The Road Ahead : June July 2007
50 JUN/JLY 07 It's déjà vu on ergonomics, with Polo on top. The main point of contention is its speedo markings, while 207's tight footwell and slightly less intuitive controls relegate it to second. Both Colt and Swift only offer height-adjustable steering, although Swift's superior layout and seat adjustability give it an edge. Don't assume the extra doors in Colt and Swift seal the deal on practicality. That's cer tainly the case if children are a factor, however both lack a full-size spare wheel. Again Polo and 207 are at the pointy end on practicality, although neither is per fect. Colt edges out Swift on the spare tyre issue, but the four seats and poorly placed child restraint points are negatives for the Mitsubishi. On the road First and foremost, there's some 'go' to accompany the show. Even the small-capacity Swift punches out respectable per formance figures, while the others can be rapid. It's no task keeping the little 'uns on the boil either, with light clutch and gearbox combinations, the most effective and rewarding in Polo. Despite its frugal nature, the standout sprinter is Colt Ralliar t. Although a little flat at low revs, when the turbo gets involved around 3000 rpm, its willingness is remarkable. The light body helps and the gear ratios always seem appropriate for a mid-corner surge. Not to be outdone is Polo, its tried-and-true engine finding favour among a younger generation. Relaxed at highway speeds and more consistent across the rev range, it matches Colt in most measures. It's much the same stor y in 207 GT, with its flexible engine, mid-range pick-up and deceptive pace. The gearbox, though, is not as precise, while weight saps its per formance. Lacking a turbo, the lighter Swift is outgunned on per formance. The engine revs well and saves its best for the top end, but lacks torque. It also needs a sixth gear to lower revs at highway speeds. Swift doesn't live up to its name but rallies in the handling stakes. This enter taining Suzuki grips well, of fers meaty and faithful steering and corners with aplomb. Polo never falters on handling either, with nicely weighted steering and feedback, an ability to change direction cleanly and excellent balance. Better grip levels would allow it to dominate. Colt and 207 possess amazing grip levels and positive cornering characteristics but steering could be better. The Europeans make a mocker y of typically firm hot-hatch suspension tunes. Both Polo and 207 absorb bumps well, albeit with a thump over sharp edges, and offer disciplined damping. Colt jitters on lumpy roads and is harsh at low speeds, while the Swift is stiff, has limited travel in its suspension and is prone to transmitting road imper fections at low speeds. The brakes in all four cars are positive under provocation, although the soft Peugeot pedal is not reassuring. Noise levels range from subdued in the 207 and Polo, to vocal in the Colt and Swift, especially as the revs rise. Conclusion Akin to any other spor ts car in the twists, these mighty mites offer plenty of safety gear and most of the abilities of larger counterpar ts, yet are cheaper, easier to drive around town and consume less high-grade fuel. We like Colt Ralliart's rawness, grippy front seats, capable chassis and power ful thrust. Other highlights include fuel efficiency and the long warranty. To improve its cause though, it needs extra features, substance to back up its daring design and more faithful steering. Swift Spor t's price, handling and consistency are admirable traits. This is a car cr ying out for a stronger engine. Overall, it lacks an edge to extinguish the brighter lights, but is an affordable proposition. At the other end of the price scale is the wee 207 GT. The highly kitted-out and superbly safe 207 struggles on price and ongoing costs, but has few major flaws. On the whole, it is a wor thy three-door, just not a truly inspiring one to drive. There is a fair ytale ending after all. Polo GTI is not too hot, not too cold, but just right. It proves too fond of fuel, but this gratifying German is a giant among the gnats. WHAT THE STARS SAY Peugeot VW Mitsubishi Suzuki 207 Polo Colt Swift GT GTI Ralliart Sport Price Equipment Running & repair costs Fuel economy Safety Space/practicality Build Performance Ride Handling Conclusion Both the 207 and Colt have outstanding grip.
April May 2007
August September 2007