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Mitsubishi Colt hatchback (2004 – 2013) expert review

By Stuart Milne, 17th May 2006

The verdict

The Mitsubishi Colt delivers typical Japanese reliability in an attractive hatchback with European styling.

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Expert rating:



  • Smart styling
  • Low running costs
  • Large doors offer easy access


  • Underpowered on the open road
  • Restricted visibility
  • Body roll evident when cornering

Full Review

1. Exterior

The Mitsubishi Colt is unusual among Japanese superminis as it has been designed in Europe, for the European market. It’s not as stylish as the Fiat Punto, but more chic than the now-defunct Smart ForFour, with which it shares 60 per cent of its components. Our three-door test car had a more heavily raked windscreen and bonnet than the five-door and gave the illusion of being lower than its lofty 1520mm height would indicate.
Our rating: 4

2. Interior

Mitsubishi has moved away from acres of grey plastic with the Colt, opting for a more contemporary feel. The top of the dash has swapped grained plastic for a textured, patterned surface, adding to the quality feel. The controls are clearly laid out and logically placed. A temperature gauge is strangely absent from the instrument cluster. The air-con and radio controls are chunky and easy to use, although when the headlights are on, they adopt a nasty green glow. A multi-function display is a nice touch for a car at this price.
Our rating: 3

3. Practicality

Our three-door model offered huge doors, allowing the occupants to climb in and out with ease. With its high roofline, there’s bags of space for the taller driver, and we weren’t banging elbows with our front seat passengers. The rear seats slide back and forth, allowing the occupants to choose between 155 and 235 litres of boot space, with the leg room varying accordingly. Overly thick windscreen pillars often obscured other cars, particularly when pulling out of side turnings, while the offset steering wheel was the cause of backache on longer runs.
Our rating: 4

4. Ride and Handling

Even though the Colt is likely to spend most of its time around town, show it some open road and it performs admirably. The ride quality is very good, although there’s a fair amount of body roll around corners. It feels very sure-footed on the road, and only reveals limitations on particularly bumpy roads. When stationary, the power steering is light, ideal for the urban sprawl, but weights up nicely on the move, providing lots of feedback.
Our rating: 3

5. Performance

Our test car featured a 1.1-litre powerplant which developed 74bhp – enough to haul the Colt’s 930kg from standstill to 60mph in 12.9 seconds and on to 103mph. Outright performance isn’t earth-shattering, but it’s nippy enough around town. The three-cylinder unit is smooth and quiet at low speeds, but although loud on the motorway, it does have a character to the engine note. It emits 130g/km of CO2, placing it in tax band C, which currently costs £100 per year. A 1.3-litre petrol and a 1.5 diesel are also available.
Our rating: 3

6. Running Costs

Our 1.1-litre consistently managed over 40mpg, and we wouldn’t doubt the manufacturer’s claimed average of 49.6mpg. If you’re planning on bigger mileages, the 1.5 diesel might be a better bet, with a claimed average of 58.9mpg, although it costs more to buy. The Colt comes with a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, and servicing is every 12,500 miles or 12 months. Mitsubishi will also throw in three years’ worth of breakdown cover, should the worst happen. Insurance should be cheap, weighing in at Group 3 for the 1.1 and Group 5 for the 1.3 and 1.5 diesel.
Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

Mitsubishi seems to have done a good job of screwing the Colt together properly, and there was no sign of anything coming off in our hands. It has a pretty good reputation for not breaking down; and according to the Reliability Index, it’s below average for breakdowns and repair costs. The Colt’s powerplants have been developed by Mitsubishi and its partner, DaimlerChrysler (which also owns Mercedes), so they shouldn’t give cause for concern.
Our rating: 4

8. Safety

An excellent score for the Colt’s safety systems. Anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution are fitted as standard across the range, and the chassis has been designed with occupant protection in mind. All models come with driver and passenger airbags, with a deactivation switch for the passenger side (child seats should not be used where there is an active airbag). Parents will also be pleased to know Isofix child seat mountings are included. Our CZ1 test car lacked side airbags, although both the CZ3 and CZT hot hatch carry them as standard.
Our rating: 3

9. Equipment

Our CZ1 variant had all the basics you’d expect of a £7,500 car: an integrated radio/CD player, remote central locking and electric windows. Our test car also came with air-con, which isan option. Upgrading to the CZ2 (1.3 only) gets it as standard, alongside steering wheel-mounted stereo controls, rear brake discs and alloys. Moving up to the sporty CZ3 brings all the trimmings. The CZT hot hatch is costly, but it should provide more than enough thrills for your bills.
Our rating: 3

10. Why buy?

The Colt provides an interesting – and unusual – alternative to the established supermini set – Micra, Yaris, Jazz, et al. Its main trump card for us Brits is that it was designed with the European market in mind, which demands more style, flair and panache than other Japanese runabouts offer. And in doing so, the Colt feels it should be as much as home in Milan as Manchester.
Our rating: 4

Expert review 3.5stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior3
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling3
  • Performance3
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability4
  • Safety4
  • Equipment3
  • Why buy?4

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:
Colt 1.1 MPI CZ1
Base-model Colt includes CD player and electric windows
Colt 1.3 CZ2
Mid-spec CZ2 has power and equipment
Blow the budget:
Colt 1.5 Ralliart
Ralliart adds Evo styling to the little hatch

The Colt feels it should be as much at home in Milan as Manchester