The Colt Cordia 1600GSL

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The other day a Colt Cordia three-door Hatchback arrived at Standard House for assessment, bearing in its back window the slogan “Move up to a Colt”. As the Alfa-6 which I had been using as Editorial transport had just refused to start, had a loose camshaft-drive belt that sounded as if it would come adrift at any moment, and the driver’s electric window wouldn’t shut, this Mitsubishi advice seemed worth taking. However, as A.H. dealt with the Colt Starion 2000 Turbo, I will be brief about the smaller-engined, normally inducted Cordia, which was on Bridgestone RD — 108 Steel 165 R13 radial tyres.

Suffice it to say that it gave me very acceptable emergency transport and enabled me to sample the twin-set economy / performance gears which are a feature of some of the Colt range. Mitubishi ranks around fourth in volume of Japan’s motor manufacturers. The name Colt was adopted when its cars were first sold in Great Britain back in 1975, so successfully that all those on the London Motor Show stand the previous October were registered so that they could be driven away when the exhibition closed its doors. Since then Colts have become well-established here, with an expanding spares and service department at Swindon and an equally expanding headquarters at Cirencester. In 1979 Colt sponsored the Grand National, becoming the biggest financial supporters of National Hunt Racing in this country. Personally, I was more excited by the horses that gave a highly potent performance to the Colt Lancer Turbo…

So how did the Cordia impress? It was the one with manually operated windows and steering, and a radio but no stereo, so was priced at £7,150. Apart from the inherent inconvenience of a two-door body, but in this case with a rear hatchback and folding back seats, one seemed to sit rather low, and after the driver’s seat squab had been tilted to give back-seat access it did not always resume the rake I had been using. There is a front-hinged removable glass roof panel that is opened and closed with a big knob, set where it is not easily turned by the driver or front-seat occupant. The seat-belt catch was so close to the seat cushion as to be difficult to find, when wearing a coat. The door “keeps” are ineffective on anything but level ground.

Those mild criticisms apart, this Colt Cordia provided adequate comfort and convenience and was creditably appointed. The somewhat vague steering (four turns, lock-to-lock) is heavy for full-lock parking, light on the move, with very eager return castor action. The eight-speed gearbox, not counting reverse, gives the aforesaid choice of economy or brisker motoring. The change from the high to low sets of gears is made with a second lever, to the right of the normal gear lever, and is simplicity to use, even on the move, if the clutch is fully depressed. The instruction book recommends normally using the high set of ratios (the difference in engine speed between high and low top is roughly 700 rpm, much as with an overdrive), which I did for most of the test period, although this entails using the lower gears freely, and dropping into third from about 30 mph downwards. A check showed this to benefit materially fuel economy from the 11-gallon tank, as the consumption under conditions not conducive to economy was roughly 40 mpg; the overall figure in this high set of gears was an excellent 38.1 mpg, of 90 to 94 octane rating petrol, what’s more.

In the low set of cogs performance is about what one would expect from a medium-size front-drive, saloon with a 1,597 cc engine. Instrumentation is clear-reading, with heat, fuel, battery and oil-pressure gauges flanking the speedometer / tachometer, and a panel between them containing nine warning lights. The digital clock immediately before the front-seat passenger is particularly easy for the driver to read at all times, and beside him are the expected Japanese trigger releases for fuel-filler flap and hatchback. There are many useful stowages, but none lockable. Detail work, of door handles, locks, twin stalk controls, under-bonnet accessibility, adjustable external mirrors, etc, is up to Japanese standards. The brakes are effective, if faintly squeaky and losing servo action alarmingly quickly if applied engine off. That’s about all I have been given space for, and as no Press-kit was provided, I am spared a recital of Cordia development and intentions — indeed, the car might have been uninsured, from the sparcity of paperwork (GWM to note!). Suffice it to say that the Cordia is a sound but unexciting family proposition, up to the standards we have come to expect from Mitsubishi-Colt cars. — W.B.

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