Over the years, Mitsubishi Motors actually had a lot more rally car and sports car models than one would think. Now mainly focusing on its SUVs, barely paying any attention to the Mirage hatchback or sedan, and keeping other models like pickup trucks (L200) and vans (Delica) overseas, there isn’t a whole lot else Mitsubishi Motors seems to be releasing. The rebadged Renault Clio is actually going to be the first new addition to the Mitsubishi Motors lineup – and here we thought Mitsubishi would be releasing its own new vehicle for the C/D segment. Nope. Along with the Mitsubishi Galant AMG, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Mitsubishi Starion 4WD, and the Lancer Evolution, there is one other sports car that’s easy to forget – the Colt.
1962 – 1971
A nameplate that’s been used everywhere, and not just on Mitsubishi Motors models, the “Colt” first started as a line of small cars sold in Japan, produced by Shin Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (a sub-company of Mitsubishi before forming into just Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and focusing on large machines). This first rendition of the Colt, the Colt 600, only lasted three years, built as a two-door sedan with a rear-mounted air-cooled engine.
Succeeding this model were the Colt 800, Colt 1000, Colt 1100, Colt 1200, and Colt 1500. Just about each model replaced another, with the Colt 1500 becoming known as the Galant Colt. Then, the third Colt, a fastback (Colt 800) arrived in 1965 and took on a more traditional style with a front-engine, rear-wheel drive design, powered by an inline three-cylinder with three versions until late 1971.
1978 – 2002
Next came the joint venture between Chrysler and Mitsubishi Motors. Yes, the now Stellantis-owned automotive brand shook hands with Mitsubishi Motors, and Mitsubishi reintroduced a Mirage-based Colt in 1978, first overseas. A front-wheel drive hatchback, followed by a sedan model in 1982, the Mirage-based Colts had five generations spawn from it, with four of those sold in the states. Preceding the 1982 sedan, a front-wheel-drive rebadged Mitsubishi Mirage was sold by Chrysler in 1980 as the new Dodge Colt. Anyone remember that model? If not, the Plymouth Colt also came out around the same time (1983).
The Dodge Colt and the Plymouth Colt lasted on the market until 1994, even after the Mitsubishi Mirage entered the United States market in 1985. Like the Colt 1500 was responsible for the birth of the Galant, Mirage-based Colts are the ones that eventually turned into the Mitsubishi Lancer. Yeah, crazy! Multiple iterations continued until 1995, with the Lancer lasting quite some time. In 2002, Mitsubishi dusted off the Colt name and released the Colt Z30. This was the most successful Colt model for Mitsubishi in the North American market, lasting 11 years until 2013. Before its end, the Colt Z30 spawned multiple variants, the larger the Colt Plus in 2004, and the Colt MIEV electric car in 2006. Then, the name disappeared until just recently.
Set to launch next year (2023) is the rebadged Renault model for Mitsubishi Motors we’ve been hearing about. First hitting the European market to secure Mitsubishi a foothold overseas, the new Mitsubishi Colt is heavily based on the Renault Clio hybrid, using the CMF-B platform, one of the five platforms all Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) will be using on future models. If it’s just a simple rebadge, then we can expect Clio E-Tech to power this model, with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. Aside from some Mitsubishi styling tweaks reminiscent of the fifth-generation Clio, it seems that Mitsubishi doesn’t plan to take too many risks after having trouble in Europe and North America, until its recent new generation models, like the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander. Sounds like the Alliance might finally pay off for Mitsubishi Motors. Interested to see what happens next with the 2023 Mitsubishi Colt? You can always learn more when you follow us on Miami Lakes Mitsubishi social media.