Options Fitted: None
Recommended Retail Price: $21,990
On Road Price: Around $25,000 but definitely shop around
Where it sits: There are three models in the Mitsubishi Colt range starting with the manual only ES, followed by the LS with a five speed manual or CVT Automatic. The VRX is the ‘sports look’ model although you can step up to the high performance Colt Ralliart and join the ‘Hot Hatch’ club, if that’s your thing.
HOW IT GOES
With a 1.5L MIVEC engine (Mitsubishi’s revered Lancer Evolution IX uses this same technology) matted to their Continuously Variable Transmission or INVECS III CVT as it’s known, the Colt VRX has plenty of go whenever you plant the right foot. That said, driving this car with a CVT Auto is a little strange at first, as there are no actual gear changes, given that there’s no actual gearbox! A bunch of pulleys and belts have replaced the gears. The real beauty of this transmission type is that drivers are rewarded with smooth and progressive acceleration with better than average fuel economy. While I had this car, I took the opportunity to drive the GETRAG 5-speed manual version and can happily report that the CVT was easily the more responsive drive.
(For those of you who are unsure about the CVT transmission, don’t be. This technology has been around for a while. The famous Dutch truck company D.A.F produced small cars in the late 1950’s with their version called “Variomatic” transmission. Other versions of the CVT are currently employed by many car companies including Audi, Honda, Nissan and Mercedes Benz due to their performance and fuel saving characteristics). For more information, you can check out Car Advice's entry for CVT
HOW IT HANDLES
While the VRX CVT is not a sports car, more sports styling, it is however, fitted with a set of larger alloy wheels and tyres than you get with the Mitsubishi Colt ES and LS. Also on board are four wheel disc brakes (fronts are ventilated) with ABS, EBD and a brake assist function, all of which provide superior levels of braking in this class.
This car has been tuned for Australian roads and as such produces a reasonable balance between cornering stability and comfort. The car handles corners and grips quite well although, there’s some body roll when driven with enthusiasm but I can live with that, given its tallish shape and the benefits that provides. The steering is electric power-assisted and while not overly direct, is well weighted and provides a predictable response. Given that most cars in this class are purchased by city dwellers, the Mitsubishi Colt VRX is a cinch to manoeuvre in tight spaces although the thick front pillars can block vision in some situations.
Most small cars these days offer lots of bang for your buck. They have to. Buyers in this segment want all the benefits and features of larger and more expensive choices. The Mitsubishi Colt VRX is a standout among the busy small car market with its ultra modern shape described by Mitsubishi as a “one–motion form that flows from the length of the body”
Everything about this car works, from the ground up.
The five-spoke alloys coupled with the meaty Dunlop SP Sport 3000 tyres speak “sports”. The deep front grille with mesh inserts and fog lights look the business, and the front headlight assembly looks like something out of the movie “I-Robot”.
Even the side mirrors have a swoop back, aerodynamic design which apparently repels water droplets. Also worth a mention, is the rear light assembly with the high mount stop lamp, similar to that on the super safe Volvo wagon family. There’s clearly a lot of thought gone into the overall design of this car, right down to the chrome look badging on the grille and rear hatch, which all look good.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
The modern design and feel of the Colt continues when you step inside. My first reaction is that this feels like a much bigger car. There is loads of rear leg and head room due in part to the high roof design. I put my cousin in the front seat and at 188cm (six-foot two inches) he still had heaps of headroom There are proper sports seats up front with decent levels of side bolster to hold you squarely in the seat through the bends. The leather covered sports steering wheel is a treat to hold, and is the same as fitted to the performance Ralliart version. Disappointing though, are the lack of audio control buttons on the wheel which in my opinion should be standard kit on this car. Rear seats are set higher than the front similar to that in the Mercedes Benz A-Class and Honda Jazz, so that rear passengers have clear forward vision.
Gearshifts are via a push button activated column shift which is surprisingly easy to use and frees up space between the front seats. Instrumentation is very clean with sports look dials (these look great when illuminated), while the switchgear is well laid out and simple to use. Alloy Pedals add to the sports look, as does the chrome exhaust extension on the VRX.
SPACE, STORAGE AND PRACTICALITY.
I’ve already said this car has loads of head and leg room but I have a problem with the design of the 50/50 split-folding rear seats and how that affects the load carrying capacity.
