Driven - Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart

Now here's a surprise packet. Mitsubishi's modern little Colt has been a slow starter in Australia, in spite of being an up to date design. Pricing and specifications needed adjusting, which the company has done since the launch, and sales are improving. The biggest change was to offer transmissions other than the CVT unit which was all that was available to start with.

The Colt is a very good package, in any version, sharing its structure with the ill-fated Smart Forfour, but thoroughly deserving a better future. One car set to help is the Ralliart version. Far more than a decorative 'sports pack' as is often applied to small cars pretending to be actually sporty (remember Toyota's Echo Sportivo?), the Ralliart is the real deal. It boasts a properly powerful turbocharged engine, uprated suspension, excellent Recaro seats, big wheels on low profile tyres and an electronic aid package which is certainly biased to the sporty driver.

The 113kW, 1.5 litre 16-valve intercooled DOHC, MIVEC turbo engine is a gem.

There's a plethora of little details, like the Evo style bonnet, leather steering wheel and rear spoiler all of which add up to making a very complete package. All of Mitsubishi's Ralliart cars have been extremely well sorted cars - even the long lost Magna, and this pocket rocket is no exception. It's an easy car to get used to, loses none of the practicality of the little Colt and is an absolute blast to drive. A new Mini Cooper S makes a valid comparison - it's that good.

If there's one minor item which bugged me it was the little gearknob. While it was leather-bound it was much smaller then the decent, thick grip of the steering wheel, and detracts from the sporty feel in an annoying way. That said, the driving experience is impressive - it's great fun to throw around, the willing engine, impressive grip and confident brakes making it an excellent all-round package.

Engine type: 1.5-litre 4-cylinder, turbocharged
Power: 113kW
Torque: 210Nm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Performance: 0-100km/h 7.5 seconds
Price: $29,990 at time of review