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Mitsubishi Colt 2004 review


Mitsubishi also called up the Grandis people mover this year and updated the Outlander to kick harder against its compact four-wheel-drive rivals.

They are selling strongly, boosting support for a brand anchored by the Pajero but deserving better for the Magna and the Verada.

The Colt has been pitched as a quality compact with European styling and a punchy engine, all wrapped in a new-age body. It was developed jointly by Mitsubishi and DaimlerChrysler.

The Colt is a good looker and distinctive, but the starting price of $18,990 is too high.

The cabin quality is disappointing; the transmission, a constantly variable automatic, is nothing special; and the car doesn't drive all that well.

The bottom line, critical when the small-car scene is so competitive, is that the Colt isn't good enough to compete.

The strategy was to take the Colt up and away from the $15,000 bargain battlers, banking on its European connections and a big five-door body that's more like a mini people-mover.

Mitsubishi also believed the bigger engine would give it an edge over rivals with 1.3-litre powerplants.

The 1.5-litre 16-valve engine and the CVT transmission feed power to the front wheels.

There is nothing special in the suspension, with MacPherson struts and a torsion-beam rear axle, and it still comes with drum brakes on the back.

The dash is under a huge windscreen and looks trendy, with a column-mounted shift lever for the automatic.

The cabin leads the class for space and headroom, and the rear seat is on slides, with a reclining backrest similar to the Mazda2's. There are two models, but most of the action will be for the LS. The XLS gets a tachometer, leather-wrapped steering wheel, alloy wheels and other bits for $20,990.

Mitsubishi believes it can sell 400 Colts a month, the LS taking 60 per cent.

In its first few months, and without the XLS kick, it has managed only 326, though it did better in October with 233.

The Jazz is romping away, with 846 sales in October.

On the road 

WE WANTED so much for the Colt to be a winner. It looks good, at least from the outside, and it has all the ingredients to do the job if you ignore the premium price.

But even if the recipe is right, the result is wrong in 2004.

The Colt is sub-par on quality, particularly against its price rivals, and is nothing special to drive.

It is not as good as an Echo or a Getz on the road, let alone be a genuine contender against the Mazda2 and the Jazz.

How did it happen? We don't know, because Mitsubishi has proven many times it knows how to build good cars. The Magna is still a good drive. Not the Colt.

Fuel economy is good at just under 9 litres/100km, the engine is strong, and the cabin has a lot of space for people and/or luggage.

It would be a good weekend carryall for someone with a mountain bike or a hiking obsession.

Still, we're making excuses, and that's not good enough.

There is not much to make you smile, apart from a reasonable CD sound system. The cabin looks cheap, the back seat is upright and uncomfortable, and even the front seats feel narrow and thin. It doesn't even have a centre console, which is an option.

On the driving side, we can almost excuse the CVT transmission – Honda does a much better job by setting up steps that act like gears – because the 72kW engine is so eager. It will push the car along well enough, once you adjust to a gearbox that sounds as if it has perpetual clutch slip.

But we can't excuse brakes that don't have nearly enough bite.

The Colt rides well, coping reasonably with bumps and humps, but it doesn't want to turn corners. Even at slow speeds it feels skittish, with little rear grip.

Perhaps that's why the brakes feel as if you need to shove harder than expected for a moderate stop.

The turning circle is good, the headlamps are fine, and it's good to have aircon, power steering, twin airbags and anti-skid brakes.

Still, we would never pick the Colt over a Mazda2 or a Honda Jazz, even if it has a bigger engine, and that sums it up.

The bottom line 

IT WOULD be great if the Colt was a star, but it's not.

Pricing guides

Based on 5 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

LS 1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $2,400 – 4,070 2004 Mitsubishi Colt 2004 LS Pricing and Specs
XLS 1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $2,400 – 4,070 2004 Mitsubishi Colt 2004 XLS Pricing and Specs
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.