Mitsubishi launched its next generation Colt for Europe today at the Paris show ahead of market launches starting later this month.

As with the outgoing model, all cars will be built at the automakers' NedCar plant in Born, Netherlands, with production starting this month.

After 267,000 sales and a conquest rate of 80%, "Mitsubishi Motors has wished to capitalise on this success and follow up with a grown-up - but still distinctive - product," the automaker said at the show.

Styling is more in line with the brand's latest identity (sharper new design and signature 'jet fighter' grille), market positioning (new Ralliart sporty models), latest market trends (low-emission 1.1 and 1.3 Clear Tec variants due on sale early next year), more consistent (less distinction between three- and five-door variants than before), and "more mature" (perceived quality, cargo flexibility, comfort features, NVH, driving dynamics), Mitsubishi said.

The new Colt is in a highly competitive sector here in Europe where a roster of new or updated competitors "tends to crowd a stable volume of 4,000,000+ units a year".

The Colt accounts for about 65,000 of Mitsubishi Europe sales of around 250,000 units a year and will be offered with 1.1- 1.3- and 1.5-litre engines as before.

The new Clear Tec versions will have a new low-CO2 package which includes automatic stop & go (AS&G) and regenerative braking, reducing CO2 emissions by about 10%. A dedicated flexfuel (FFV) variant will also be included in the Clear Tec line.

Mitsubishi said Colt Clear Tec models will be the B-segment low emission equivalents of its new C/D-segment Euro 5 diesel Lancer, with the automaker's new in-house-designed engine, set for launch next spring.

At the other end of the range, new Ralliart 150ps 1.5-litre turbo models have been added in both three- and five-door forms.

These build on the redesigned model's stronger structure with Ralliart suspension updated for sharper driving dynamics, including reduced body roll thanks to a thicker front stabiliser bar.

The Ralliart replaces the previous three-door-only CZT model and adds a five-door version expected to account for 40% of the sporty models' volume. This has slightly more compliant suspension than the three-door.

While European, Japanese and Korean rivals offer diesel engines in the B segment, MME reckons its 1.1-litre 75ps, 1.3-litre 95ps and 1.5-litre 109ps petrol engines plus the upcoming low-emission variants will be sufficient.

"The combination of the feasibility to upgrade the previous 1.5 engine to clear Euro 5 [emissions compliance], the rather low volume of diesel Colts sold since 2004 (only 13% of the mix) and the ever increasing retail price of diesel fuel eating away most of the cost benefits to the customer, all led Mitsubishi Motors to the decision to drop diesel power altogether from the next generation Colt range," the automaker said.

The low-CO2 Clear Tec engines will go on sale in spring 2009.