The Mitsubishi Cordia was produced and sold from 1982 through 1990. Mitsubishi’s compact hatchback coupé offering, the Cordia fit between the Galant and the Lancer models in Mitsubishi’s line-up. Originally created to increase the number of offerings in Mitsubishi’s passenger line, the Cordia also stood beside the Tredia and the Starion in the automaker’s ever growing selection.
The name came from a mixture of two words. The first was ‘cordierite,’ a precious mineral, while the second was ‘diamonds,’ inspired by Mitsubishi’s distinctive 3-diamond logo. The Cordia was only marginally popular both here and abroad, and the car was eventually phased out of production in 1990 and not sold here after 1988.
The Cordia was produced over three generations. The first generation, released in 1982 and named the AA, was similar in design and platform to the Mitsubishi Mirage. Then, in late 1983, the Cordia received a facelift, with minor changes to the body styling and the addition of a four-wheel drive option. This second generation was known as the AB. The third and final generation of the Cordia, appropriately named the AC, was released in 1985. This generation included a major overhaul, allowing all new Cordia models to run on unleaded fuel. With each successive generation, various engine options and trims were offered to buyers, providing a wide range of alternatives for Mitsubishi enthusiasts.
Cordia styling was very of its time and very Japanese-inspired, despite the fact that the cars were manufactured in New Zealand. A turbocharged option was perhaps the most popular throughout the Cordia’s run, and a high number of Cordia Turbos were sold. These cars really showed their stuff on a straight-line go, going from 0-100km/h in an average of 8.5 seconds.
Overall though, the car never really found its footing in the market, despite its bargain price tag. Today, you’ll have to scour the pre-owned market in order to find a Cordia in good working condition, but this will be worth the trouble if you are looking for a pokey hatchback. The turbocharged engine, unique styling, and high fuel efficiency may prove irresistible for some used car buyers.
There were various engine options available over the three generations that spanned Cordia production. All engines offered on the Cordia were V4. The first generation received three engine alternatives. A 1.4L option with an output of 51kW was offered alongside a 1.6L with an output of 55kW. In addition, the Cordia was offered in a popular turbo version. This version featured a 1.6L turbocharged engine with an output of 84kW.
The cars were overhauled in 1985, allowing them to run on unleaded fuel and receiving a new range of engines under the bonnet. The new engines were 1.8L V4 Sirius models. One version featured 90kW and 172Nm, while another featured a respectable 110kW of power and 210Nm of torque. Throughout its run on the market, the Cordia was offered with either manual or automatic transmissions.
Cordias were built with both performance and comfort in mind. The original versions featured front disc brakes, manual or automatic transmission, front-wheel drive, and a Macpherson strut/beam axle suspension. Later generations were given the option of four-wheel drive. And 13- or 14-inch alloy wheels were available depending on the year the cars were produced.
Cordias also came equipped with power steering, air-conditioning, bolstered seats, power mirrors, and nice instrumentation. Good rear seat roominess and plenty of space for storage made for a comfortable interior. Overall, the Cordia offered lots of kit and relatively high performance at a low cost.
Performance competitors included the Nissan EXA/ET turbo and the Daihatsu Charade turbo, among others (including competitors from Mitsubishi’s own line of vehicles). The Nissans featured a turbocharged 1.5L engine with 84kW of output. The tiny Daihatsus featured variations on a 3-cylinder 1.0L engine, and, during the Cordia’s heyday, the turbocharged version of the Charade was capable of just 50kW. Overall, however, the Cordia performed well against its competitors, due to its low price and above-average performance. In general, a well-maintained Cordia will still outperform the competition.