If you want to make a racing car immune to altitude sickness, electric motors – which rely on air for cooling only – are the perfect place to start. Mitsubishi Motors started with three of them, all mechanically identical to the one you’ll find in the production i-MiEV EV. One mounts in the nose, driving the front wheels, while the other two are squeezed into the space behind the cabin and drive the rears. And given a software refresh from their conservative production tune, each one spins to a maximum 11,000rpm and produces a peak 107bhp and 148lb ft of torque. They drive through reduction gearing of approximately 7:1.
The layout gives the i-MiEV Evo a default one-third/two-thirds torque split between the front and rear axles, which MMC considers ideal for a racing all-wheel-driver. But the rear motors are connected in parallel and drive a conventional mechanical limited-slip diff. MMC engineers admit that an independent motor for each rear wheel would have brought big benefits on asymmetrical torque vectoring, but they simply didn’t have time to develop such a system. Not for the car’s debut season, at any rate.
The power for those motors comes, via the same high-voltage power management inverters used on the standard i-MiEV, from 96 pairs of lithium ion battery cells housed on either side of the cockpit, in overgrown side pods, which provide 35kWh of stored direct current. They also account for a third of the weight of the entire car, so housing them inside the wheelbase, low to the ground, gives the i-MiEV Evolution a very low centre of gravity and a perfect 50/50 weight distribution.
The body of the car is a high-strength steel spaceframe – with a roof but no windows – on which panels of carbonfibre-reinforced plastic are fixed. Suspension is by double wishbones at both ends and consists of fully adjustable coil-overs.
Mitsubishi wouldn’t permit us to weigh the i-MiEV Evo. But the scrutineering form for the Pikes Peak records a figure, complete with driver Hiroshi Masuoka – who must account for little more than 60kg – of 1400kg exactly. Not as light as it looks, then. But considering the content, not a figure to be sniffed at, either.