From £28,499
The UK’s first electric four-seater offers zero-emissions fun with a clean conscience

Our Verdict

Mitsubishi iMiEV
Four seats, four doors and a narrow body means the i-MiEV is ideal for city streets

The Mitsubishi i-Miev is a useful electric city car with four doors and four seats

  • First Drive

    Mitsubishi i-MiEV

    The UK’s first electric four-seater offers zero-emissions fun with a clean conscience
  • First Drive

    Mitsubishi iCar

    Funky, clever addition to city car market, but out-of-town dynamics let it down

What is it?

This is the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, an electric version of the Mitsubishi i city car. The Mitsubishi i is popular in Japan and in a more limited way in the UK, where it has been on sale since July 2007. The company’s original UK allocation of 300 petrol-powered examples sold out within three weeks of going on sale.

In layman’s terms, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is an all-electric version of the i four-seater, with the combustion engine and fuel tank replaced by a 63bhp electric motor and a large battery pack.

What’s it like?

In stop-start traffic in villages and towns, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV excels. It pulls away smoothly, whether in standard mode or the more economical ‘Eco’ setting, which limits the motor’s output to 18kW. A small amount of creep makes low-speed manoeuvres surprisingly easy.

Mitsubishi quotes a range of 80-100 miles if the i-MiEV is driven economically. It’s easy to imagine commuting to work or doing the school run in this car. The company says that if you plug the i-MiEV into the mains, it will charge fully in seven hours. This drops to 30 minutes if you have access to a 50kW three-phase supply.

Unsurprisingly, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is no sports car, but over a winding 15-mile cross-country route it proved fun to drive and as able to keep up with the traffic as its petrol sibling.

The instant response from the electric motor and rear-wheel drive combine to provide a level of adjustability in corners that is missing from the i-MiEV’s front-wheel-drive turbodiesel competitors.

Despite the 200kg of batteries where the fuel tank used to be (actually mounted 80mm lower), the i-MiEV does not feel bloated, with well-controlled body roll in corners.

Should I buy one?

If you are looking for a zero-emissions four-seat city car, the i-MiEV is your only option. Fortunately the i-MiEV is a polished, if quirky, performer. Even if you’re considering a conventional city car, the i-MiEV is at least worth a look, provided you don’t need to travel further than 100 miles at a time.

Around 2000 i-MiEVs are planned for the first year of production, and Mitsubishi hopes to bring around 200 of these to the UK.

Ed Keohane

Join the debate

Comments
9

16 December 2008

What's the recharge time?

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

16 December 2008

Price as tested - £15,000 !!!!

It'd certainly make me think twice about paying £8000 for a Fiesta or £7000 for a Corsa, both of which can travel over 80 miles between meals.

The only market for this car lies with rich eccentrics.

Next...

Anonymous

16 December 2008

Mitsubishi say that it will charge fully from a standard domestic 240V supply in 7 hours. It can also charge in 30 minutes from a 50kW three-phase power supply.

16 December 2008

Well good for Mitsubishi a decent electric car from a respected manufacturer. Presumably other companies which survive will begin to catch up and prices will come down. I wont be buying one just yet because I can still use a pedal bike for such short trips but I could see it filling the gap before I'm reduced to a pavement electric scooter!

17 December 2008

Please stop saying that electric cars are zero emissions. They may be when they are being driven, but they and their batteries have to be made, just like any other car, and where do you think the electricity comes from? Do owners realise how much a new battery will cost, and who will pay for disposing of the old one?

Lanciaman

17 December 2008

[quote Lanciaman]

Please stop saying that electric cars are zero emissions. They may be when they are being driven, but they and their batteries have to be made, just like any other car, and where do you think the electricity comes from? Do owners realise how much a new battery will cost, and who will pay for disposing of the old one?

[/quote]

Completely correct. We have to face up (and by we I mean the human race, especially environmentalists and governments) that there is no such thing as a free lunch or free mobility in this case.

Everything we do in modern day life impacts on our environment. Heck, even typing this has had an impact from the electricity used to the production of the PC.

We have a relatively efficient production process for the existing internal combustion engine vehicle, one which is a lot more environmentally friendly than the production of electric vehicles. Why don't we continue, may be at an accelerated rate, to refine this process.

I can't profess to have a full working knowledge of the hydrogen vehicle, such as the Honda Clarity, but that certainly fits in more with our existing ethos than the electric car. Couple that with the fact it looks to be more environmentally friendly than battery powered vehicles, I think we should carefully consider which route to take for the future.

As for who will pay for the disposal of the batteries, well that is going to be the manufacturers - which in turn we will pay for through the cost of the batteries.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

17 December 2008

Teg, exactly what is it about hydrogen that makes you think it is any more environmentally friendly than a battery? Like battery powered cars, it's only a means of storing energy, which has to be first produced somewhere else. And even then, it's not an especially great way of storing it - it's expensive to liquify and keep liquid. Even from a well insulated fuel tank it leaks over time. Hence why BMW advise against keeping their hydrogen powered 7 Series in an underground car park. So it has cost and development issues, just like battery technology.

[quote TegTypeR]As for who will pay for the disposal of the batteries, well that is going to be the manufacturers - which in turn we will pay for through the cost of the batteries.[/quote]

You realise that manufacturers also have to pay for the disposal of petrol powered cars, which also have batteries inside them. Petrol powered cars also have the environmental cost of disposing of carcinogenic oil every 10-30k miles. Batteries last a fair bit longer.

But back to the point of zero emissions. Electric cars are zero emission at the point of use. Which in a congested city with poor air quality is of far more relevance to us and our health than the more wishy washy "killing the planet" type arguments. Power stations are relatively clean running things, and don't dump their emissions into the centre of densely populated areas.

17 December 2008

does mitsubishi really think that anyone will pay £15000 for this. despite its good intention in these chastened times they are somewhat misguided.

200 sales per year? One each as dealer demo, a few "holier than though" city dwellers and the last few at a car supermarket come December.

Mitsu, if you really want to compete make a decent supermini, good stop/start diesel; engine and a design that you would not mind being seen in.

19 December 2008

[quote MrTrilby]But back to the point of zero emissions. Electric cars are zero emission at the point of use. Which in a congested city with poor air quality is of far more relevance to us and our health than the more wishy washy "killing the planet" type arguments. Power stations are relatively clean running things, and don't dump their emissions into the centre of densely populated areas. [/quote] Good point, well made. And related to this, the argument for diesels - however economical they are - is fatuous. Even the "cleanest" diesel is far more damaging to human lungs than a petrol unit. Google PM10s. Plus, the smell that even the "cleanest" diesel spews out of its rear end is absolutely disgusting.

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