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UK Autotest - Colt Cordia Turbo (Page 2 of 3)

Article from UK Autocar Magazine dating back to 30 October 1982. Article supplied by Derk Henderson


Economy: Paying For Performance

Overall consumption worked out at 25.2 mpg, not as good as many sporting 1600s, but not that bad considering how hard the Cordia must be driven to get the most entertaining performance out of it.


Less demanding driving does mean more acceptable consumption; for instance one 250-mile session consisting almost entirely of 70 mph motorway cruising in the 22.8 mph/1,000 rpm high top gear - at an unfussed 3,000 rpm - returned 29.2 mpg. However, the Cordia Turbo cries out to be driven enthusiastically, and other interim mpg figures ranged from 26.8 to as low as 20.2 mpg.

The theory that turbo charging offers performance plus improved economy is proved in our constant speed consumption figures, which reveal that 35.8 mpg should be attainable at 70 mph, and nearly 60 mpg at 30 mph. This car, more than many, illustrates how far the ideal of theory can sometimes be from the stark reality of practice.


Noise: Wind and Whine

Actually, engine noise is most predominant, but in a rather pleasant way bearing in mind the car's sporting image, and the whine of the turbocharger is in fact heard only occasionally, such as when engine revs die during gear change. Wind noise is also fairly obtrusive, originating mainly from around the front pillars and the door-mounted rear view mirrors. Wind hiss also increases considerably when the sunroof is opened, but it never reaches an uncomfortable level. It is quite possible to hold a moderately-pitched conversation or listen to the radio/tape player with the volume acceptably below distorting levels while cruising at 70mph with the sunroof removed. There is some road noise, as might be expected with the fairly firm suspension, with quite a lot of thump transmitted into the passenger compartment when running over bumpy or jointed surfaces. Overall noise is fairly well subdued, so that long distance highway cruising can be quite relaxing.


Road Behaviour: Well Mannered

The rack and pinion steering is light and nicely weighted. It is averagely geared at 3.5 turns from lock to lock, and is fingertip-light at speed; the 34ft 7in. mean turning circle is not really good for such a compact car, calling for lots of wheel twiddling in tight conditions, but fortunately the steering is not particularly heavy at parking speeds. The Cordia can be placed accurately through bends, and while kickback from rough surfaces is well controlled there is still sufficient feel for the driver to know exactly what the front wheels are doing.

Cornering at speed is almost unexpectedly neutral, considering the rather front-heavy weight distribution. Tyre squeal warns of the approach of the limit of adhesion, after which the car widens its cornering angle gently and progressively as a little understeer builds up. Closing the throttle sharply in a fast corner results in a fairly marked switch to oversteer, but this is easy to catch and correct. There is very little roll and it takes a lot of provocation to make the Michelin XVS tyres lose their grip.

The car feels sturdily stable at speed, and is little affected by cross winds. Good handling has been obtained at some expense in terms of ride comfort the ride is firm, as you would expect in a car with such a sporty nature, becoming a little restless and fidgety over coarse or bumpy surfaces. However, such sharp bumps and thumps are well isolated from the passenger compartment; longer undulations are not so well damped, resulting in fairly sharp vertical movement, but not to an unsettling or uncomfortable degree.

The Cordia Turbo uses ventilated disc brakes in front, but retains drum brakes at the rear. In practice the brakes are light and pleasantly progressive, allowing confident fast cross-country driving. A moderate 10lb pedal pressure is sufficient for check braking, a heftier 50lb tramp being required for a best stop of 0.92g before the front wheels lock.

The test car made fairly heavy weather of our deliberately severe brake fade test, which consists of 10 consecutive 0.5g

stops from the car's quarter mile speed, in this case 80 mph. Pedal pressures from the first few stops did not rise above 32 lb, but by the ninth stop had risen sharply to 80 lb before recovering and easing back to 40 lb on the final stop. This pattern of pedal pressures is not in itself unusual, but the last five stops were accompanied by clouds of smoke, increased shuddering and a sponginess which lasted for some time after the test.

The handbrake gave an acceptable 0.32g retardation, and held the car securely facing up and down our 1-in-3 test hill.


Behind the wheel: Competent

It's easy to get comfortable in the driver's seat, which has just enough rearward adjustment to fit a six-footer and is well placed in relationship to the steering wheel and the pedals. The cushion is firm but comfortable and the backrest, although having stepped rather than infinitely variable rake adjustment, provides good lateral support. There is also variable lumbar support, although on the test car this did not seem to vary very much, and some testers found the lumbar support a little too "sharp". The pedals are well spaced, and the brake and accelerator are fairly well positioned for heel- and-toe work. Suiting the car's sporting character, there is a neat rest for the left foot up against the transmission housing. The gear levers - both of them fall easily to hand and the column-mounted stalk switches are within fingertip reach. Other switches, such as adjustment for the electric door-mounted rear view mirrors, rear window heater and rear fog lamp, are positioned on the facia and require more of a stretch. The bonnet release lever is clearly marked and easy to get at below the facia to the right. The main instruments, 140 mph speedometer on the left and matching rev counter on the right, are easy to read in daylight with their bright orange numbers on black ground, but are less clear at night; thankfully this model has been spared the digital readouts seen on Japanese market cars earlier in the year. Between these dials is a panel of large warning lamps; smaller dials, for fuel level, battery volts, oil pressure and water temperature are positioned in the corners of the instrument panel, and are partly obscured by the steering wheel rim. A driver would have to get used to making a conscious head movement to keep a check on them.

The stalk switches. follow the more correct for right-hand drive pattern with the windscreen wash/wipe (two-speed plus intermittent plus flick-wipe) on the left and headlamps, dipswitch and indicators on the right. In the Cordia the entire steering wheel centre crash pad and about a third of each crossbar form the horn press - you can hit the centre in an emergency, or reach the crossbar with a thumb, without taking fingers from the wheel, for a more leisurely warning toot. Visibility is good for a coupe thanks to the fairly high rear roofline and the consequently fairly large rear window. Although head restraints are fitted to the front seats, they have been kept fairly small and therefore do not interfere seriously with rearward vision. Although side pillars are quite thick, only the B-post - which incorporates an interesting ventilating outlet for rear passengers - obstructs vision to a noticeable degree. The wipers leave a fairly large area of glass unswept in the upper left corner of the windscreen, but more importantly a tendency for the wipers to lift off the screen at anything over 60 mph, which we noticed in cars driven at the time of the Japanese launch, has been overcome by the fitting of a plastic deflector on the driver's side wiper, which on the test car remained firmly in contact right up to 110 mph.

The headlamps proved adequate at traffic speeds, although the cut-off on dip was rather too sharp; we wonder if more powerful lamps, with a more moderate cut-off, might not be more desirable considering the car's performance potential.

The air blending heater is efficient, delivering lots of warm air on request, and it has a fairly sensitive temperature control. The heater's controls allow air to be directed at face level, or into the foot wells, or bi-level; there is a separate, position for demist, and another to split warm air between demist and face level, presumably to keep the ears warm in deepest winter. It is also possible to achieve a flow of warm air into the foot wells and cool exterior air to the face through the four facia vents, but the cool air flow is dependent on ram flow and dies away in stop-start traffic. Rear seat passengers can obtain an independent supply of cool air by opening ram-fed vents built into the B-posts. The fan has four speeds, and is commendably quiet at all settings.


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Related Pages: Cordia Specifications, Interior Details, Handling Characteristics & Performance Modifications

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