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RETRO DRIVE: Mitsubushi Colt 2.8TDi

8 May 2017

The new Mitsubishi Triton is finally here. For many, the long wait has been worth it and they’re already standing in the Triton queue, mostly because of the solid reputation of it’s predecessor: the unassuming Colt. This month we take a closer look at it.

The ‘Colt’ moniker has been around for a while. It has been pasted on a variety of Mitsubishi vehicles throughout the years, including hatchbacks, sedans and station wagons. But, here on local soil, the Colt was always just a bakkie. The Colt Rodeo was introduced in South Africa in 1997. The original, box-shaped Colt double cab was only available with a three-litre V6 petrol engine that delivered 109kW and 234Nm of torque; – rather underwhelming by today’s standards. It was tough, reliable and had some real 4×4 skills. At the time, it sold for R138 500, and it was sold through the Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) dealer network (which obviously also had a favourable influence on its reputation).

By the end of the following year, the next generation Colt went on sale. It was manufactured in East London in an MBSA factory. More modern-looking than its predecessor, the Colt double cab’s cabin was a fancy, upmarket affair. Initially only a three-litre V6 petrol was on sale, and the engine delivered a more handy 133kW and 255Nm.  The range was expanded to include a 2.4-litre petrol single cab 4×4. But the Colt’s man-on-the-street appeal took a turn for the better when the 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel was introduced shortly afterwards. Although the 133kW V6 was obviously powerful and refined, it also liked the drink a lot. So the more economical 2.8Tdi was the answer to many Colt fans’ dreams. The cab-and-a-half ClubCab proved very popular, too, and it pioneered this now very popular segment in the bakkie market.

Compared to today’s powerful turbodiesel mills in the double cab segment, the Colt’s Tdi motor seems rather inadequate. It produced 92kW at 4 000r/min and 294Nm at 2 000r/min, yet it was sur-prisingly brisk on the road, coupled to reasonable fuel consumption. Thousands of Colt Tdi’s were sold, and most of them still run today. Take Johannesburg-based Patrick Kennedy’s Colt, for instance. He bought his 2003 model eight years ago for R100 000, and it serves as his daily runner and weekend off-road toy. Patrick is also part of the South African Colt Club; the Colt still has plenty of fans here in Africa.  Patrick has, over the years, added a few extras. These include replacement bumpers on the front and rear, designed and built by Weca Off-Road, as well as a tailor-made roll-bar he designed according to his bundu-bashing requirements, a Tonneau King lockable cover for the ‘bak’ and an aftermarket reverse camera, to name but a few additions.

This Colt has done more than 400 000km and many of those kilometres were in the bush, or some twee-spoor track in the middle of nowhere. It hasn’t achieved that mileage without some pains. The four-cylinder engine has been completely overhauled and more recently, the radiator decided to throw in the towel. Not that Kennedy minds these small little hiccups one bit. He says he will never, ever sell the Mitsubishi.  To its owners and fans, the hardy Colt is a legend in its own time.

Mitsubishi Colt 2.8Tdi double cab 4×4
Country of manufacture South Africa
Years available 1998–2008
Engine 2 835cc four-cylinder turbodiesel
Power 92kW @ 4 000r/min
Torque 292Nm @ 2 000r/min
Gearbox Five-speed manual (with transfer case)