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In the space race, this little star proves big's not always best!

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Mitsubishi space star

Mitsubishi space star

Mitsubishi space star interior.

Mitsubishi space star interior.

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Mitsubishi space star

I was just looking through photos of older cars, such as the Mercedes C-Class, Ford Escort, Toyota Corolla when they were first rolled out. Great old motors and hard to believe the changes wrought by the fleeing years. The one thing I kept noticing was how 'small' they were.

I mean today's Corolla looks to have significantly more room than some of them old Mercs. It is a huge car in its own right. All to the good, I say, but by the same token, some of the time, not all of us need all that room.

Take a look, any day, at the number of motors you see flying by with just one person, the driver, on board. What an awful waste.

So maybe Mitsubishi sees something the rest of us ignore – and it has made a car that is smaller than its forerunner. It is called the Space Star. But it is not, repeat not, a new version of that great little 'people carrier' of the same name. I wouldn't blame you for being confused.

No, this is a successor to the Colt. So we're talking about a small supermini/city car combination here without much by way of flash or frippery.

Its trump cards are its price, Mitsubishi's reputation for building cars that go forever and an eight-year warranty to back that up. You know, sometimes it is a relief to drive something that is uncomplicated without being overly Spartan.

There's a lot of plastic (reasonable quality) in the cabin but you are saved from being overwhelmed by it thanks to a decent dash that draws your eyes to the audio and ventilation controls.

There's enough room for four – a lot more in the back than I initially thought.

At a time when the likes of Dacia is undercutting established rivals on price, it is good to see someone of Mitsubishi's status put something like this on the market for under €12,000.

I had the 1.2-litre on test. It costs €14,495. I have also driven the smaller 1-litre. And I know which one I'd buy. Unequivocally, I would advise you to go for the other three-cylinder model with the smaller engine (92g/km). It gives the car a different flavour altogether (helped by the 14-inch wheels) and, of course, it costs €2,500 less. I'm not fond of the 1.2-litre at all.

I think the smaller engine makes it a decent option for someone looking for a tidy, straightforward, well-made little motor. It pepped along and on the motorway was by no means straining at the upper limit. For anyone starting out with their first new car, they'll find the steering nice and light and the car itself easy to park.

Certainly, those people would also probably be looking at a traditional supermini such as the Toyota Yaris, Volkswagen Polo or Ford Fiesta – all noticeably bigger and roomier – and they do cost more. The Dacia Sandero, on the face of it, is better value and it is certainly big for the money. Frankly I think this is where the battle will be joined for those who are acutely budget conscious.

Those same people would also, possibly, be looking at the likes of the Fiat Panda or other smaller city cars and that's where, I believe, the Space Star can claim to shine. There is no doubt it is a substantially better option in that context.

Just to be clear about the Space Star. Yes, it is a lot shorter (3,710mm v 3,940) than the Colt it replaces. But the amount of interior space within its smaller frame isn't that much short (2,401mm v 2,494mm). Interesting how they can find space in reduced confines.

However, don't go thinking it is anything other than a straightforward little car that is built to do what it says on the tin – until they come up with a successor which they will probably call the Colt just to confuse us again.

I wonder what this will look like in retrospect when in many years to come, we're looking at cars rolled out in the early 21st Century.

Mitsubishi space star

* Mitsubishi Space Star supermini/city car; 1.2-litre petrol (80bhp, 100g/km, road tax €180, claimed 70mpg).

* Standard equipment includes air con, front/side/curtain airbags, electric front windows, multi-information display, daytime running lights, electric door mirrors, emergency stop signal system, rear spoiler, 60/40 split rear seats, radio CD with four speakers, AUX plug and USB port, eight-year warranty (150,000km, whichever comes first; transfers to new owner(s) at any point during eight years).

* Price: €11,995 for 1-litre (71bhp, 92g/km); €14,995 for 1.2-litre on test. Delivery and related charges are extra.

Irish Independent