The name Colt threads through Mitsubishi’s model history, tweaking the noses of US carmakers who let the archetypal American weapon of choice slip away into Japanese hands. Slip it did, back in the 1960s when the tiny Colt 600 set about building Mitsubishi’s fortunes.
Various models in America and Australia used the Colt name in the 1980s and 1990s before Colt returned to its roots in 2003 with the launch of a slick supermini. The new Mitsubishi Colt came with a choice of engines ranging from 1.1 to 1.5 litres and in three- or five-door hatchback form.
In 2006 an eagerly awaited convertible version went on sale, after first showing its pretty face at the previous year’s Geneva Motor Show. In truth, this clever little car actually belongs to the emerging hybrid hardtop-convertible class.
Following the lead of many open-topped supercars, Mitsubishi’s 2+2 Colt CZC brings a retractable hardtop to the masses. Perhaps that advance is easy to understand – Mitsubishi developed the CZC with Italian design firm (and convertible specialist) Pininfarina.
The base 1.5 litre engine is offered with a zestful turbocharged version that gives this sexy little convertible added zip. It’s great fun to drive, being equally at home in city traffic or on winding country lanes, with crisp handling and great roadholding despite a little of the body shake that’s inevitable in small convertibles when the going gets rough.
With the top down, the CZC’s sloping bonnet and raked windscreen cunningly deflect onrushing air to the point where civilized conversation is possible and hair remains surprisingly unmussed. The 2+2 description is somewhat misleading – even little people struggle and a better description would be 2+somewhere-to-dump-the-shopping. It hardly matters – the Mitsubishi CZC is about having some frivolous driving fun, not ferrying the family.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
Japan (built in the Netherlands, finished in Italy)
1,468 cc Straight Four
Turbo version — top speed of 126 mph (203 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 8.1 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The Colt was closely related to the short-lived Smart Forfour (2004 to 2006) – which was the only conventional car Smart ever produced, with the Franco-German company cutting costs to the bone by working with Mitsubishi to share a platform and numerous components with the new Colt.