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

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


Living With The Colt Cordia Turbo: Well Equipped

The level of equipment on the test car was indeed good, starting with the cloth seats featuring the word "TURBO" embossed into each backrest - the matching door trim and the carpeted floor; even the moulded facia has a less plastic look to it than is usual in a Japanese car. There is also a good quality radio, with push-button selection for one long wave, two medium wave and two FM stations, plus a stereo tape player, electric door- mounted rear view mirrors operated by a clever two-position four-way switch set, and a removable glass sunroof - all of which comes as standard on British specification cars.

The sunroof has a rather fiddly wind-up arrangement. It is opened by rotating a large turn- wheel; it takes five or six twiddles to raise the back of the sun roof an inch or so. However, it removes simply by depressing an unlocking lever and lifting it out of two securing slots at the front. It stows in the boot in a special plastic cover.

In the midst of this opulence is one niggling shortcoming, in the shape of the flimsy-feeling, stubby-knobbed window winding handles. They are positioned so flatly against the door trim, and the knob is so small, as to make opening and closing the window an awkward, laborious chore.

Oddment accommodation is not particularly good, with a shallow tray in the central console and a moderately-sized lockable glove compartment on the passenger side. There are also diminutive door bins, and cubby holes set into the body beside each rear seat.

Rear passenger space is reasonable under the circumstances. Legroom is restricted if the front seats are set fully back, but the rear seats are low-slung and the roofline fairly high above rear passengers' heads, so that it is quite feasible to transport two adults there without too much discomfort.

The luggage compartment is also fairly voluminous, and the Cordia has the added advantage of the normal hatchback facility of folding rear seats, to give near-estate-car-like accommodation. Left and right seat backs may be folded individually so that long loads and a rear passenger can be carried. The tailgate consists of little more than the rear window and surround. It is unlatched either by pulling a little lever beside the driver's seat (a second lever opens the petrol filler flap) or by using the key. Here's another little niggle - there is no handle on the tailgate. To lift it you have to slide a fingertip into the joint between tailgate and sill. That might be good for aerodynamics, but it plays hell with fingernails ....

Once the tailgate starts moving it lifts easily with gas strut assistance leaving a fairly high sill. Spare wheel, jack and a six-piece tool set are stored in a spacious well under the carpeted boot floor.

The luggage compartment cover is a rigid panel, which lifts on cords with the tailgate. It pivots separately from the rear seats, so has to be removed separately if necessary when the rear seats are folded.

The bonnet is not counterbalanced, and has to be manually propped. The engine compartment is neatly laid out, with the turbocharger tucked tidily across the front and around the right hand side of the block, remarkably small and unobtrusive. Maintenance items are all within easy reach.


The Colt Cordia Range

The Cordia is available in normally aspirated 1600 GSL form at 6,650 (7,020 with automatic transmission) or as the Turbo as tested at 7,750. The four-door saloon sister version, the Tredia, is available in three versions, 1400 GLX, at 5,500, 1600 GLS at 6,150 (6,520 with automatic) or Turbo at 7,500. Automatic transmission is not available on Turbo models.


How The Colt Cordia Turbo Compares

Maximum Speed (mph)   Acceleration 0-60mp/h (Seconds)   Overall Fuel Consumption (mpg)
1 Ford Escort XR3 113
2 Renault Gordini Turbo 112
3 Colt Cordia Turbo 111
4 Volkswagen Golf Gti 111
5 Opel Manta GT/J 107
6 Affasud 1.5 Sprint Veloce 105
1 Volkswagen Golf Gti 9.0
2 Colt Cordia Turbo 9.2
3 Ford Escort XR3 9.2
4 Renault Gordini Turbo 9.8
5 Affasud 1.5 Sprint Veloce 10.9
6 Opel Manta GT/J 11.0
1 Renault Gordini Turbo 30.1
2 Ford Escort XR3 27.9
3 Volkswagen Golf Gti 27.2
4 Alfasud 1.5 Sprint Veloce 25.7
5 Colt Cordia Turbo 25.2
6 Opel Manta GT/J 22.3

