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First look: Mitsubishi’s hot Colt

Turbo temptation: Mitsubishi Australia wants the CZ3 Colt here, and particularly the CZT turbo.

Three-door Mitsubishi Colt breaks cover with turbo hot hatch the star model

13 Jul 2004

MITSUBSIHI has given us the first official look at the production version of its brand new three-door Colt, and confirmed a turbo hot hatch tops the range.

The Colt CZ3 will be revealed in the metal for the first time at the Paris motor show in September, before going on sale in Europe early in 2005.

Arrival in Australia, let alone an on-sale date, is yet to be confirmed, but there’s no doubt that Mitsubishi’s local division wants the car.

"We are very keen to have a look at it and see if we can get it here," said MMAL spokesman Kevin Taylor. "We have expressed our interest and we would certainly like to get it.

"But local arrival wouldn’t be until 2005, or later." The CZ3 will be offered in Europe with a choice of 56kW 1.1, 71kW 81kW 1.3 and 1.5-litre petrol engines, or a 71kW 1.5-litre turbo-diesel. Transmission choices are five-speed manual or "Allshift" automated manual.

Top of the pile will be the CZT hot hatch, which is powered by a "Mivec" (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing and lift Electronic Control) DOHC 16-valve turbocharged and intercooled 1.5-litre engine, developing 112kW and 210Nm of torque with a claimed 0-100km/h time of 8 seconds and a top speed of 210km/h.

There are no obvious rivals for the CZT in the mini hot hatch segment. Three-doors like the Daihatsu Sirion GTvi, Ford Fiesta Zetec, Holden Barina SRi and Toyoto Echo Sportivo are all normally-aspirated and produce less than 100kW.

The CZT could well command a higher price premium than the $20K-$22K band most of those cars are offered in, particularly as it will be built in Europe. And it could also command higher insurance premiums because of its forced induction.

The Peugeot 206 GTi at 102kW and $29,990 is perhaps a more realistic guide as a rival offering. "A three-door hot hatch 1.5 turbo is the sort of car we think would be ideal for the youth performance market," said Mr Taylor. "We’d particularly like to get it if we can make it happen." From being one of the biggest players in the light car market with the Mirage three-door, Mitsubishi’s share has dwindled as the car has ceased production in Japan.

Its stocks will be boosted somewhat by the launch of the five-door Colt here in September, but that comes only with its 1.5-litre engine mated to a CVT gearbox.

The five-door coming to Australia is built in Japan but is an amalgam of Euro and Japanese styling

That means it will be too expensive to compete in the bottom end of the light category, where Holden has just relaunched the three-door Barina at $13,990 with air-conditioning.

The three-door in 1.5-litre petrol engine guise with a manual gearbox would have some prospect of contesting that part of the segment.

The European-styled CZ3 is shorter than the five-door Colt, with a lower roofline, longer doors and teardrop rear quarter windows. All exterior panels bar the bonnet and front bumper are different to the European five-door.

That in turn has some styling difference to the five-door built in Japan. Confusingly, the five-door coming to Australia is built in Japan but is an amalgam of Euro and Japanese styling inside and out.

The latest Colt is the fourth small Mitsubishi to wear the moniker.

Forty years ago Mitsubishi debuted here with the neatly styled Colt sedan, a rear-wheel drive 1.0-litre four-cylinder rival to the top-selling VW Beetle.

That was joined by the Colt Fastback in 1968, which spawned Australia's second ever hatchback after the Renault 16 a year later, the three-door 1100F. Ironically that car was usurped by the first of the Galant sedans, a name Mitsubishi is tipped to resurrect for next year's crucial Magna replacement.

Fast-forward to 1980 and the newly formed Mitsubishi Australia prepared itself for the new generation front-wheel drive brigade led by the Mazda 323, Nissan Pulsar and Ford Laser by importing the RA Colt, which went into local manufacture in Adelaide until the model's demise in 1990.


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