FUNNY how the world works.

We flunk students for plagiarizing term papers.

We jail adults for forging checks.

But we applaud Chrysler Corp. for introducing the 1989 Plymouth ColtTurbo, which is no Plymouth at all.

The car, identical to the Mitsubishi Mirage Turbo also sold in thiscountry, is imported from Mitsubishi for Chrysler's small-car group. Theonly thing American about it is the nameplate -- ah, make that thename. The actual plate, or badge, is made in Japan.

Chrysler is up front about this fakery. Indeed, the company bragsabout it. The Colt, Chrysler says in its advertisements, "is all theJapanese you need to know."

Chrysler isn't the only car company putting its name on otherpeoples' stuff. Examples: Rolls-Royce uses General Motors automatictransmissions and air conditioners. Mitsubishi sells some cars inAmerica made by Hyundai in South Korea; and the popular Ford Probe ismade by Mazda in the United States.

Ah, what the heck. In this age of bottom-line living and zero-sumrelationships, the Mirage/Colt comes through where it counts: It works.

Complaints: The butter. Let me explain. A woman once set a splendidbreakfast table, admired by her guests. But her tyrannical husbandsurveyed the scene and picked out the one thing he considered wrong."Frieda," he sniffed, "the butter isn't melted."

Such are my complaints about the tested Mirage/Colt Turbo. The ridewas a little hard. The maroon-gray seatcover fabric was ugly.

Praise: Mitsubishi obviously invested lots of pride in theMirage/Colt Turbo. How else to explain the excellently aligned metalseams, the thorough paint job, and the craftsmanship evident even inplaces like the cargo area?

The 1989 Mirage/Colt Turbo is a discernibly different revision of the1988 model. It has cleaner exterior lines, a roomier interior, and awider rear track for better handling.

The car seats four adults comfortably.

People shopping for high-quality, front-wheel-drive subcompactsshould consider this one along with the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla,Volkswagen Fox and, yeah, the Ford Escort.

Head-turning quotient: Cute, but odd. It's a three-door hatchback carthat looks like the Honda Civic wagon.

Acceleration, braking and handling: The Mirage-Colt Turbo is poweredby a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder, fuel-injected, double overhead cam,16-valve, turbocharged engine rated 135 hp at 6,000 rpm -- 30 morehorsepower than the 1988 model. That's a pretty zippy engine for a carweighing 2,491 pounds.

Disc brakes -- vented in front, solid in rear -- are located atall four wheels. Stopping is easy. Handling is remarkably good for asubcompact car.

Sound system: Six-speaker, electronically tuned AM/FM stereo radioand cassette by Mitsubishi. Superior small-car sound.

Mileage: About 26 to the gallon (13.2-gallon tank, estimated 333-milerange on usable volume), combined city-highway, running mostly driveronly with air conditioner and other climate-control systems off.

Price: Base price is $11,357 (note that the Turbo is an upgrade ofthe Mirage/Colt GT, which starts at $8,620). Price as tested is $13,807,including $2,210 in options and a $240 destination charge. Estimateddealer's invoice price on car with options is $11,874.

Purse-strings-note: These prices are introductory and doubtless willchange. Shop both Mitsubishi and Plymouth dealers for best offer. Theirprices may be different, but their Turbo cars are the same.