While there is reasonable carrying space behind the rear seats, it’s not class leading. If want to extend the load area, the rear seats do fold all the way forward (and you won’t need to remove the head rests) but not flat into the floor. This means that you can’t use the space as a flat cargo area or tray as you can in the similar styled Honda Jazz. The other issue I have is that there is no cargo area illumination, not even a centre mounted roof light. You have to rely on the front mounted map lights or carry a torch, should you need light back there.
However, there’s plenty of clever storage built into the Colt. There’s deep side pocket storage with separate bottle holders in both front door sides although the rear door pockets are too small to be effective. There are two retractable cup holders which pop out of the front dash, with the rear passengers accommodated by two sliding cup holders as part of the ‘centre console system’. There’s a roof mounted sunglass holder and business card holder together with additional storage spaces under the steering wheel and below the audio system. The glovebox is huge and can hold a tonne of nicks and knacks. Oh yeah, there are luggage tie down hooks in the rear cargo area as well as hooks where you can hang your shopping bags, which really are useful.
Gone is the traditional handbrake which has been replaced by a foot-operated parking brake which simply provides more room between the seats and makes sliding across seats (if you do that sort of thing) much easier. Let’s hope that the push button operated electronic park brakes found in some of the luxury German and Japanese cars end up in small cars like the Colt sometime soon.
Interior comfort and features is where the Colt VRX sings louder than most. First of all, you get privacy glass. For those of you who need a translation, that’s dark tinted windows on the passenger and rear tailgate glass. This is great if you have got kids and want the sun off them. It also helps keep the interior temperature down in our scorching summers. The audio system is a 6-CD, 4-speaker in-dash stacker with MP3/WMA compatibility (you can plug in the ipod) with reasonable sound quality.
Remote keyless entry and engine immobiliser are standard along with power windows and mirrors. However, you also get one touch electric folding mirrors which are great for use in car parks and tight garages which can also be activated from you remote key. Should you forget to fold the mirrors back before you drive away, don’t panic, they will do it automatically when you hit 30km/h.
There’s a driver’s armrest and footrest for highway comfort and of course air conditioning – with a pollen filter. The wipers are speed sensitive with intermittent control and are particularly effective across the large front windscreen area. You also get a rear wiper with intermittent control which is useful when backing up in the rain.
There are a number of nice metal accents throughout the car which along with some carefully chosen two-tone plastics, add to the European look and feel of this car. One of the few options on the VRX is an electric-tilt and slide sunroof and at $1600, is not bad value these days.
All models in the Colt range come with SRS front airbags for driver and front passenger however, you can add Side and Curtain airbags but that will set you back another $1,200.
ABS and EBD together with a Brake Assist function is also standard across the range, with the VRX adding four-wheel disc brakes. Front seatbelts are height adjustable three-point with pretensioners and force limiters while in the rear, you get two-three point belts but the centre is only a lap belt.
The Colt also benefits from Mitsubishi’s RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Program) which provides additional body stiffness and “directs impact forces away from the passenger compartment during a collision. Side door impact bars with a rigid door structure are also built into the car, as are a collapsible brake pedal and steering wheel which can all lesson the extent of serious injury in accidents.
COST OF OWNERSHIP
With an extensive list of features and contemporary styling, the Colt VRX with CVT represents very good value for money at $21,990. Even better, when you consider Mitsubishi’s 5/10 warranty on the car. That’s five years from bumper to bumper and ten years on the powertrain (engine and transmission). Fuel consumption on the CVT model is listed at 5.6 litres of standard unleaded/100 kilometres although; you tend to zip around in the VRX which probably means 5.9 litres/100 kilometres in the real world. I should mention that the fuel tank capacity has grown from 42 litres to 45 litres which is above average for a car this size.
You’d be hard pressed not to find a colour you liked in most new cars today given the emphasis on styling, and with Mitsubishi’s Colt, it’s no different. You can get it in the following flavours;
White, cool silver (Metallic) Butterscotch (leave this colour alone), Red (Metallic) Gunmetal (Pearlescent), Black (Pearlescent and my pick)
However, like the Honda Jazz, Mitsubishi charge an additional $300 for either the metallic or pearlescent option. White is OK, but for 300 bucks, I’d go for one of the optional colours as it will make a difference at re-sale.
The Mitsubishi Colt VRX oozes style and is loaded with so many ‘big car’ features that it must be considered a class leader in the busy small car segment.
By Anthony Crawford