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2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
by Karl Peskett

2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review

Model tested: Colt Ralliart turbo

Recommended Retail Price: $29,990

Options fitted: None

Roomy, brilliant handling, strong engine

2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review

Turbo lag, base model shows through

CarAdvice rating:

– by Karl Peskett

Waitresses are the original balance masters. It’s staggering how well they do it. I’m sure you’ve seen them. You know, you walk into a restaurant, and there they are, stacking plates or glasses, until you think “there’s no way they could fit one more on their arm”. But they do. And not only one more, they manage several more.

Of course, there’s only so far they can go before they end up losing all of it. And we’ve all seen that too. As you go higher, the centre of gravity elevates correspondingly. Just like in a car.

As a car gets taller, there’s an increased risk of a roll-over. So please explain how the Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart can be so narrow and tall, yet still handle like it does. The answer is to hand it over to the Ralliart team, and let them have a tinker with it.

2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review

But can you change a leopard’s spots? Were they starting from a below average package to begin with? Well consider the Lancer Evolution. The base model Lancer was a bit iffy, but the Evo series has arguably reached cult status, and no wonder. There are only a few places you can turn for that ‘bang for your buck’. Interesting, then, that a Colt been thrown into the Ralliart mix.

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2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review

Introduced in 2004 the Colt has been a quiet achiever in the small car segment. Only in 2006 was a manual variant added, and it saw sales increase slightly, but rivals such as the Swift, Jazz and Mazda 2 had already garnered more of the market.

So, in late 2006, Mitsubishi saw fit to introduce the Colt Ralliart in an effort to boost sales. Using the same 1.5-litre motor but adding a small turbocharger has upped the power from 77kW to 113kW (a substantial jump of 46%), and bumped the peak torque from 141Nm to 210Nm (a similar increase of 48%).

The respectable rise does come at the cost of turbo lag. And when the revs increase, coarseness begins to rear its ugly head, especially above 4500rpm, but fuel economy is still quite good.

Adding over 40% more power and torque can have disastrous consequences if the rest of the car hasn’t been beefed up. Fortunately, suspension, brakes, tyres and wheels have all been upgraded, and the result is a makeover which, although you wouldn’t call extreme, makes the car a different animal.

The increase in thickness of the stabiliser bar at the front, for instance, is only 1mm, but it’s amazing what a millimetre can do. Bodyroll is contained, and combined with the uprated springs, a strut tower brace, better dampers and more rigid suspension components, the Colt Ralliart is suddenly sporting. This comes as a shock when you look at the car, which is easily perceived as top-heavy.

2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review

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It will dart left and right at only an inkling of steering input, meaning hardly any slack around the straight ahead, much like its Evo sibling. It can be a little deceiving in feel as it tends to spring back to the straight ahead, meaning an artificial weight while cornering. Feedback is pretty good though.

It sits flat when cornering too, and the seat-of-the-pants impression is one of high lateral loading. Probably the Yokohama Advan tyres help here, but the chassis balance is extremely impressive.

2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review

Keep the stability control (ASC in Mitsu speak) on because it will lift-off oversteer quite quickly, with its short wheelbase not helping the case. It is predictable, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. On turn-in it stays neutral, and only pushes wide if you’re going in too hot. Trail braking doesn’t move the tail much though, so it’s a pretty safe car to drive quickly.

Like the Evo too, is the tyre roar on coarse surfaces, and the firm ride. It’s pretty easy to live with day to day though, as passengers won’t complain. Indeed, I transported an 80-year-old lady around the place and she didn’t mind it one bit.

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The Colt’s interior is a vast improvement on the spartan Evo IX. Better quality plastics, and no faux-fibre trim leaves an impression of expense. Mitsu’s press release states that ‘the front Recaros are straight from the Evo VIII MR’. This means they’re a bit tight and squashy; those of the larger-derriere persuasion might need shoehorning in and out.

2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review

The boot could be a little bigger, and a little more attention to the comfy rear seats would be good too. Infact, given the $14K price gap between the top spec Ralliart and base ES colt, there’s little to differentiate them. The same goes for the rest of the interior.

Only one badge appears inside the Colt Ralliart, just in front of the gearshift. Either something on the steering wheel, or on the dash would be good, so that as soon as you sit down, you know what you’ve spent all that extra money on.

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2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review
2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart review

The fun is in the drive though, which is does well. The gearbox is a little notchy, but still snicks into the gate well, with well spaced ratios and the clutch is light and feels good. The strong engine and brakes are a nice addition but there’s one or two drawbacks. The drop of boost between each gear change is a little disappointing, and although the brake feel is good, overuse will see them cooked quickly.

So this is more of a quick-blast-around-the-city kind of car. But it is common for people to use these little beasts in motorkhanas and track work. A quick pad change, sticky tyres, and an ECU reflash will see your Colt suddenly become a stallion. But even as standard, it still returns a 6.7L/100km fuel consumption average.

What about to the everyday man. Do they look at it and see the potential? Put simply, does it have cred? Judging by the comments received during the week running around in it, yup. Statements such as “It’s so cute, but aggressive at the same time,” and “I’ll bet it’d be a bombed daily.” Yes. Definitely. Whatever the hell that meant….

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It’s a fun car to blast around in, and it surprises with its agility. Handling, braking, steering and performance are all a step up from the standard Colt. But the pricetag is getting up there; $29,990 is a fair whack for what essentially is a done-up Colt. Plus with Fiesta XR4, VW Polo GTI, and Suzuki Swift Sport all undercutting it by thousands of dollars, it’s going to have its work cut out for it.

For those in doubt, the elements of this vehicle’s name fit. This is no boxy, poxy, oxymoron of a car. It’s a well sorted package that lives up to the rally heritage of the company. Yes, the Evo has a feisty little brother. It’s called the Colt Ralliart.

