It's amazing what advertising can do for a car's image. Take our Mitsubishi Colt, for example. When we got the keys to the 1.5-litre DI-D Equippe last October, it was a rare sight on UK roads, and few people knew what it was. Since then, a high-profile TV publicity campaign has kicked in, featuring Colt cars playing football. Love it or hate it, people remember the advert - and you can see the recognition on their faces when they spot the baby hatch.
It's amazing what advertising can do for a car's image. Take our Mitsubishi Colt, for example. When we got the keys to the 1.5-litre DI-D Equippe last October, it was a rare sight on UK roads, and few people knew what it was. Since then, a high-profile TV publicity campaign has kicked in, featuring Colt cars playing football. Love it or hate it, people remember the advert - and you can see the recognition on their faces when they spot the baby hatch. Regardless of its capabilities on the pitch, the Mitsubishi has risen to a number of challenges over the past few months. During the week, it's been subjected to commuting to and from the centre of London, rarely travelling faster than walking pace. At the weekends, however, it's been pressed into service for regular cross-country trips of 200 miles or more. And despite its size and modest engine, the Colt has coped admirably. Indeed, the 1.5-litre diesel motor is one of the best features. With only three cylinders rather than the usual four, it has an interestingly eager thrum, delivering healthy performance: a torque output of 210Nm from as low as 1,800rpm gives excellent acceleration. The car can get a little noisy on the motorway, but it returns great economy, achieving an average of 48mpg in our hands. The amount of space inside certainly adds to the comfort. There is headroom to spare, even with tall passengers, and good legroom, too. And the folding-seat arrangement, combined with that lofty bodyshape, makes the Colt ideal for carrying all sorts of loads. After some DIY, I had to take a stack of scrap wood to the tip, including one thick beam more than two metres long. It extended just a few centimetres beyond the hatch - but opening the glovebox provided room to fit it in. With more than 9,000 miles now piled on, the Colt still feels fresh. There is the odd creak from the rear seats, but otherwise the interior is wearing well, despite its busy life. The only complaints concern the driving position - which isn't ideal for all motorists, as there's no reach-adjustable steering wheel - and the large A-pillars, because they can hamper visibility at junctions. We had expected to complete a service as the car edged towards the 10,000-mile mark, but even the dealer wasn't sure about the maintenance intervals on the Colt. We learned it only needs attention every 12,000 miles, on a par with its petrol siblings. So while it might not have as much character as some more stylish rivals, our Mitsubishi Colt is proving capable at ferrying both people and luggage without complaint, while delivering good economy and reliability. For a private buyer, those strong qualities have plenty of appeal. Matt Joy Second Opinion When I stepped into the Colt for the first time, I just couldn't believe how roomy it was for a supermini. Sitting in the driver's seat and looking left, it seemed enormous. The adjustability of the chair is great - and, to make the most of the high roofline, you can pump the base up , which gives a great view of the road ahead. The combination of the funky, spacious interior and the excellent diesel engine makes the Mitsubishi a really entertaining small car to drive. Richard Yarrow, associate editor