Mitsubishi Motors has unveiled its new subcompact Colt, which is the company’s first model in the increasingly popular subcompact segment in Japan.

Using the design theme of the CZ2 concept car, the distinctive new Colt claims to bring “spirit and a touch of sophistication to the subcompact segment” when it debuts in Japanese showrooms on November 16.

In 2004, a related family of compact Mitsubishis will also be introduced in Europe.

“The new face of Mitsubishi has arrived. The Colt represents a new direction for Mitsubishi Motors in terms of design and quality,” said MMC president & CEO Rolf Eckrodt.

The Colt’s platform, jointly developed with DaimlerChrysler, meets global safety standards and is claimed to provide outstanding driving performance.

“Our alliance with DaimlerChrysler made it possible to achieve the highest safety and quality levels,” Eckrodt added. referring to MMC’s Quality Gate system of stringent checks carried out during development and production.

The Colt is a key product in the three-year MMC turnaround and is the first new model to be introduced in Japan since the recently announced reorganisation of MMC’s domestic sales network. MMC plans to introduce around 15 new models to the Japanese market by 2007.

“Our turnaround is on track. We are ahead of schedule in reducing costs and optimising our process. And now we have an outstanding new product. The Colt will be the driving force of a sales-led growth in Japan,” said Eckrodt.

In this respect, the choice of the name 'Colt' was also a strong symbol, as it was the first name used by Mitsubishi Motors for a passenger car when the Colt 600 was launched in 1962. It has also been used on some export versions of the Galant and Mirage over the years and is also part of the name of the UK importer.

Known in Europe since the 1978 Colt, this name has not been used in Japan for several decades though, as the European Colt was named 'Mirage'in Japan and some Asia-Pacific markets.

MMC and DaimlerChrysler’s smart GmbH plan to use the Colt platform for a set of compact cars in Europe, each with its unique interior and exterior design. Both will be manufactured at the NedCar plant in the Netherlands, a 100% MMC owned unit.

MMC’s version - dubbed 'NCC' for 'New Compact Car'- will have an annual production of about 100,000 units.

Stefan Jacoby, president & CEO of Mitsubishi Motor Sales Europe B.V. said: "When launched in Europe, our NCC will be the symbol of Mitsubishi Motors European turnaround as well. It will be our product signature here with its contemporary design, inspiring dynamics, safe Japanese quality and innovative 'edge positioning'." “Together with a revamped organization and upgraded distribution system, NCC will be the key to our 300,000-plus unit mid-term target.”