2008 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart specifications

CarAdvice overall rating:

How does it drive:

How does it look:

How does it go:

Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged
Power: 113kW
Torque: 210Nm
Top speed: N/A
Safety: ABS, Dual Front, Side and Curtain Airbags, ASC
0-100km/h: N/A
ANCAP rating: 3 Stars
Turning circle: 10.8 metres
Fuel tank: 45 litres
Fuel consumption : 6.7 litres /100km (combined)
Fuel type: 95RON Unleaded

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Anthony

    I reviewed this car over a year ago and probably would have awarded it five wheels! The Colt Ralliart is totally underrated but perhaps slightly overpriced when compared to say a Polo GTI. Thing is though, the Colt will demolish the Polo, the moment you hit any curvy sections, and the sports seats are phenomenal.

  • jbot

    Great review as always Karl.

  • Mitch

    you guys are missing a next button on the 5th page

  • Anthonii

    Its like a bad mullet,
    Looks business up front and for the back… well WTF IS THAT!

  • Reckless1

    It might beat a Polo GTi round some corners, but the Polo is streets ahead in every other way.

  • Ivan

    I would still prefer Suzuki Swift Sprots, looks better. But don’t know about the performance, maybe if Suzuki release one with a turbo, maybe….

  • Duck

    Golf is better and cheaper! Has 5 seats! The Colt only has four!

  • Duck

    It does look like it has five seats, but i heard it only has four (roadahead mag)and a 3 star ANCAP is pretty bad!

  • Grant

    Duck, the golf is not cheaper (around $40k)

    your thinking of the vw polo gti at $27k

    for less than $2000 you can give the polo an APR ecu flash and it makes 150kw and 320nm. eat that colt

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Anthony

    Grant – the Colt Ralliart will hammer the Polo (that’s with the APR ecu flash) on any twisty section you care to name.

  • Duck

    ^^^^^^^^^^Sorry i meant Polo GTi

  • Duck

    Out of these five cars what would you rather buy…………………

    Peugeot 207 GT ($31,990)
    VW Polo GTi ($26,990)
    Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart ($29,990)
    Suzuki Swift Sport ($23,990)
    Opel Corsa VXR (I dont know how much it costs and i know they dont sell it in Australia but im wondering if people would consider this than the other cars above)

  • Duck

    ^^^^^^^^^Peugeot 207 GT is $31,490.

  • D 1 0 N

    I think these are cool, had a look on carsales.com.au and they can be had 2nd hand with less than 10,000 km on them for around $20k, which is damn good I think, tho it doesn’t bode well for future resale value

  • Steven A

    When you drive one of these things will be the only time you will really appreciate how much fun it is, this is all about the rally winning heritage Mitsubishi has earned.
    Wait for the Lancer EvoX and even the Ralliart variants this year.

  • Phul

    I bought one for the wife, I love driving the car and being a large person 6″ and over 100Kilos I can sit in the back seat very easily. Its a great car that handles, stops and goes and doesnt look like everything else on the road.
    2 thumbs up to Mitsubishi, Well done!

  • McCoy

    Considering you can buy a Ralliart for $25,990 Drive Away Brand new, as per the national advertising campaign, that changes the whole dynamics of the competition. Maybe if the Polo was 25K driveway it could be comparable, but since it’s now well over 7K more on road, then its VERY hard to go past EVO’s little brother.

  • Fred

    About time a TRD Yaris joins the party…

  • technofreak

    Love the concept, but the shape…? I dont know? Just seems so tall and lanky :(

  • Seb

    TRD Yaris??

    Mmmm, just what everyone needs. A ‘sporty’ microwave.

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au/9708/2008-mitsubishi-colt-ralliart-review/6/ andy

    I have owned one for 5 months and they are great. A few minor downfalls such as road noise and no cruise control but 5 year warranty and blasts a XR4/Polo GTI for performance and individuality. Much safer than the motorbike I sold and great on fuel – 8ltr/100 even when thrashed

  • http://carsandcoolstuff.blogspot.com Christopher

    I love it! it is literally a mini-evo, I bet it’s good on the insurance too.

    Lookswise at the front, it’s great, I don’t know about the rear though and the fact it looks like a mini people carrier from the side.

    It is definitely something a bit special though. Anyone know if this is a limited run thing? when ralliart gets involved they seem to like their limited editions

  • TenX

    This is a fun car to drive around, good performance and good on fuel, the only thing that it really lack is the after market parts, however with some right parts this car can stand up well against the rest of the competition even in terms of after market

  • J-Man

    Just bought one of these 2nd hand last week and it is awesome… I love it. I was downgrading from a larger car and can’t believe I didn’t do that earlier. As for VW, I think that is a brand on the way out. Build quality is being questioned quite a bit, especially since they moved a lot of their “factories” to South Africa…

  • Charlie

    This vehicle is truly awsome. I borrowed a friends for the w/e and was totally amazed, it’s very quick and handling is perfect, it’s wierd because to look at the car, you can’t picture it turning so well.. Anyway I’m bying one asap. Oh and the seats are insane they hold on to you like glue, makes u feel very safe.

  • James

    Oh my god 29,990 i thought they where cheap. Lancer and the sport models are nice and ok but not this.

  • James

    Very Small and Roomy, Im not being mean to people that drive them but if a Barina Spark and a Colt had a race the Barina Spark would Win for Sure!

    • James

      Wow, Quite Expensive!

  • Nelson3082003

    lol barina spark go drive one before makin stupid commentsa and you can buy one now 2nd hand for under 20 grand and this is bye far the best for your buck  car goin around, go try one and you will see