Autocar’s timing gear pretty well doubled the complexity of the i-MiEV Evolution’s functional cockpit. There’s a racing bucket seat, a fire extinguisher, two pedals, a handbrake and a steering wheel. And besides an instrument binnacle from a production i-MiEV, there’s little else.
Getting in is one of those processes that spry Japanese men make look deceptively easy, like eating a whole steak and rice pudding with chopsticks. For the heroically proportioned, it’s tricky. A step helps. As does a five-man support crew.
There is no door, but you can pick either side to start from, before lowering a leg on to the seat, bracing yourself against the spaceframe, hitching the other leg over and then threading your torso sideways and down. The detachable steering wheel makes this a little easier, but only in as much as The Times crossword is made easier by possession of a pen.
Once in, you realise how low the solitary seat is, and how high the scuttle (which doubles as a spoiler to compensate for the lack of windscreen). Barring the highest extremities of the front wheel arches, you can’t see any point of the front of the car. Legroom is modest – particularly for a 6ft 4in tester. Padded knee rests are provided to keep you comfy when pulling high lateral forces through corners.
Want a boot? Of course you don’t. You’ll be more grateful for MMC’s traditional hand-painted Japanese luck charm dangling behind the driver’s seat.
The ignition is engaged via an old-fashioned key and starter button, the transmission via a rotary knob.