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Future models - Mitsubishi - Colt

First look: New Colt is no Mirage

Waiting: We should see the Colt in early 2004

Mitsubishi has revealed its new five-door hatchback and revived a famous name

13 Nov 2002

THE Mitsubishi Colt name is set to return to Australia early in 2004 after an absence of more than a decade.

But the new five-door hatchback launched this week in Japan by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation is a far cry from the tough and unsophisticated car that last graced our shores in 1990.

The new Colt is vitally important to Mitsubishi as it's the first all-new model since DaimlerChrysler took operational control and also presents the company's new styling direction.

Built on a platform it shares with forthcoming Smart four-door, the new Colt will replace the Mirage, despite the latter being a three-door.

Other variants are expected to eventually spin-off the platform including a three-door and some Lancer derivatives, although not the sedan.

Mitsubishi's styling chief Olivier Boulay has overseen the design of a car that presents the company's three-diamond logo very strongly in the triangulated nose.

But in the overall shape it also apes the Honda Fit (Jazz in Australia), which is proving to be a huge hit in Japan. Mitsubishi calls the Colt's look "one motion form" because it sweeps from head to tail without interruption.

In Japan the Colt will be offered with the choice of new 1.3-litre and 1.5-litre Mivec (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing with lift Electronic Control) engines which are U-LEV compliant and mated exclusively to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The Colt's suspension is via MacPherson struts up-front and a torsion beam at the rear.

Inside the cabin the Colt has the hallmarks of the modern small hatch, with maximum utilisation of space, flexible seating arrangements and a walk-through capability created by mounting the gearshift in the dash panel.

Safety features include standard driver and front passenger airbags, while side airbags for front seats and side curtain airbags for front and rear seats are available on all models. Retracting brake pedal and parking brake pedal are also standard along with three-point seatbelts for all passengers.

An extensive options program called Customer Free Choice (CFC) means buyers can set their Colt up in all sorts of ways, including bench or bucket seats front or rear and with a large choice of trim options.

Mitsubishi Australia says the Colt's arrival timing is too far away to confirm pricing, specification and mechanical details of the local car.

"The new face of Mitsubishi has arrived. The Colt represents a new direction for Mitsubishi Motors in terms of design and quality," said MMC president and CEO Rolf Eckrodt. "Our alliance with DaimlerChrysler made it possible to achieve the highest safety and quality level."Mr Eckrodt's references to quality are unsurprising considering the warranty cover-up scandal of 2000 that resulted in two million Mitsubishis recalled worldwide.

The choice of the name Colt was also significant as this was the first name used by Mitsubishi for a passenger car when the Colt 600 was launched in 1962. MMC said it decided to bring the nameplate back to show "it is getting back to its roots".

MMC is aiming to sell 7000 Colts a month in Japan for the next five years.

A differently styled version of Colt for Europe currently dubbed NCC - or New Compact Car - will begin production at the NedCar plant in the Netherlands in 2004.

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