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    Two Sporty Cars Strut Their Stuff

    autoBelonging to a predominantly gay gym means seeing muscled men packed into workout clothes that accent the assets while revealing just enough of them. The peacock vibe can be intimidating, until you shrug your shoulders and just let the sporty ones be sporty.

    That’s what I did with two recent sporty-looking test cars, a Mitsubishi Mirage GT and a Toyota Camry SE Special Edition. Both indulge your inner peacock while doing everything you need them to do.

    The Mirage and Camry both have shiny and high-contrast aluminum wheels that grab your eye. They also both have squinty expressions with mesh grilles, as well as fog lights. They have the serious look of someone who has entered their 40th minute on the elliptical.

    Both the Mirage GT and Camry SE are edgier versions of two very practical cars, each in their own ways.

    At less than 150 inches in length, the Mirage is a dream in San Francisco, where it can fit into the smallest of parking spaces. Its wonderfully tight, 31-foot turning circle allows it to spin a tight arc to grab a spot across the street. Spend a week doing errand runs with a Mirage, and you will love the fresh-from-Soulcycle vibe it can give the proceedings.

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    The GT is the Mirage’s top trim, and for $17K, it comes with everything Mitsubishi can put on one of these little hatchbacks, from bi-Xenon headlights to a backup camera. It all works well, except for the infotainment system, which feels a generation behind. Its relatively dim screen and unresponsive touch interface would have me searching the Internet for a better unit.

    The SE is a middle trim in the Camry lineup, so the test car $27K was an accurate reflection of a mid-sized sedan with sporty flair and the optional entertainment and navigation system. Toyota’s Entune system is much better than Mitsubishi’s, with a modern look and brisk responses to your fingertips.

    Interior quality is a clear step up from the bland plainness of previous Camrys, and the SE’s electric-blue upholstery and stitching are the automotive analog to the splashiest stretchy workout shorts.

    But for all the Mirage GT’s and Camry SE’s outward sportiness, neither strikes a particularly athletic note with the driving. All Mirages have soft suspensions that give a creamy low-speed ride, but that can switch to torpid-ness as speeds climb. The Mirage’s three-cylinder engine in these moments is annoying in its loudness, like the muscle-bros who yell out when they drop their weights.

    The Camry’s tight structure combined with the SE’s stiffer sport suspension make the test car feel ready to react, like it had been assiduously doing the balance exercises its trainer had assigned. The Camry’s biggest barrier to a truly sporty feel is its steering, which washes over with vagueness just as you steady your aim on a corner’s apex.

    So while Mirage GT and Camry SE are more peacock than athlete, both have looks that attract the eye. For some, that might be all that’s required.

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant at Check out his automotive staging service at