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Sharper Colt. Image by Lyndon McNeil.

Sharper Colt
We drive a prototype Walkinshaw Performance Colt Ralliart and give our input.

   



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| First Drive | Chipping Norton, England | Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart Walkinshaw Performance |

Mitsubishi wanted our input on some enhancements it's thinking about adding to its Colt Ralliart hot hatchback. The already enjoyable pocket rocket benefits from suspension modifications, but the performance isn't raised quite enough. Yet.

In the Metal

We're pretty familiar with the Colt Ralliart here at Car Enthusiast as we've got one running around on a long-term loan. That means we're in a good position to understand any changes Mitsubishi plans to make to the 147bhp machine. We weren't quite expecting the visual punch that greeted us at Walkinshaw Performance's Chipping Norton HQ though, the tweaked Ralliart Colts wearing red war-paint around the Evo-like front grille, a low body stripe and red door mirrors. It works best when against white, though the red stripe around the rear bumper does look a touch like those that people put on to stop folk from parking too close.

It's a slightly odd looker the Colt, but the visual enhancements added to the prototype cars do give it some added muscle.

What you get for your Money

In consultation with Walkinshaw Performance - a company that, among other things, fits independent rear suspension to the L200 pick-up - Mitsubishi is looking at an options pack to offer Colt Ralliart customers. It comes with some suspension modifications, the visual enhancements mentioned above and a new freer-breathing stainless steel exhaust system. For all of that Mitsubishi is looking at around a 2,000 premium on the circa 12-13k Colt Ralliart.

Driving it

Had we not just arrived at Walkinshaw Performance in a Colt Ralliart we might have found the differences tough to spot on the road. The chassis bods at Walkinshaw have used the existing suspension but finessed its settings, resulting in - they say - a system that brings a 24 percent improvement in ride and handling, and 10 percent improvement in comfort. Usually a lowered - here by 35mm - car won't provide more comfort, but the tweaked Ralliart seems to ride sharp ridges and ripples with less fuss, while the reduced body roll and pitch make a difference to cornering speeds on entry and exit. It's subtle, but there; sadly the suspension modifications do little to improve the initial dead feel to the steering.

While the suspension changes are an overall success, the exhaust replacement is less so. Although the new stainless steel system adds 5bhp to the standard Ralliart's 147bhp - along with a 3.7lb.ft increase in torque - the most obvious effect from the new pipe is additional noise. It's intrusive at times, becoming boomy at constant speeds, the slight increase in performance it brings not enough to forgive the loss of refinement.

Overall, the standard Ralliart is a fairly old-school feeling small fast car with decent muscular performance across its entire engine speed range thanks to turbocharging. That's part of the reason we like it, and it feels usefully brisk already. The chassis could cope with more though, the Colt Ralliart begging for some additional power from its 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit. For the 2,000 or so Mitsubishi would charge for a new enhanced model we'd want a rawer, more feisty Ralliart; one that more than just sometimes surprises with its performance but actually shocks.

Worth Noting

The changes that Mitsubishi are proposing are still being discussed; our collective call for more grunt - around 170-180bhp - certainly has not been ruled out by Mitsubishi. Also, some sort of naming structure following a recognised route like the 'FQ' Lancer Evo models would allow customers to better understand their hotter Colt Ralliarts - Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart Walkinshaw Performance being something of a mouthful when discussing your hot hatch preferences; Ralliart FQ 170 or 180 would sound so much better.

Summary

The prospect of a faster Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart is a tantalising one, the already lively little hatch certainly having a chassis that could deal with more power. We want a rawer, more intoxicating driving experience from the modifications on offer, a more aggressive power increase necessary before we'd recommend phoning your Mitsubishi dealer and pestering them for details. Encouragingly, Mitsubishi seems to think the Colt could use some more power too, which could see the firm turn the Colt Ralliart into a genuine stepping stone up the Japanese firm's performance ladder. Watch this space.

Kyle Fortune - 24 Jun 2009



  www.mitsubishi-cars.co.uk    - Mitsubishi road tests
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2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.

2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.



2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.
 

2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.
 

2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.
 

2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.
 

2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.
 

2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.
 

2009 Mitsubishi Colt Ralliart by Walkinshaw. Image by Lyndon McNeil.
 






 

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