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Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart
5/10

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Road Test

Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart

Driven May 2009

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Quick straw poll. What does CZT mean to you? I'm guessing not a lot. Now, what does Ralliart mean to you? That'll be Tommi Makkinen, cars getting airborne, power slides. Good stuff. Which is why it's entirely right that Mitsubishi has facelifted the hottish Colt and dropped the CZT name - it's now badged ‘Ralliart' and makes so much more sense.

This is in line with a refresh across the rest of the range, so the Colt now looks more like its Lancer big brother. We don't mean Lancer Evo though. The Ralliart Colt is still a toned down supermini that doesn't look as ‘wide boy' as the Evo. That's also reflected in how it drives. Don't think of this as a rival for the Clio RenaultSport, it's closer to the money, power and attitude of the Twingo RenaultSport.

You get the pre-facelift 1.5-litre turbo engine with 147bhp and 155lb ft. For just over 12 grand, that's a lot of power and the Colt never feels slow - the turbo kicks in at about 2,000rpm so it's easy to keep it in the power band. It's not the most refined engine and gets coarse if you really rev it, so better to stick with the turbo's torque and shift up early.

If only the gearchange had a better action. You can change cogs much quicker in the Twingo. The Colt's gear lever is a bit sticky and doesn't flow across the gate well enough. It means that driving it is frustrating because you're always waiting for the gearbox to catch up with what your brain and right foot have set in motion.

The steering is a bit problematic too. It's fine most of the time, and at a brisker pace it's responsive enough to convince you this is a sportier hatch. It matches the hard chassis well, and there's little hesitation from anywhere as you turn into a corner. But in town, where this car will still spend a lot of its time, the steering is too unwieldy and heavy.

The problem overall is a lack of finesse. From a driving point of view, the Colt Ralliart is nearly up there with the Twingo, but inside it looks dated, despite the new plastics and design. Put simply, to contend in this class, it needs more sparkle.

Piers Ward

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