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Colt comeback


It was the price leader for the Japanese brand before it was put out to pasture, but returns as a premium hatch to take on the Honda Jazz and the Mazda2.

The five-door Colt replaces the $13,990 "drive-away" Mirage, but is a totally different type of car with a much heftier price.

With a starting mark of $18,990, the Colt costs more than the base Jazz ($15,990) and Mazda2 ($16,990).

Mitsubishi says the Colt might cost more, but comes with much more gear standard.

Mitsubishi Australia president Tom Phillips says it would be nice to have a cheaper Colt to lure buyers, but believes customers will recognise the value.

"We don't have a 1.3-litre (engine) like the Jazz that they sell at a certain price, so it is up to us to get the message across about how good this car is," Phillips says.

"It is a bit like the Magna. You look at the value and specification in that and it is second to none."

The Colt LS comes standard with continuously variable automatic transmission, airconditioning, anti-skid brakes, CD sound and dual airbags.

Surprisingly, the LS misses out on a tacho or a centre console (between the seats) which is a $110 option.

The XLS model costs $3000 more and comes with all the LS gear, plus alloy wheels, fog-lights, mild body-kit and leather steering wheel cover, tacho and centre console.

Both Colt models are powered by the same 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine with dual overhead camshafts and variable valve timing.

It has 72kW of power, 132Nm of torque and has an official combined fuel economy figure of 6.4 litres per 100km. There is no manual version.

Just like its competitors, the Colt has disc brakes on the front and drums on the rear.

Side curtain airbags are available for $1200 for buyers who are safety conscious.

Unfortunately, the seatbelt on the middle seat of the back row has only a lap belt rather than the safer lap sash belt.

Mitsubishi says the Colt will be most often bought as a second vehicle and will "hardly ever" carry five people – but what about when it does?

The rear seats can be folded into a variety of positions to maximise boot space and there are several hidey-holes around the car for storage.

Mitsubishi expects the Colt to outsell the Mirage and plans to shift about 400 a month.

ON THE ROAD

IF YOU are still reading this report, Mitsubishi might have a chance of selling a reasonable number of Colts.

I'm sure many potential buyers would have lost interest once they saw the $18,990 starting price. That's the problem Mitsubishi faces.

The Aussie arm of the Japanese carmaker brokered a deal at the last minute to avoid a starting price of $19,990. That would have been way too much and $18,990 is still pricey.

Sure, if you bought a Mazda2 or a Honda Jazz with the same level of equipment, you would have to pay more than $18,990, but many people are attracted by the cheaper base prices, even if they end up handing over more cash.

As for the car itself, it is surprisingly spacious with heaps of headroom and legroom). The engine is sprightly and it is comfortable to drive.

The electric-assisted (instead of hydraulic-assisted) power steering is nice and light and the car turns easily into tight spaces.

Its CVT automatic works well enough – though, like all CVTs, it sounds as if it is constantly slipping the clutch.

The noise is annoying when you are pushing the car hard, but not around town where the smooth CVT is in its element.

Handling is very low on the list of priorities of Colt buyers according to Mitsubishi, but it's nice to know the Colt feels solid and sure even on wet and bumpy roads.

It certainly doesn't skip and bounce over bumps like the Honda Jazz does.

The Colt does feel a bit cheap inside, though, with hard plastic surfaces that belong on a less expensive car and don't match the Jazz or Mazda2.

That is a real problem, because it is the first thing you notice when you jump in.

The styling is what you expect from a fresh new light car such as the Colt and Mitsubishi is offering some cool colours, including an orange and a yellow, that will really stand out on the street.

Do your homework and the Colt is worth considering if you want a capable well-equipped light car. But with a starting price of $18,990 it could struggle for attention.

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