubishi-Nissan-Renaul Alliance this decade.

Though tiny, the Sakura offers a decent top speed of 80 mph, and its range of around 112 miles could make it an ideal urban runabout for many. That said, there's little chance the car will come to the United States. Japan's minivehicles and kei cars are far smaller than anything currently on sale here. For example, the Sakura's 133.6-inch length makes it almost 18 inches shorter than a Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback, a car that Americans would consider minuscule.

Nissan SakuraThe Sakura borrows features from the Nissan Leaf, including its battery.Nissan

Nissan borrowed the Sakura's 20-kWh battery from the Leaf and says it can be used to provide power for external devices or even power a home for up to a day. The car comes with three driving modes to change the behavior of things like regenerative braking and throttle response, and Nissan says it took further guidance from the Leaf to give the Sakura the quietest cabin in its class.

The Sakura's upright shape likely helps with headroom, but it certainly doesn't increase cargo space, as Nissan claims just 107 liters (4 cubic feet) of room. That said, the car features small-item storage spaces for gear like a smartphone or wallet. Buyers can opt for black, beige, or blue-grey interior colors, and an upgrade package is available that brings a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

There are a surprising number of features packed into the minute Nissan's cabin. A 7-inch digital gauge cluster comes standard, and a 9-inch infotainment touchscreen with navigation. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard. Nissan says the car's displays are oriented to reduce distraction and keep the driver's eyes on the road, and ProPilot safety systems are standard, including a new parking assist feature. ProPilot is a stepping stone toward Nissan's goal of debuting autonomous driving tech by 2030.

Nissan SakuraThe Sakura isn't destined for the U.S. - yet, anyway. Nissan

The Sakura goes on sale in Japan this summer. It's priced at 1.78 million yen, or around $14,000. The car will be available for purchase online, and Nissan says it will offer video chats and other resources to help buyers with the process. Buyers will be able to opt for a full in-person buying experience, a completely virtual experience, or anything in between.

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New performance sedan

2023 Mercedes-AMG C 43 on the way with F1 tech

The new C 43 gets engine tech straight from Formula 1.

Mercedes-AMG

It's about time we started considering Mercedes-AMG's 43-level cars in some of the same conversations that include the 53- and 63-level monsters. Today, Mercedes-AMG announced the 2023 C 43 Sedan. But even though it's the "entry-level" C-Class performance car, AMG gave it some serious upgrades, including standard rear-wheel steering, a mild-hybrid system, and plenty of power.

2023 Mercedes-AMG C 43 SedanRear-wheel steering is standard, as is adaptive suspension. Mercedes-AMG

The new turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 402 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque - up from last year's 385 ponies. It's paired with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-biased all-wheel drive. Mercedes says the powertrain is strong enough to propel the C43 to 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.6 seconds.

The four-cylinder is the first production engine with an electric exhaust-gas turbocharger. The tech came directly from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team, who won the 2021 Constructor's Championship. Where traditional turbochargers have to build boost over a short period of time, an electric motor spins the turbo to start before allowing the exhaust gases to take over. The system is driven by the car's 48-volt mild-hybrid system and should reduce turbo lag and improve responsiveness.

2023 Mercedes-AMG C 43 SedanThe car's electric turbocharger is a first in a production car. Mercedes-AMG

Five driving modes are available, including Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport +, and Individual. The drive modes alter throttle and steering response, transmission shift points, exhaust sound, and settings for the adaptive dampers. Shockingly, the car comes standard with rear-wheel steering with an angle of up to 2.5 degrees. The system works at speeds of up to 37 mph, and can drastically reduce the C 43's turning radius while improving turn-in and handling.

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