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Mitsubishi Colt new for 2012

The baby is the new Colt, though officially Mitsubishi in Japan is presenting it as a new model.  It will be launched in 2012 - including Australia - and come out of a purpose-built Thai plant currently under construction.

Mitsubishi calls its new model the "global small" car and is designed to take on the swelling city-car market.  The car is likely to be smaller than the current Colt and sit on a new platform using engines ranging from 1-litre to 1.5-litres.

However, the accent will be on fuel and emissions and Mitsubishi - like Nissan with its latest Micra - may stay in the lower-capacity engine sector.  Mitsubishi Australia spokesperson Lenore Fletcher says it's on the cards.

"This is very high on our agenda, though it's too early to talk specifics," she says.  "But we are very keen to get this car into Australia."

Using Thailand as its production base improves pricing with Australia under the Free Trade Agreement and will improve its competitiveness against rivals such as the Micra.

The global small car will also fight the Ford Fiesta - now built in Thailand - and Mazda2 - which has moved production to Japan from Thailand - as well as the Hyundai i20, Holden Barina, Kia Rio, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Yaris and Volkswagen Polo.

Thailand may also build a range of engines for the new Mitsubishi. These include three and four-cylinder small-bore engines from 1.0 to 1.2-litres though capacities of up to 1.5 litres could be used to match the performance of some rivals.

Mitsubishi today conducted a foundation stone-laying ceremony for the global small car's factory, the company's third in Thailand.  The factory, built adjacent to the first and second factories, is planned to start production in March 2012.  Production capacity is expected to start at about 150,000 units a year and rise to 200,000.