It could be the cutest little automotive cage match in recent memory.
In one corner, you have the all-new Mitsubishi Mirage hatchback, introduced Thursday at the 2013 New York International Auto Show. In the other, the 1.0-liter Ford Fiesta, announced at the L.A. Auto Show in November.
Each sub-compact has promised to be the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid car sold in the U.S. Only one can win. But which will it be?
Only Mitsubishi has released gas mileage estimates. The Japanese automaker said its Mirage will get an estimated 37 mpg in the city, 44 mpg on the highway, and 40 mpg combined. Ford has yet to release figures for the Fiesta, saying only that it expects the car to get more than 40 mpg on the highway.
“We feel strongly that when the 1-liter Fiesta arrives in dealer showrooms this year, it will be best-in-class for fuel efficiency for gas-only engines,” said Ford spokeswoman Debra Hotaling.
Each car uses a three-cylinder engine to hit its mpg targets. The Fiesta has a turbocharged engine that makes 123 horsepower; the Mitsubishi announced Thursday that its naturally aspirated engine will make just 74 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque.
The Mirage will be available with either a five-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission. The Fiesta will only be available with a five-speed manual. The two cars have similar wheelbases, but the Fiesta measures about a foot longer.
Mitsubishi said its Mirage will come with plenty of standard gear, including seven airbags, automatic climate control, traction control, power windows, keyless entry, and a stereo system with MP3 playback and USB/iPod controls.
Pricing on either model has yet to be released, but the Mirage will likely sell for less than the Fiesta. The battle for subcompact supremacy begins later this fall, when both cars hit the market.