A Vitz or a Colt? The Vitz will deliver the reliability that you are looking for

Wednesday April 10 2019

If it is reliability you want, then just buy the Vitz RS and call it a day. It is the safe, unimaginative choice for the risk-averse. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Hello JM

Thank you for your work advising motorists.

I am particularly interested in buying either a Vitz RS 1.5l Mt (2011 model) or the Colt Ralliart version R (2012 model or thereabout). The Colt is definitely sportier and faster. However, since I am still getting my financial footing, I am concerned about the reliability of the Colt considering the age.

Please advise me on the reliability of this Colt’s engine. My online search has not been very informative on reliability above seven years.



I am concerned about the reliability of the Colt considering the age. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Hello Samuel, 

When you are walking on thin ice, you might as well tap dance. The thing with performance cars, irrespective of stature — whether it is a V8 AMG or the teeny-weeny itsy-bitsy 1500cc fours in the hot hatches you mention — is that nobody buys them primarily for their reliability.

While rational car buyers count miles per gallon, the rest of us with brains addled by the harbingers of heady happiness that are hedonism and haste have haughtily hugged a different parameter count -- smiles per gallon. Reliability and fuel economy play second fiddle along with any other criteria one may choose to apply. The primary motivator is the car must make us happy first and foremost.

That being said, if it is reliability you want, then just buy the Vitz RS and call it a day. It is the safe, unimaginative choice for the risk-averse. It has the engine from a Corolla, but supercharged for the newer car, possibly.

In 2011, there was an overlap of Vitz models, so which one are we talking about? The XP90 or the latest XP130? How much performance are you ceding to the Colt anyway? I don’t really care and it doesn’t really matter, unless you intend to sort your street beefs using spec sheets and Wikipedia.

In actual driving, a supercharged chainsaw and a turbocharged dot matrix printer have only so much they can buzz at each other that is of interest to people like us who drive real cars. (I may be full of arrogance at the moment because I have recently been driving a 570hp AMG Mercedes and the hair on my chest just grew a little thicker.) I may be more civil next week when the adrenalin wears out from my bloodstream.

(Full disclosure: the braggadocio aside, the Colt Ralliart is a baby Evo that can take down more substantial vehicles with ease, to the surprise and embarrassment of the hitherto unwitting drivers. I insist I don’t really care what the brochures say but I have driven a first-generation Vitz RS, which is quick in its own way, and I have driven a Colt Ralliart, which is genuinely quick, period. Unless you supercharge the Vitz, your only hope lies in its lower C-of-G and compact dimensions to compensate in tight switchbacks; otherwise on more open roads, you are not catching up to a Colt Ralliart.)

Let us now talk about the Colt R’s engine. It is a 4G15T; which means it is a relative of the power plant that motivates the Lancer Evolution, but with slightly less trouser endowment as far as cubic inches go — about a pint less.

There is a turbo, there is an intercooler, there are double overhead camshafts from last week’s lecture and there is MIVEC — Mitsubishi’s version of variable valve timing. All this means there is plenty to go wrong; and sometimes it does, but mostly if you start fiddling with the engine under the guise of “tuning” and are not sure of what you are doing. Otherwise the engine seems pretty bulletproof for what it is and not much has been documented as problematic.

Here is a top tip: forget tuning the tall, narrow, torque-steering Colt and spend your money on a pukka Lancer Evolution instead. It may be a while before you feel like you need more power.


The Mazda Axela Sport wins on power. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Axela Sport is your best choice out of your options


I'm about to be a first car owner and I'm confused on which type of car to purchase. I'm looking for something that is easier to maintain in terms of service, fuel consumption and I'm also working on a low budget of Ks 800,000.

I'm torn between Toyota Auris, Mazda Axela Sport, Honda insight or Toyota Prius. I wouldn't mind a locally used car provided it's still in good shape. But I want a powerful machine that can serve me for quite some time.


None of these machines is powerful and in this day and age of planned obsolescence, do not expect immortality from them. The Auris and Axela Sport come close enough — but no cigar — to the two criteria, so you may have to choose between them. Sh800,000 may get you an old Auris at a stretch but it will also get you a newer Axela, so it seems the Axela may be the specking victor; however, Toyota's fame for longevity implies perhaps you are really better off in the Auris. The sporty Mazda wins again on power. So the Axela Sport it is.


The Nissan Patrol Y61 will rush wear the Navarra fears to tread

Hi JB,

Whispers helped men figure out first love through Thatcher. You help us figure our second loves.

