Mitsubishi Carisma Saloon 1996 - 1999

Mitsubishi Carisma Saloon 1996 - 1999

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • Solidly built
  • Extremely reliable
  • Comes well equipped


  • Poor driving performance
  • Lacks charisma (we couldn't resist!)


The Carisma certainly doesn't live up to its name with both the exterior and interior being bland and boring. The cabin is constructed of cheap materials throughout and there is only enough room for two adults in the back and even that will be a squeeze with the limited head and leg room. The dash is better as it is well laid out and it does all feel well put together. The engines are acceptable, but stay away from the small 1.6-litre petrol. The ride isn't much better feeling choppy on most roads, with plenty of body roll in the corners and the gear changes leave a lot to be desired. The main redeeming factor of the Carisma is its outstanding reliability with very little ever going wrong on them.

Exterior and Interior

The Carisma may come with a bold name, but it is by no means going to make you feel special when you're seen in it. The body is nothing special being designed along the lines of the old Volvo S40 and unfortunately it doesn't add much more style. The interior isn't much better being drab and boring and all the materials feel cheap. The seats are fairly comfortable if lacking in support and the back seats don't come with much head and leg room. The boot isn't especially large but should accommodate the needs of a small family easily enough. The rear split folding seats help to increase the space you should be able to fit most things in. The dash is well laid out at least with all the knobs and buttons being easy to use and it does all feel solidly constructed.

Performance and Economy

The entry level 1.6-litre petrol is best left alone as it is extremely weak. It is left breathless after even the smallest of hills and sounds like a diesel when idling. The 1.8 is the better engine as it is quicker going from 0-60mph in 10.1 seconds and is more economical too achieving 40mpg. It also has that added power that makes it a much better drive and can handle most situations easily enough. It is worth noting that the 1.8 was designed specifically for super unleaded fuel and not regular petrol, which will increase the fuel costs. The original diesel engine was adequate if a bit slow, but the new 1.9-litre DI-D is the better engine going from 0-60mph in 11.5 second and achieves 51mpg. The insurance costs range between group 7 for the 1.6 up to group 13 for the 1.8-litre with the diesel slotting in between.

Like to Drive

The Carisma is not for keen drivers, or most drivers to be honest. The ride is extremely uncomfortable jarring over even the smallest of bumps, there is plenty of body roll in the corners. The gear changes are far from smooth and the amounts of wind, road and engine noise in the cabin will more than likely lead to you needing a hearing aid in the not too distant future.

Faults and Repairs

The Carisma has proven to be extremely reliable despite everything else. There was one recall concerning the retaining cap ring of the in-take fuel pump which could shatter so make sure that this work has been undertaken. Also the 1.8-litre was designed specifically for super unleaded and if any of the previous owners used 95 to save money then there is a more than likely chance that the engine will fail some time after 60,000 miles due to carbon build up. The service and repair costs are more expensive than most rivals being as much as 35% more expensive in some cases.