REVIEW DATE: 08 Dec 2008
It's been a long time since there's been a small Mitsubishi worth getting excited about. The latest Colt 3-door looks to change all that. Andy Enright reports
Here's a question to chew over. When was the last time you got excited over a small Mitsubishi? I may be going out on a limb here but I'd hazard a guess at never. There have been some fun big cars bearing the three diamonds and the Lancer Evo series is a cracking steer but get any smaller than that and it all becomes a bit moribund. Until the last few years that is. The current generation Colt five door has provoked a good deal of interest and there's also a sassily-styled three-door version offered. Just getting the Mitsuishi brand onto the radars of small car buyers has been the goal of this variant and the latest improved 3-door version could well convert these maybes into firm sales.
Swaying potential buyers away from a Volkswagen Polo or a Ford Fiesta isn't going to be an easy task but if styling counts for anything, the Colt 3-door has a clear head start. What Mitsubishi call a 'Jet Fighter' design facelift has been introduced, aiming to echo the looks of the larger Lancer and Lancer Evolution X models. To be honest, that tall shape still brings utilitarian MPVs to mind rather than racey superminis, but there's a nuggety compactness to the dimensions that pleases. The interior displays a certain amount of innovation and seems tough enough but the plastics miss that quality that makes you feel good about the class leading supermini products.
The most notable detail on the three-door Colt is the rear overhangs or rather the complete absence of them. This gives the this car a real squat, aggressive, foursquare stance that even the long doors and teardrop profile side windows can do nothing to disguise. There are certain elements of the Peugeot 206 in the glasshouse but it's certainly a very appealing styling job. What's more it shares only its bonnet and front bumper with the five-door model. Every other exterior body panel is unique to the Colt 3-door.
Of most interest to those who are after a 'mini-Evo' will be the 147bhp turbocharged range topper, dubbed the Ralliart. This sort of power in a car this small should provide ample entertainment and a viable option for those previously considering a fast supermini or a Fiat 500 Abarth. This engine features double overhead cams, 16 valves, and an intercooler and will punt the Ralliart to 60mph in 7.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 130mph. The 210Nm of torque on offer isn't to be sniffed at either: it's more than a Honda S2000 roadster can come up with. With Nissan, Honda and Toyota all lacking a credible supermini snorter, the Ralliart looks the hottest of the Japanese tots.
"Exactly how Japanese is the Colt 3-door? That's a question open to debate"
But exactly how Japanese is it? That's a question open to debate. Built in Holland in the Nedcar facility, the Colt 3-door was developed at the specific request of Mitsubishi Motors Europe and styled by Oliver Boulay, a Frenchman. Debuting at the '04 Paris Motor Show, it seemed an all-European party and Great Britain was earmarked for a big proportion of its global sales figures.
Three petrol powerplants are included in the line-up: the 75bhp 1.1-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, a 95bhp four-cylinder 1.3-litre powerplant that looks set to be the most popular and the 147bhp four-cylinder 1.5-litre turbo unit. The 1.1-litre unit can return 51mpg and 130g/km and in the 1.3-litre model can get 48mpg on the combined cycle but is also offered in ClearTec from where 56mpg is on the adgenda. Five speed manual gearboxes are fitted as standard but a six-speed Allshift automated manual is also available should you want to splash out.
Mitsubishi has a reputation for reliability which extends to the Colt, a car that has preformed strongly in customer satisfaction surveys and retains a firm grip on its value in the used car market. Buyers can expect to recoup between 30 and 40% of their car's value after a typical three-year ownership period.
Perhaps the Colt 3-door will yet score for Mitsubishi where they've failed to find the back of the net before. The fundamentals have always been in place but buyers these days are a demanding bunch. Merely having top line safety and reliability isn't enough. On top of this you also need slick styling, neat detailing and excellent dynamics. Mitsubishi are confident that this car meets all these counts and have priced it aggressively to boot.
|For COLT 3-DOOR RANGE|
|OVERALL||7.4 OUT OF 10|
|Space / Versatility||8|