Interesting? Yes. Intriguing? Yep. Itty bitty? Correct. Intelligent? Also correct. The 2012 “i” MiEV (Mitsubishi i zero emission, 100% electric vehicle) recently graced our driveway with its presence for several days. The fun, quirky, and extremely efficient four-passenger, five-door hatch-back consistently turned heads, whether we had it plugged in and charging at home, or were touring anywhere around town. With a top mile range of only 62 miles per charge, we planned out several city trips for the week’s duration while making sure we stayed close to home, or within an acceptable range of several charging stations in the Portland, OR area.
|Very narrow 145/65/15 front tires.|
|The i's gauges are easy to read.|
Something to note is the slight gap in the car’s response when initially taking off from a dead-stop. The EV rolls just a tiny bit backward, before it moves forward, making it feel odd. Once you get used to it though, it seems like a detail that could be overlooked.
|The i has oddly shaped wipers.|
The i feels less substantial than the Nissan Leaf in most regards. It is, of course, smaller, lighter, and less expensive. Acceleration isn’t quite as fast as the Leaf, either. It does, however, easily get up to freeway speeds, and will zoom along at 70+ if needed, but it’s much happier at 60 and below. The steering is responsive but the car feels floaty when driven more spiritedly, and at freeway speeds dips and imperfections in the roadway cause the i’s suspension to feel jittery and unsettled. But let’s remember: this isn’t a sports car.
|The i's navigation-equipped dashboard.|
A few important things to note: The gear shift isn’t illuminated. It was impossible to see what you were shifting the EV into unless you looked at the dashboard to see the tiny D, ECO, or B popping up on the digital display. Another thing to note: be prepared for a good amount of battery draw when using the AC or electric heater. The i’s heater works adequately after a few minutes, but I was a bit shocked to see how much the range was shortened and battery usage was lowered when using this feature; sometimes it was about 10 miles. That’s 1/6 of the entire range. However, the cloth driver’s seat is heated, and if used, the power doesn’t draw from the main batteries but draws from a separate, auxiliary battery. Smart.
|Using the Level 3 charging station at Portland State University's "Electric Avenue."|
|There's no denying the i's unique style, whether you like it or not.|