The future, according to Mitsubishi.
Remember the days of all-wheel-drive VR4s, twin-turbo 3000GTs, and wild, rally-bred Evolution models? Those all helped define Mitsubishi’s identity years ago, but no more. The i-MiEV, which debuted stateside in 2012, is the company’s first step toward rolling its electrification scheme across its global portfolio. The i-MiEV is small, yet its cabin offers a surprising amount of room for four passengers. Apart from the eerie lack of engine noise, the i drives like most other subcompact hatchbacks. Its light steering and tiny frame are boons in urban gridlock; cruising at highway speeds produces more wind noise, a somewhat nervous ride quality, and a decrease in total range. Mitsubishi says the lithium-ion battery pack provides 85 miles of travel on a single charge. With a 120-volt supply, a full charge should take twenty-two hours. Upgrade to an optional 240-volt charger, and that time drops to six hours. A Level 3 connector for quick charging (an 80-percent charge takes only thirty minutes) is an option, but few such stations are installed across the country. With a pretax rebate MSRP of $29,000, the i-MiEV is one of the less-expensive EVs on the market, but the increased range and sophistication offered by other EVs — notably, the Nissan Leaf and the Ford Focus EV — might be worth a $6000-to-$7000 premium.
Ford Focus Electric
Honda Fit EV
new for 2013
The i is now available nationwide.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; stability and traction control; and tire-pressure monitoring are standard, as is a system that warns pedestrians of the vehicle’s movement.
No gas needed
Surprising interior space
Lengthy charge times
Skittish highway ride
Base price range: $29,975–$32,825
TRIM LEVELS: ES, SE
BODY STYLE: Coupe, 4-passenger
MOTOR: AC synchronous, 66 hp, 145 lb-ft; lithium-ion battery, 16 kWh, 330-volt
TRANSMISSION: 1 fixed reduction gear
PASSENGER VOLUME: 85.0 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: 13.0 cu ft