Used Mitsubishi Carisma Saloon 1995 - 2005 review

Category: Family car

Carisma is a misnomer. The Mitsubishi Carisma should have been called the 'Dependable'

Mitsubishi Carisma Saloon (95 - 05)
  • Mitsubishi Carisma Saloon (95 - 05)
  • Mitsubishi Carisma Saloon (95 - 05)
Used Mitsubishi Carisma Saloon 1995 - 2005 review
Star rating

What's the used Mitsubishi Carisma saloon like?

People joke that the 'h' was left out of the Mitsubishi Carisma's name, but it lacks more than that. A limited range of engines, a choppy ride and disappointing handling with plenty of lean through corners all count against it. Passengers won't be wowed by the road noise or the suspension that thunks over bumps, either.

However, the Mitsubishi provides reasonable space up front as well as room for two adults in the rear. The back seats fold down to increase your carrying options.


Carisma is a misnomer. The Mitsubishi Carisma should have been called the 'Dependable'

  • The Carisma is economical, well built and remarkably reliable
  • It's poor to drive and virtually devoid of flair

Inside, it's hard to deny that the Carisma's cabin lacks, well, charisma. It's all terribly bland, although, to be fair, the dash is well laid out, there's useful stowage and it's well made and decently equipped. Steering column adjustment is limited to angle only, and getting comfy in the driver's seat is also hampered by the small amount of seat-height adjustment.

Ownership cost

What used Mitsubishi Carisma saloon will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Mitsubishi Carisma saloon?

Cheap running is the Carisma's real strength. Both generations had respectable economy, with the petrols returning mid- to high-30s mpg. Both diesels promise at least high-40s - as much as 51.4mpg for the D-ID.

However, bear in mind that the favoured 1.8 GDI was designed for superunleaded, not regular 95, which will nudge up costs.

Warranty Direct ranks the Carisma as one of the most reliable cars - markedly better than a Mondeo and a Nissan Primera. However, average repair costs are around 35% more than for a Mondeo, and over 25% more than a Primera, despite the fact that labour rates at franchised and independent garages should be below average.

Our recommendations

Which used Mitsubishi Carisma saloon should I buy?

Try the 1.8 GDI petrol, or the 1.9-litre DI-D diesel introduced in 2002, and skip the weedy 1.6-litre petrols. The pre-face-lift non-GDI 1.8 is decent, but the pokier yet more economical GDI is better, whereas the older 1.9 turbodiesel is fine for motorway cruising, but less satisfying than the later D-IDs.

Aim for Equippe spec on cars built after the 1999 face-lift, because this adds air-con to the electric windows, central locking, power steering, CD player and alloys of the Classic trim. With a pre-face-lift car, GLX trim offers similar treats to Classic (but not the alloys), while the 1.8 GLS-GDI brings air-con.

GL spec (pre-'99) and entry 1.6 spec ('99-on) are too basic, and the range-topping Mirage spec came in from 2001.

The Carisma came as a saloon until 2001, when it was dropped to leave just the more practical hatchback.

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