Test drive: Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart 1.5 Turbo 5-speed manual

The TotallyMotor Verdict


They say that the devil is in the detail, and if you look closely at the badging details around this Sparkling Black Mitsubishi Colt the keen eye’d motorsport fans among you might raise an eyebrow in excited expectation. I know I did.

Now, we’ve already tried out the Mitsubishi Colt Juro 1.3 petrol 5-speed manual on which this Ralliart variant is based and it’s an enjoyable little twists and turns performer, but there has been much fast-fun-focused tuning of this Ralliart black beastie. 0-62mph in 7.6secs sounds pretty good for (flying) starters, right?

It’s all about the red and orange Ralliart badges front and rear and the TURBO temptation made out in chrome behind each front wheel. You might expect rally and motorsport maestros Ralliart’s fettling behind more expensive Mitsubishis, like the blistering Evolution, but power now comes in smaller, £13,949-priced packages – the 147bhp Colt Ralliart. Less chat - give me those keys!

Test drive: Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart 1.5 Turbo 5-speed manual

First impressions:
Much of the current range of Mitsubishi cars are wearing what the company calls “Jet Fighter” styling; the frowning stare to a sharp and aggressive front-end. It’s an entirely appropriate look for the evil Lancer Evolution and as we’re all so tuned in to the bare, ballsy performance facts of the Evolution we might only expect to see the sinister styling on Mitsubishi’s more driver-focused cars. 

Well, a few minutes behind the wheel of the Colt Ralliart quickly confirm that this feisty little motor does indeed deserve its jet fighter, fighting face. 

This TotallyMotor test car is presented with 5-doors, priced at £14,449, but I’d be interested in the 3-door car for looks and price; it’s £13,949. You can keep your extra doors! 

The front-end is sorted with that sly styling while round the back there’s a short boot in keeping with the Colt’s city car size which, like the front, is punctuated with accusing-looking illuminations. 

From the side the Colt is looking a little top-heavy; the price of a vertically spacious interior, but its gently flared wheels arches and Ralliart hunkered suspension do add a little more of stockiness to the standard Colt’s first impression. 

The 1.3 Juro model we’ve already tested shares the same 16-inch, 5-spoke and nicely detailed alloy wheels, but with the Ralliart they're painted a more moody dark grey. The Sparkling Black metallic body paint lives up to its sparkling name in this summer sun. 

You might look at the Colt and wonder what an extra inch on the wheels would do for overall looks, and I mulled over the idea of lowering the suspension a touch and fitting similar pure-Japanese-style, but 17-inch, wheels for extra mean purpose. But don’t do it – this car's wheels, suspension and ride height are all tuned-in for awesome back lane fun. More on that later. 

Perhaps not traditionally pretty and certainly not cute – fine by me – by what the Colt Ralliart does do well in the looks department is give off a taste of techno-purpose; that it was designed with fast intent. And I’ve always enjoyed that about quicker Mitsubishis. But, it’d be a 3-door in white for me.

Into the interior:
The most obvious – and important – difference between the Ralliart Colt variant and the more standard CZ2 model on which it’s based is the seating. Mitsubishi call them sports seats, and while the “sports” moniker is all too often bandied around in car-land, these pilot-holsters did indeed keep me locked ‘n’ loaded when the going got quick. 

Comfy, supportive and not bad looking. A little more lowering adjustment to get closer to the floor would’ve added happiness, however. 

My major gripe with the Colt’s controls interaction is the lack of steering wheel slide adjustment.
It goes up and down, but for a tall chap I had to sacrifice leg comfort in order to get closer to the steering wheel. 

That tall roofline gives Colt’s cabin all the headspace you could need and for a car in this smaller-size bracket general front and rear room for bodies, legs and elbows is where it should be. Four adults, no problem. 

Fit and finish is good enough and while there's little in the way of bells and whistles, you do get A/C, a reasonable stereo that handles iPods and, again crucially for this car, a slick gearbox that handles flying changes with ease. And less bells and whistles means less clutter, weight and endless button fiddling. 

The drive:
Heart-melting exterior styling? Perhaps not. Heart-pounding performance? Oh yes! As soon as the hot Colt’s engine was warm and the throttle buried for the first time, I knew we were going to have some fast-fun together. Many hundreds of enjoyment-miles then rolled under its sticky Continental low-profile tyres. 

So, let’s begin at the ground and work our way up. The 1.5-litre, turbocharged engine under that short bonnet is, of course, at the heart of this Colt’s wild riding, but all the lust and shove in the world would be wasted if the power was delivered in a sloppy bucket of bad suspension. 

But, Colt Ralliart’s suspension is just that; a work of rally-art. Grip is tenacious; ride is firm yet plenty pliant enough to keep your vertebrae where they should be, while body roll is felt only in the smallest of sways. 

Hustling along through bumpy switchback back lanes and this Colt is lapping up the bends like it was born to do it; which clearly it was. The Ralliart-tuned shocks and springs keep the tyres in constant road-contact and the Colt just keeps on gripping.

The short wheelbase can give back a little instability under very hard and fast braking, but that’s the price of a short and nimble footprint. Sure, the back-end can get a little light when hard on the stoppers but the car never once went further than a raised eyebrow at a squirrelly rear. 

Disc brakes all-round are up to the haul-up task and while only hardcore track lapping will expose any fade concerns; the back lane fun that this inexpensive car was designed for was delivered for me – an average driver on empty twists and turns.

Contributing to the excitement is the traction control – you don’t hear that said very often! Basically, this system lets the front wheels slip and squeal a little under full acceleration before it trims the power accordingly, and it does it without knocking too much grunt from the 147bhp dollop on offer, so you’ll get no annoying bog-down in forward motion. 

And so the engine. Just 1.5-litres and four cylinders. Oh, and a small and quick-spooling turbocharger. Or, to give it its full name; “1.5-litre MIVEC intercooled and turbocharged Ralliart tuned engine”. Sounds cool? Is hot! 

Just shy of 150bhp is enough to whip the Colt to 62mph in 7.6secs and on to 131mph. And that’s fast enough for fun in such a small car, all the while returning 42.8mpg on the average and 153g/km CO2. The economy figures are lagging behind the very latest crop of eco-focused cars that all dive hard for under 100g/km of CO2, but the Colt Ralliart is an entirely different proposition.

Aimed at the driving enthusiast, the Colt Ralliart gives as much action as you want to take, without ever getting scary and without costing anywhere near Evolution money in terms of sticker price or running costs. It’s an addictive combination of a lusty and torquey turbo motor and a fabulous suspension set up that all comes together in a distinctly Japanese-techno-package offering easy access to driving enjoyment for all skill levels. 

Ten second sum up:
The Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart lives up to its evocative badging with tons of turbo fun for everyone. Enough horsepower shove for driving smiles and goading grip in excess - this feisty little Colt lives for some back lane fun. And if you do too, a test drive is definitely recommended.

Prices and availability:
Colt Ralliart is priced at £13,949 for the 3-door model and £14,449 for the 5-door car.
Available now.


Words & pics: Daniel Anslow

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