REVIEW DATE: 10 May 2007
Yet another folding metal roof convertible - but this time an affordably priced one. June Neary takes a look at Mitsubishi's Colt CZC.
So, like me, you fancy one of those trendy new compact cabriolets with folding steel roofs. The problem is that, like me, you don't have a £17,000-£20,000 budget to buy one. That relegates both of us o a choice between just a few cars: models like Nissan's quirkily-styled Micra C+C, Vauxhall's rather weedily-powered Tigra and the model I'm looking at here, Mitsubishi's Colt CZC. From a purely visual perspective, I have to say that the Mitsubishi - though not the sleekest drop-top on the block - is arguably the best looking amongst this particular quartet. It's well priced too, with a starting figure at the £14,000 mark, so my initial impressions were encouraging. It helped that the car was delivered to me with the roof down. After all, with the top folded into the boot, the Colt CZC is a cheeky and rather appealing looking thing, with a pleasantly wedge-shaped profile and a pugnacious wheel-at-each-corner stance. Like my colleagues, I thought it looked less happy when the roof was raised, giving it a rather odd push-me-pull-you appearance thanks to the relatively short bonnet and long rear deck.
The CZC is, as you would expect, is based on the Colt supermini hatch - a good thing as that car is one of the most spacious models in its class and drop-tops in this sector typically tend to be rather a tight fit. Not that 'spacious' is a word you'd use for the interior of this car. There are rear seats - but there might as well not be, so cramped are they for any adult apart from either pigmies or children. Get a tall driver or passenger up front and the available rear leg room virtually vanishes. Having said that, being able to transport kids around is a boon that will endear the Mitsubishi to mums who want a second car that can pick their offspring up from school. The interior is functional but very well executed. The urge to over-complicate matters has been resisted but there is some very nice detailing with only the quality of the plastics occasionally letting the Colt down. The round dials with their silver centres are highlighted with white surrounds that glow a pale green in the dark - a nice touch I thought. Then there's the white column fabricated from the same luminous material that runs from the centre console down to the base of the gearstick. It's unusual but overall the interior pulls together very nicely. Compulsive button-prodders probably won't find a whole lot to keep them amused but if you appreciate pared-down cleanliness, you'll get on just fine with the Colt CZC's cabin.
I am definitely a girl's girl at heart, which is why I love cars like this that are, let's be honest, rather gender-specific. Or at least the entry-level 107bhp 1.5-litre version is (there's no diesel option). The Turbo model however, should fit a much wider market, offering as it does, levels of performance that are unavailable from elsewhere in this sector. Mitsubishi have taken the turbocharged 148bhp 1.5-litre engine from their Colt CZT hatch and have plumbed it into the nose of the CZC, giving this car an unexpected dose of attitude. This engine features double overhead cams, 16 valves, and an intercooler that will punt it to 60mph in 8.1 seconds before surging on to a top speed of 126mph. That's a little slower than its hatchback sibling due to the weight of the roof mechanism and the chassis reinforcing required with an open car but it's still a respectable turn of pace. The pulling power of this engine is a little sluggish if you don't keep the revs up but when the turbo comes on stream at around 3,250rpm, it feels genuinely rapid - far quicker than 148bhp has any right to feel. In fact, the dip and surge onrush of power give it far more drama than a car with a more linear power delivery. With a little electronics tweaking, the CZC Turbo could embarrass some serious hot hatches. All of which is fine if you have the £16,000 budget required - but then that's where we came in. With this in mind, I'd have to recommend the entry-level 1.5-litre version. The normally-aspirated 1,499cc powerplant in this variant struggles a bit: this, after all, at 1,110kg, is not a light little car. Still, it manages a 10.2 second sprint to 60mph and a top speed of 114mph, while 42.8mpg is possible on the combined cycle, as is a CO2 level of 157g/km. Naturally, both engines are Euro IV compliant.
I would think so. Sure, it's not practical - though those tiny rear seats do give it an advantage over rivals in this respect, as long as you can live with the typically tiny bootspace. The provision of these and that Turbo engine option together enable the Colt to stand out in this marketplace. And for Mitsubishi dealers, that could make all the difference.