Mitsubishi Colt was a nameplate that applied to an incredible variety of cars from 1962 through 2012. The Mitsubishi Colt was built by Mitsubishi Motors Australia from 1982 until late 1989 and from 2002 to 2012. The 1980s version referred to a Colt based on the Mirage model, which was the name given to the car that Mitsubishi sold in Japan.
While the Mitsubishi Colt began as its own subcompact car series back in 1962, it’s best known as a reappropriated name for the exported version of the Mirage from 1982 through 1989, as well as for a more recent series known internationally as the Colt from 2002 through 2012. To make matters more confusing, the new name for that series has reverted back to Mirage, and the Mitsubishi Colt name has been officially retired as of 2012.
Five generations of Mirage-based Colts were released from 1978 to 2002, but regardless of the series, Mitsubishi’s Colt has always served as the brand’s response to consumer demand for smaller cars. It’s intended to be a cute, entry-level car that represents many people’s first experience with Mitsubishi. Although there are sportier, ‘pocket rocket’ versions of the Colt, most drivers choose the Colt because it gets the job done with reasonably good fundamental features at an affordable price.
The 21st-century rebirth of the five-door Mitsubishi Colt was Mitsubishi’s successful entry into the light vehicle market internationally. Under the bonnet of the 2004 Colt, the car featured a 1.5L, 4-cylinder engine with 72kW of power and 131Nm of torque. Clearly, this wasn’t going to win any races, but it was enough poke for a typical driver. Where it really shined, though, was in the transmission: a revolutionary CVT, or continuously variable transmission. The CVT offered a seamless gearshift without discrete gear changes, effectively allowing infinite gear options. Also notable was the Colt’s 6.4L/100km fuel consumption, which is near the top of its class.
The 2006 Colt line-up had big changes in store. A new ES model arrived to take the place of the LS, bumping it up to mid-spec. Above the mid-spec LS was the VRX, a sporty model that added class to the Colt name. Above that was the newest player, the Colt Ralliart. This performance-minded vehicle featured a high-compression turbocharged MIVEC 1.5L twin cam engine. Even with its impressive 113kW of power and 210Nm of torque, this vehicle had a fuel consumption rating of just 6.4L/100km.
Another in-demand vehicle that rounded out the Colt line-up was the 2006 Mitsubishi Colt Cabriolet, an open-top car with powerful specs of its own. The base version had a naturally aspirated 1.5L engine with 80kW of power and 145Nm of torque, while the turbo version had 110kW of power and 210Nm of torque. Both of these were mated to a 5-speed manual GETRAG transmission, and they had excellent fuel consumption ratings of 6.6L/100km and 7.1L/100km respectively.
The entry-level 2004 Mitsubishi Colt LS came with impressive standard kit, including air-conditioning, remote central locking, engine immobiliser, electric windows and mirrors, a CD player, and anti-lock brakes. Bumping up to the XLS added new perks like a leather-bound steering wheel, tachometer, 15-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, and a centre console. The optional kit included side airbags, metallic paint, and a sunroof, as most of the extras someone might want were included standard with the XLS trim.
In 2006, there was a decent update to the Colt five-door hatch. While most of the standard gear remained the same, Mitsubishi added a new entry-level ES model with a non-CVT manual transmission, plus the big features of the VRX, Ralliart, and Cabriolet. It also featured a higher ANCAP safety rating than the previous 2004 models.
At the time that the 21st-century Mitsubishi Colt was trying to gain traction, the Honda Jazz and Mazda2 were the cars to beat in the subcompact class. The Mitsubishi Colt also faced competition from the Hyundai Getz, Ford Fiesta, Holden Barina, Toyota Echo, and Peugeot 206 on various points, but the strongest and most direct competitors were Honda and Mazda.
What set Mitsubishi apart was its strategy. The automaker had a highly restricted range that didn’t focus on offering customization, but instead on offering a good value for the specs that customers would want anyway. Ultimately, it competed well on value for the money, while the Honda Jazz was attractive for its luxurious interior and the Mazda2 for its sporty handling and performance. That performance still wasn’t as good as the Colt’s though, as the Mazda2 still came in at only 135Nm and 76kW. Even today, the Colt gets the job done for less money.