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FIRST DRIVE: Mitsubishi Colt CZT - on sale now



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From the early 1970s into the late 1980s, a turbocharged Colt was the small car for the discerning modifier. Quick (for the time), cheapish (as a used motor) and relatively rare.

After more than a decade of dull but worthy variants produced in the UK’s GTI fallout, a fiery Colt looked poised for a comeback. There were strong rumours of the Smart/Mitsubishi collaboration producing a red-hot Colt Evo.

But, in a climate of extreme DC caution, what we’ve got from the ForFour/Colt platform is a warmed up takeaway instead of a burning halo.

The 1.5-litre turbo stands up against the larger engined likes of Fiesta ST, Punto HGT and Ibiza 105 FR, but anyone expecting the new Colt 3dr CZT to leave rivals looking at a triple trail of rubber, street cred and significant price difference will be disappointed. It’s a good alternative rather than a first choice for the Evo-inspired younger driver.

Sales forecast is 12% of the Colt’s anticipated 6,000 units total for 2005. Biggest seller in the £7,999-£12,999 range, which starts with the 1.1-litre Red, is likely to be the 1.3 Equippe manual (£9,249). The 1.5 Di-D Equippe diesel (£10,249) should run it close.

With an eye on the rash of performance diesels, Mitsubishi squeezes a hefty 155lb-ft of torque at 3,500rpm out of the for Europe-only CZT. Mid-range grunt through the Getrag five-speed manual gearbox is, therefore, exceptional, as is the 40mpg plus combined consumption. But the claimed 8sec 0-62mph acceleration requires a tank-draining right foot and bright orange 6,000rpm.

The half-inch of snow that crippled the country recently also put paid to a planned spin round Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in the CTZ. However, A and B roads were enough to appreciate its reworked power steering, rigid shell, stiffened front springs and uprated rear suspension.

Attempts at reckless excess are countered by active stability, traction control and ESP. It’s comfortably quick, but not the most involving drive in a package that has the capacity for much more fun.

It remains to be seen what Brabus can do with the same engine for the Smart ForFour. A heart-stopper is unlikely, but this opens doors to the type of independent specialist who sorted the Lancer.

Strengths: Racy looks, economical (in spite of punchy engine)
Weakness: Warm, rather than hot. Has cash-flow deprived Mitsubishi of an Evo opportunity?
Opportunities: Older buyers after a speedy, but sensible, supermini
Threats: It’s no Evo – so boy racers will be looking elsewhere for super thrills and high street cred
USP: Mini Mitsubishi, Colt heritage
Price: £12,999
Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 147bhp at 6,000rpm, 155lb-ft at 3,500rpm
Transmission: 5spd manual, fwd
Performance: 8sec 0-62mph, 131mph
Efficiency: 41.5mpg (comb), 161g/km CO2
CAP RV (3/30): £5,375 (42%)
Rivals: Seat Ibiza 1.8 150FR (£12,950), Fiat Punto 1.8 HGT (£12,295), Peugeot 206 GTi 2.0 (£13,770), Fiesta ST 2.0 (£13,595)

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