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Mitsubishi three-cylinder car for Australia

The car is destined to arrive late next year and slot in where the Colt (pictured above) left off, but with a better price and spec.

The car is destined to arrive late next year and slot in where the Colt left off, but better the Colt on price and spec, Mitsubishi spokesman Paul Stevenson says.

"That's certainly the target - to be under the Colt," Stevenson says. "You have to be to be competitive in that segment and this is an important product for us. We haven't really had a strong entrant in that segment for some time, so we're pinning a lot of hopes on this car when it comes through."

Mitsubishi's global platform plan follows in the footsteps of the Blue Oval's 'One Ford' platform policy with the Fiesta and Focus, and GM's 150-market strategy with the Barina Spark.

The Mitsubishi 'global small car' - or GSC, as the sub-light car is called at the moment - will carry a choice of two three-cylinder petrol engines with stop-start systems that were shown with the concept car at Geneva motor show in March.

The smaller of the two engines is believed to be the latest development of the 3B21, a 52kW/92Nm used in the ultralight 'kei car' class in Asia, and in the Smart ForTwo.

The larger, which we're more likely to see here, is said to be a 1.1-litre that is a step up from the 55kW/100Nm 1.1-litre used by the Colt overseas.

Unlike many of the other light cars on the Australian market, the GSC will offer an automatic transmission - which should give it a leg up on the competition in a market increasingly moving away from manuals.

That broadens it appeal to what Stevenson says is a wide range of buyers.

"If we didn't have an automatic our sales projections would be significantly lower than what they are, and the car wouldn't have the appeal across so much of the segment," he says. "The demographic tends to be divided pretty much equally between young people, retirees, empty-nesters, and people looking for a second car or better fuel economy."

Mitsubishi has not released sales projections for the car, but Stevenson says that Australia is expected to account for about five per cent - and that some Aussie dealers have already seen and given feedback on the vehicle.

"Earlier this year we took quite a large group of dealers up to Okasaki R&D centre and they were shown the car. In fact, for the engineers, and the designers, the only direct feedback they've had from dealers at that stage was from Australia," Stevenson says.