There aren't a lot of production 1600 turbocharged cars around, so it is difficult to find direct competitors for the Cordia. However, it is obviously aimed at the sports saloon/coupe market and as our tables show it compares pretty evenly in performance terms with such popular "street racers" as the Escort XR3, Golf GTi and Gordini Turbo. It seems somewhat expensive in this company, and price wise it competes with, for instance, BMW 320 (7,690, 111 mph, 9.8 sec 0-60 mph, 24.6 mpg) or Lancia 2000 HPE IE (7,691, 116 mph, 10.6 sec 0-60mph, 20.3 mpg) and almost with the muscular Capri 2.8i (8,125,127 mph, 7.9 sec 0-60 mph, 24.6 mpg). Certainly Colt boast that their Cordia's 1,597c.c. engine in turbocharged form compares well with many 2-litre competitors, and we have included the popular Manta GT/J to show just how well the Cordia does against such bigger rivals. However, the Manta is considerably less pricey.

Renault really seem to have got their act together in their Gordini Turbo, which appears to offer an almost unbeatable combination of performance and economy. This is supposed to be an advantage of turbocharging - so why is the Cordia not higher up the economy table? For one thing it is a little heavier than most of its 1600 c.c. competitors; for another it tends to be driven very foot-heavily whenever engine revs fall below about 3,5W - when the engine comes "off turbo" - to make up for the relatively poor response.


On The Road

As might be expected from cars of this type good handling is paramount, and in fact all of them are handling cars - although in some cases this has been achieved at the expense of ride quality. The Renault Gordini Turbo is a typical example - stiffening its suspension has given it a quite un-Renault-like firmness - in fact at times it is alarmingly bouncy. Ride has never been the XR3's strong point - it remains "busy" in spite of Ford's efforts to improve it - but it is hard to beat in terms of roadholding. The Golf GTi manages a much better compromise, with a remarkably absorbent ride considering its stiffly sprung design. The rear-drive Manta is in a different class in terms of roadholding, and is very competent, though it disappoints for the low geared steering yet heaviness at low speeds.

Somehow none of the cars approaches the Alfa in terms of sheer driving entertainment. In this company the Cordia Turbo rates fairly well. The ride is firm and somewhat fidgety but not to an unsettling extent, the steering is precise and nicely weighted and cornering is pleasantly neutral. As for that high-low ratio gearbox it could be argued that it offers agood selection of ratios so that the engine can be kept on turbo boost at all speeds; it could also be argued that it's nothing more than a gimmick. Either way, it's there if you want it, ignore it if you don't.

The sports saloons obviously boast more interior space than the coupes, and it should be borne in mind that the Gordini Turbo is a supermini and therefore smaller overall than others in this comparison. The Renault has the added disadvantage of cramped boot space because the spare wheel cannot, as in the normally aspirated car, be stored under the bonnet.

The Manta fares badly here, although rear passenger living space is not as restricted as the simple legroom measurement suggests; it also lacks a hatchback facility. Under the circumstances the Alfasud and the Colt offer quite acceptable rear accommodation for two adults in reasonable comfort.



The Golf GTi is on the way to becoming a "cult car" and the Escort XR3 is trying hard to achieve the same sort of distinction. Both are eminently, practical cars, the natural choice of a sports-car-minded family man. The others have more specialised appeal; the Manta is ageing in concept, but still has image, the less practical Gordini is more of a "boy racer" and the Affasud has that near unsurpassable level of refinement.

Yet the Cordia, too, impresses as a competent package, enjoyable to drive fast and comfortably equipped, spacious enough to be practical for a young family. But it is costlier than many of its rivals, and one must wonder whether the performance (or image) gained from the turbocharger warrants the extra expense.


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

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