I need your advice on the Nissan Patrol Single Cabin pickup. How similar or dissimilar is it from the 'heavy' Nissan Patrol review you did? I need to also benchmark it to similar options fit for town and farm that I have on my list and you've reviewed before.

There's few and shallow reviews of same on Internet so I am not sure if I am searching in the right engines, so to speak.

From a budget point of view, seeing that a new Toyota double cab is within similar price range, is it a worthy spending on a single cabin pickup compared to others in that class?



Hello CK,

The Patrol pickup — an Y61 derivative — is similar to the "heavy" one I reviewed in the following week, which is the Y62: they are both Nissans and they are both called Patrol. That's where the similarities end.

The Patrol pickup is dissimilar to the "heavy" one I reviewed in the following ways: one is a wagon, the other one is a pickup. One is petrol powered (a V8, no less), the other feeds off the black pump (I6 mill). They are both getting on in years but while one is middle-aged and stoically hanging on, the other is positively archaeological and can only be sold in Africa (Kenya and the RSA) because by now it would be illegal in most countries owing to evolved safety and emissions regulations it cannot meet. One is fast, smooth and comfortable; the other is slow, agricultural and if you don't opt for the TD42 engine (a potentially overheating 4.2 litre diesel), you will be saddled with the ticking time bomb that is the infamous ZD30 self-destructing 3.0 litre turbo. It seems all we get here is the ZD30 but not the TD42.

[According to the Nissan Kenya website, the Patrol pickup can also be had with the TB48, a 4.8 litre petrol straight six. Geez! What is fuel economy?]

I daresay it is rather unfair to compare the two Patrols: one is a commercial vehicle with leaf springs that we use to ferry anti-riot policemen and bags of maize, the other one was designed to specifically ferry well-moneyed oil sheikhs over sand dunes at high speeds in air-conditioned luxury.

So now, you don't need the Patrol pickup for town use; you could buy literally any other single-cab pickup and it would be more pertinent for that task — except, of course, the Landcruiser pickup which, like the Patrol, is woefully outdated but still enjoys celebrity status as transporter of antiriot police officers and bags of khat in the highly intractable Northern Frontier District. The farm is a whole other story, and this is where the Patrol and its nemesis would be more suited.

Both the Patrol and Landcruiser pickups, relics that they are, are very closely priced, and I do mean closely. The Patrol costs Ks 5.6 million. The Landcruiser is only five score bones and some change further down the street from that. I can only assume "the new Toyota double-cab" you are referring to is the Hilux since as I mentioned earlier, the Landcruiser is far from new. The Hilux double cab closest in price to the Patrol — and costs exactly the same as the Land cruiser single-cab- the Deluxe Standard which will cost you about Ks 5.7 million for the manual and Ks 5.9 million for the auto, both of which are parenthesised on either end by the manual Basic Standard in the lower reaches asking for Ks 4.6 million of your hard-earned and the Ks 7 million automatic High Spec at the upper end.

From your last statement, the Patrol pickup really is in a class of two: it and the Landcruiser, and yes, it leads that class in payload terms by a whopping 38kg (1060 for the LC versus 1098 for the Patrol). Now that you are cross-shopping it against a Hilux double-cab, let's dive right in. The Hilux is a more modern vehicle that offers better economy, better performance, better aerodynamics, more comfort and relative luxury, and improved handling. At 1115 kgs, its payload even trounces the Nissan's by 17 key-lows.

The Patrol in turn offers ruggedness and a choice of two engines, one of which suffers fearsome thirst (the 4.8) and the other will die if you don't reroute the EGR yourself (I have discussed this ZD30 engine and its biggest weakness in a previous article).

The question is: is the money worth the expenditure for a single-cab? We are talking about Ks 5.6 million here, give or take a few thousands and the first answer is no; more so given the age of the vehicle. For that money, you can get a more contemporary vehicle that may be easier to live with and most single cab pickups cost about half of what the Patrol's asking price is. The keyword here is "may", because new vehicles are almost needlessly complicated and can prove to be a financial headache when dust and water starts getting into nooks and crannies where they shouldn't. Thank God for warranties. The Y61 pickup is from another century, quite literally, and thus has the ruggedness and simplicity to rush in where Navaras fear to tread and come out the other side unscathed, but with two disclaimers: you either put up with the consumption of a gigantic gas engine or the time-bomb uncertainty of an under engineered diesel.