Mitsubishi is having a moment, and for once, it’s actually a good one. While it’d probably be too strong to label it a “renaissance,” the new Outlander has made the three-diamond badge a respectable choice for the first time in two decades. But the Outlander is still an SUV, and Mitsubishi’s golden era was associated with vaguely sporty passenger cars. Clearly, there’s still work to do.
The automaker’s next move is to revive the Colt — a subcompact that’s been out of commission since 2013 — as a badge-engineered electrified Renault Clio. And that’s actually not a terrible idea. Mitsubishi needs a spark of novelty wherever it can get it these days. If it happens to come from one or both of its Renault-Nissan Alliance partners, so be it.
Mitsubishi released a teaser of the new Colt on Tuesday. It’s shadowy as you’d expect, all to draw attention to the brand’s new corporate face. Amongst the scores of mugs in the auto industry, I reckon this one’s pretty good. It’s unique enough, and, in carving out an empty space in the center for the badge, refreshingly accepts the reality that functional grilles aren’t necessary anymore.
The new Colt will quite literally be a Clio or a Nissan Micra under the skin — two other upcoming Alliance cars built on the CMF-B platform. As disappointing as that will sound to those who pine for the brand’s high-flying rally days, this is kind of the best possible outcome for Mitsubishi. It obviously doesn’t have the resources to make things itself anymore, but Nissan and Renault have made plenty of progress across their portfolios in recent years — especially Nissan.
This will be a net gain for a brand with a vacant identity like Mitsubishi, sort of like when GM started importing Opels as Buicks a decade ago. A Clio-based Colt may also provide the perfect platform for a warmed-up Ralli Art version, if Mitsubishi is actually honest about its vision for that name. The new Colt is due in 2023, around which time the brand will also launch a Renault Captur-based ASX small crossover.