Mitsubishi Colt Version-R Review: Colt gets a Boost

Mitsubishi Colt Version-R Review: Colt gets a Boost

OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
13 Dec 2006

Almost everyone knows that turbocharging does wonders to a car’s performance, and one of the early adaptors of this technology has been Mitsubishi. In the early 80s it offered a turbocharged version for every single model in its line-up, and in the mid-90s it was turbocharging (and all-wheel drive) that transformed the Lancer into the Lancer Evolution, or ‘Evo’, into a rally-winning champion, now in its IX th evolutionary state of tune.

In many ways, the Colt Version-R has taken a long time to come. Every other model in the Mitsubishi line-up, from the tiny 660cc i to the mighty Lancer Evo IX, uses a turbocharger to get the adrenaline flowing and hearts pumping, so its really a wonder why its taken so long for this treatment to reach the Colt.

Well, maybe not so long since the Colt Plus was available with a turbocharger when it was launched in 2005. But more than just getting boosted, it is all the other aspects of having a car’s performance “enhanced” that make the Version-R so special. It’s the “look” – the matt-black body parts, the crucial bonnet-top intercooler vent, the lowered suspension, the bucket seats, extra gauges . . . etc, - all the superficial elements that make any Evo look so much more aggressive than the standard 1.6-litre Lancer sedan.

Well, I’m glad to say Mitsubishi has done justice to the Colt’s turbo transformation – the Version-R gets all the nice bits that do a good job of making the chic and stylish Colt into an aggressive road warrior. It is definitely a better job than the Colt Plus Turbo, or even the Ralliart version, and even the Ralliart Lancer Turbo. IMHO, it’s the matt-black wheel arch extensions and black bumper inserts that really make the Version-R look “right”.

Under the bonnet, the Version-R puts out 150bhp, 45bhp more than the standard Colt, and 3bhp more than the Colt Plus Turbo. Reinforcements around the rear of the car has reinforced and stiffened the Version-R, allowing it to take on the extra power. The front and rear suspension mounts have also been reinforced, and the work done to the Colt seems to be more thorough than that done on the 1.8-litre Lancer Ralliart Turbo, which is fast, but also unnecessarily nervous.

With hot looks, the necessary tweaks to the suspension and body, and a powerful engine, how does the Version-R drive? Well, the performance is certainly there – whack the accelerator and the hot Colt bolts forward in an instant, the turbocharger kicks in seamlessly without any lag, as one would expect from a company that has nearly 30 years of turbocharging experience. The steering is direct, and the 205/45R16 Yokohama Advan Neova AD07s are wonderfully sticky, even in wet conditions. The Version-R feels firmly planted, more so than the Lancer Turbo.

Depending on how you look at it, the Colt’s Continuously Variable Transmission is either an attraction or distraction. On the plus side, it is impressively coupled to the powerplant, and it efficiently translates the all the power to the road. It gets the Version-R ahead of the pack in traffic, but it does so with the cool, gear-less CVT manner that isn’t very involving. One would see CVT as a minus if “getting involved” (clutching, changing gears, de-clutching , . . . etc) is the reason why one gets a “hot hatch” in the first place. There are the 6 “virtual” gear ratios of course, but these are also too smooth and seamless to take the place of the actual gears. The Version-R is quick, but sometimes how one gets to the destination is more important than actually getting there as quickly as possible.

The other unusual aspect of the Version-R that is a carryover from the standard Colt is the foot-operated parking brake. The original Colt had this brake and column gear shift because it had a front bench seat, and facelifted Colt had the shifter moved to the floor, but the parking brake remained foot-operated. One expects this on a Toyota Camry or Mercedes-Benz, but on a souped-up hot hatch Colt? - maybe not. On the other hand, together with the CVT, it does give the Version-R an oddball personality.

To complete the transformation from chic Colt to “hot” Version-R, the dashboard gets attractive white-and-red contrasting instrumentation, red panels on the centre console and around the airvents. There are also extra gauges – for temperature, engine pressure and turbo boost pressure, and while they look great, especially the pressure gauges that tick nervously before the turbo kicks in, they were a bit small to really be useful. The rear passengers are not left out either – they get a couple of bucket seats instead of the standard three-piece bench seat.

So yes, its great that turbocharging has finally been applied to the Colt, possibly the most stylish hatchback on the market. The Ralliart body bits really do do a good in making the Version-R a convincing hot-hatch. If you’re a CVT fan, the Colt Version-R is the is the only high-performance hot-hatch around – which makes it either an odd-ball, or a highly desirable pocket rocket, take your pick.

Credits: Justin Lee

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