Mitsubishi i MiEV review (2009 onwards) MSN Cars UK

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Mitsubishi i MiEV

Mitsubishi i MiEV review (2009 onwards)

What — Mitsubishi i MiEV

Where — Oxford, UK

Price — TBC

Available — Summer 2009

Key rivals — Honda Insight, Toyota Prius, Smart ED, G-Wiz

Mitsubishi seizes the initiative with an all-electric version of its distinctive i city car

Image © Mitsubishi

Click images to enlarge

Think four-seat Smart car and you’ve got an idea of what Mitsubishi’s i is all about. Surprisingly spacious, frugal and packed with fascinating engineering it’s been a surprise success here in the UK, with the full allocation of cars selling out in a very short space of time.

As it stands the i is already a pretty green car. But this new all-electric version — known as the i MiEV — takes its eco credentials to a whole new level and, unlike previous electric cars, boasts major manufacturer credibility and all the advantages that come from being based on an existing, crash-tested and certified car.

The distinctive cab-forward body is as eye catching as it ever was, the narrow body making it appear deceptively long — it’s actually a tad shorter than a Toyota Aygo and a whole 84mm skinnier than a Smart ForTwo. Inside there’s space for four while a decent 246-litre boot is bigger than that of a Fiat Panda.

So it’s cleverly packaged and futuristic to look at, the latter entirely appropriate for an electrically powered car. Like it or not, this is the way things are going whether the power comes from fuel cells, the mains socket or some other source. So what’s it like to drive?

Mitsubishi i MiEV

With 64hp the electric i actually outguns its petrol-powered cousin. But it’s the torque that’s even more impressive, the i MiEV’s 133lb ft dwarfing the conventional car’s 62lb ft. What’s more, being an electric motor this peak torque is available instantly, helping to offset the fact the i MiEV is hauling around a 200kg battery pack.

Instant power like this would obviously make the i MiEV very jerky to drive, were it not for the very well modulated throttle response. Indeed, the linear power delivery takes no getting used to at all and the only weird thing is the total lack of engine noise.

0-62mph in around 13 seconds is comparable with the petrol version but by the seat of your pants the i MiEV feels considerably faster, thanks to the huge amounts of torque available. It’s perfectly quick enough to keep up in cut and thrust city driving and with a top speed of over 80mph it’ll cope with motorways too.

This isn’t the i MiEV’s natural habitat though, the nominal 100-mile range taking a big hit if you’re hammering along at high speed. For town driving and typical commutes it’s perfect though, the gearbox offering an eco mode that cuts engine power to 24hp to boost range, limiting performance but still adequate for driving up to 30mph or so.

At street level the i MiEV is a genuine zero emissions vehicle. But of course that electricity doesn’t come out of nowhere and, though it may be miles away, there’s a power station smoke stack pumping out pollution into the atmosphere somewhere. So there is an environmental cost to driving the i MiEV.

Practical, fast enough and funky, the i MiEV has a lot going for it. So it’s perfect, right? Not quite. The short range is suited to urban trips only. Then there’s the price; £25,000 or thereabouts.

It’s still a fine achievement, though.

Mitsubishi i MiEV

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