I never really pictured the Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart as a rally car (despite the name), I mean its a small little hot hatch.. Nonetheless, the little colt has proved me wrong over the weekend at the Targa West Tarmac rally, coming second in its class and third outright in the three-day event's Challenge category.
Not bad for a car worth around $29,990.
"Who would have thought a little hatchback could run away from the likes of a potent BMW 535, a Subaru WRX STi, a brace of Aussie V8 muscle cars and even a couple of Porsche 911s?" said the Colt Ralliart's driver, Perth remedial therapist Robert Buys.
Buys and his co-driver, his motoring journalist father Bill, delighted in rivals nicknaming the Colt Ralliart "the dark horse!"
The only car to beat it in its class was the $56,990 Subaru WRX STi of fellow West Australians Mark O'Kane and Jeff Sadler, while on the final day the extra power (248kW versus 113kW) of the BMW M3 of Robert Darrington and Basil Lenso, also West Australians, nudged the Colt Ralliart from second to third overall in the Challenge category.
Nevertheless, the Colt Ralliart won Challenge on two stages, including the last, and its times would have seen it mid-field outright in the Competition class, which was won by the Evolution IX Mitsubishi Ralliart Lancer of Ross Dunkerton and Alan Stean against about 70 other cars - mainly exotic marques.
Driver Buys said the Colt Ralliart was "the tallest car with the smallest engine" - a 1.5-litre turbocharged and intercooled MIVEC (Mitsubishi's variable valve timing).
"It's a superb performance package with all the benefits of a Getrag 5-speed manual transmission, Sachs clutch, 16" alloy wheels with high-performance, low-profile tyres, a stiff, braced suspension and terrific stopping power.
Even when the BMW M3 overtook the Colt Ralliart four stages from the end the Buys' "didn't mind".
"Our car didn't cost $160,000 and we had a load of fun anyway," Robert said.
"And in winning the last stage we pegged back a second on the Beemer!
"The cars we beat were an AC Cobra replica, BMW 535i, Porsche 911 Targa, Holden HSV Grange, a Mitsubishi Evo VIII, Holden Clubsport R8, Falcon BA GT, Porsche 911 Cabrio, a Subaru WRX STi and a Lotus Elise."
The Colt Ralliart develops its 113kW of power at 6000rpm and 210Nm of torque at 3500rpm.
Its sports suspension has been tuned for enthusiastic driving, while the brakes, wheels and tyres are significantly upgraded from the standard model Colt to handle the extra performance the Ralliart version delivers.
Active Stability Control, incorporating Active Traction Control, is fitted as standard, and Colt Ralliart's body has 30 per cent more torsional rigidity than the standard Colt, providing the platform for the car's outstanding handling.
If you can afford it, the Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart is available from a select, specially-trained group of Ralliart dealers. If you can't afford the Ralliart, you can always try your luck with the Mitsubishi Colt VRX.