While Mitsubishi may be well-known for making four-wheel drive rally replica Evo saloons in varying degrees of madness, its small car output has been, to be honest, pretty dull and efficient.
But not any more, because the Colt CZT is a real fun car, offering a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine and a rough and ready appeal which is missing from so many cars these days.
It’s not perfect – the seating position isn’t great as the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach, and the plastics used inside are poor – but it has got a bit of character.
This is apparent when you take your first drive and wind the rev counter past 3,500rpm. It is the cue for the turbo to do its business and unleash the Colt’s 148bhp. Then it’s a fun ride as the needle closes in on the 7,000rpm red line.
The five-speed manual gearbox helps you keep the engine on the boil. It hasn’t got the precise, mechanical feel of a car such as the Ford Fiesta ST, but the ratios are closely stacked and the feel is good enough to make quick upchanges.
On dual carriageways its buzzy nature can be a little tiring – but this car wasn’t designed for high-mileage, high-speed slogs.
Instead, you need to turn off main roads and find some nice country roads with sweeping bends where you can exploit the CZT’s chassis to the full.
There is bags of grip from its wide tyres and the quick steering rack means it is always fun looking forward to tackling the next corner.
And while the steering wheel doesn’t adjust enough to let you get the perfect position, the heavily-bolstered front seats do a great job of holding you firmly in place. And another thing in the CZT’s favour is that it looks good. In the transition from cooking Colt to hot CZT, Mitsubishi has added a mesh front grille, 16-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler to lend it a bit of muscle.
The interior tweaks aren’t as successful, with gaudy red trim dominating inside and some strange luminescent plastics around the gearbox which extend up to the centre console.
But you’ll be having so much fun behind the wheel that you won’t really notice these minor criticisms.
The CZT is also cost-effective, with Mitsubishi claiming it will return an average of 41.5mpg.
Combined with a bargain front-end price, a strong running costs proposition and low company car tax, Mitsubishi may just have the answer to those drivers who want a hot hatch but can’t afford a Clio 182.
It will be a less common sight on the road, too. Mitsubishi plans to sell just 700 Colt CZTs in the UK this year, ensuring a degree of exclusivity is thrown into the bargain.
Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £12,836
CO2 emissions (g/km): 161
BIK % of P11D in 2005: 19%
Graduated VED rate: £125
Insurance group: 14
Combined mpg: 41.5
CAP Monitor residual value: £4,325/34%
Depreciation 14.18 pence per mile x 60,000: £8,508
Maintenance 2.75 pence per mile x 60,000: £1,650
Fuel 10.02 pence per mile x 60,000: £6,012
Wholelife cost 26.95 pence per mile x 60,000: £16,170
Typical contract hire rate: £268
At a glance
We don’t like
Three rivals to consider
THE Fiat is easily the cheapest car of the four, but it does have the lowest power output – 130bhp. The SEAT appears something of a performance bargain, having the most power (150bhp) and the second cheapest front-end price. The Mitsubishi is slightly behind the Ibiza, offering 148bhp from its turbocharged 1.5-litre engine. The Ford has 148bhp from its 2.0-litre engine, but it is the most expensive car here, costing nearly £1,500 more than the Fiat Punto.
ALL four cars are evenly matched in servicing, maintenance and repair costs, with the Mitsubishi leading the way. The Colt will cost a fleet £1,650 in garage bills over three years/60,000 miles, almost £100 less than the Fiat and SEAT which share second place. The Ford is off the pace here on 3.12ppm, but this is primarily down to the fact that it wears some expensive tyres – Pirelli P Zeros don’t come cheap and they should be replaced like-for-like.
THE Mitsubishi is well ahead of its rivals in fuel costs, with a likely fuel bill of £6,012 over three years/60,000 miles. The Colt is the only car to top 40mpg according to manufacturers’ claimed figures, with 41.5mpg likely if your drivers can resist the temptation to accelerate it up to the red line. The 2.0-litre Fiesta returns 38.2mpg for a petrol bill of £6,528, with the 1.8-litre turbocharged SEAT in third on 35.8mpg for a bill of just under £7,000. The Punto returns 34mpg, resulting in a bill of £7,338 over three years and 60,000 miles.
JUST 0.02 pence per mile separates our top three, with the SEAT sneaking the win on 14.17ppm. CAP estimates it will retain 33% of its cost new after three years/60,000 miles, leaving a cash lost figure of £8,502. A fraction behind is the Mitsubishi, with an RV prediction of 34% but a slightly higher cash lost figure thanks to a higher front-end price. The Fiat is easily the cheapest car, but its RV prediction is just 30%. The Fiesta retains 36%, but it is the most expensive car.
WITH the lowest SMR and fuel costs, and a strong showing in depreciation terms, the Mitsubishi proves to be the most cost-effective car for a fleet to take on. It will cost £16,170 over three years/60,000 miles, compared with £16,956 for the second-placed Fiesta ST, which suffers mainly for its depreciation performance. The SEAT will cost £17,214 while the Fiat Punto HGT comes in with a running cost figure of £17,598.
Emissions and BIK tax rates
DESPITE being one of the most expensive cars in P11d terms, the Colt proves to be the leader in company car tax terms thanks to its low emission 1.5-litre engine. It falls into the 19% benefit-in-kind tax band, resulting in a bill of £45 a month for a 22% taxpayer. The Fiesta is the next cheapest, falling into the 22% band for a tax bill of £54 a month. It is then quite a step back to the SEAT and Fiat, which have much higher emissions. As a result, they will cost £58 a month in tax.
IF your drivers want a hot hatch, but they haven’t got the cash allowance for a Clio 182, then Mitsubishi has the answer with the Colt CZT. While it may not have the motorsport pedigree of the hot Renault, it is a lot cheaper and more accessible to younger drivers. Factor in a strong running costs proposition and low company car tax bills and the Mitsubishi is the winner.