Track Tested: 2010 Mitsubishi i MiEV vs. Mitsubishi i


2010 Mitsubishi i MiEV vs. Mitsubishi i

Edmunds.com tests hundreds of vehicles a year, but not every vehicle gets a full write-up. The numbers still tell a story, though, so we present "IL Track Tested." It's a quick rundown of all the data we collected at the track, along with comments direct from the test drivers. Enjoy.

Mitsubishi's i car is part of the kei car class in Japan. Basically, this is the smallest type of car you can buy there, and the Japanese government subsidizes them (in the form of tax breaks and insurance savings) to encourage people to buy them. The dimensions of the cars are limited to 3.3 meters long by 1.4 meters wide; there's no height limit. The maximum engine displacement is 660cc.

The Mitsubishi i car was somewhat revolutionary when it entered this segment because of its rear-midship engine layout and rear-drive architecture. By locating the engine in the back, Mitsubishi opened up more space in the cabin and improved ride and handling dynamics (generally not a strong point of these ungainly little cars).

So there's the Mitsubishi i, which has a 660cc three-cylinder gasoline engine. There's also the i MiEV, which is an i car that swaps out that gas engine for a rear-drive electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. The i MiEV is Mitsubishi's first electric car. It's already being sold to commercial fleets in Japan, and Mitsu has said it will start selling it to Japanese consumers in April. Eventually, the plan is to bring the i MiEV to North America.

We tested the i and the i MiEV on the same day. The numbers are definitely not the stuff of champions, but this is the first time we've ever had an electric car outperform its gasoline counterpart -- and with a 300-pound weight disadvantage to boot.

  i MiEV i
     
0-30 (sec): 4.5 4.3
0-45 (sec): 7.9 8.4
0-60 (sec): 13.5 14.9
0-75 (sec): ----- -----
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 19.3 @ 70.3 19.7 @ 68.0
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 13.1 14.6
30-0 (ft): 32 29
60-0 (ft): 132 120
Skid pad lateral acceleration (g): 0.73 0.74
Slalom 61.9 60.2

Vehicle: 2010 Mitsubishi i MiEV
Odometer: 6,136 (km)
Date: 12/22/09
Driver: Josh Jacquot
Price: N/A

Specifications:
Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Single-stage helical
Engine Type: Permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor (with 330-volt lithium-ion battery pack)
Redline (rpm): N/A
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 63
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 133
Brake Type (front): Ventilated disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Brake Type (rear): Drum
Steering System: Electrically-assisted power rack-and-pinion
Steering Ratio: Variable, 16.5:1 to 17.0:1
Suspension Type (front) Independent, MacPherson strut, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Three-link De Dion axle, coil springs
Tire Size (front): 145/65R15 72S
Tire Size (rear): 145/65R15 72S
Tire Brand: Dunlop
Tire Model: Enasave ES801
Tire Type: Low rolling resistance all-season
Curb Weight As Tested (lb): 2,450

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 4.5
0 - 45 (sec): 7.9
0 - 60 (sec): 13.5
0 - 75 (sec): -----
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 19.3 @ 70.9
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 13.1
30 - 0 (ft): 32
60 - 0 (ft): 132
Braking Rating: Average
Slalom (mph): 61.9
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.73
Handling Rating: Average
Db @ Idle: N/A
Db @ Full Throttle: 63.2
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 63.2

Acceleration Comments: Acceleration is as uneventful and seamless as using a kitchen mixer and is accompanied by very similar sounds. Just put your foot down and speed builds slowly with little drama. No shifting. No thinking. No caring -- just like people will want with this kind of car.

Braking Comments: Wow! This is the softest brake pedal I've ever experienced. Not as unnatural as many cars with regenerative systems. Though the feel isn't good and the pedal travel is long, we were able to acclimate to this setup.

Handling Comments: The Mitsubishi i wasn't designed to engage its driver in handling tests, especially this EV model, which has 45-series tires. It feels tall and narrow, just like it looks, and this does little for making it graceful through the slalom. It never feels unstable, just uncomfortable at the limit. Still, the electric version, thanks to immediate throttle response, is quicker through the slalom than the gas-powered i car.

Vehicle: 2010 Mitsubishi i
Odometer: 3,999 (km)
Date: 12/22/09
Driver: Josh Jacquot
Price: $16,000 (estimated)

Specifications:
Drive Type: All-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 4-speed automatic
Engine Type: Inline 3 cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 659/40
Valvetrain: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Redline (rpm): N/A
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 63 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 69 @ 3,000
Brake Type (front): Ventilated disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Brake Type (rear): Drum
Steering System: Electrically-assisted power rack-and-pinion
Steering Ratio: Variable, 16.5:1 to 17.0:1
Suspension Type (front) Independent, MacPherson strut, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Three-link De Dion axle, coil springs
Tire size, front: 145/65R15 72S
Tire size, rear: 175/55R15 77V
Tire brand: Dunlop
Tire model: SP Sport 2030
Tire type: Summer performance
Curb weight, as-tested (lb):  2,147

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 4.3
0 - 45 (sec): 8.4
0 - 60 (sec): 14.9
0 - 75 (sec):  -----
1/4 mile (sec. @ mph): 19.7 @ 68.0
0-60 with 1-ft rollout (sec.): 14.6
30 - 0 (ft): 29
60 - 0 (ft): 120
Braking rating: Good
Slalom (mph): 60.2
Skid pad lateral acceleration (g): 0.74
Handling rating: Average

Acceleration Comments: Brake torque seems to do little to help motivate the i off the line. Shifts are slow and gear spacing is wide. Third gear is especially tall. Not powerful enough for busy American freeways.

Braking Comments: Consistent stops without drama. Tracking is straight and we experienced no significant fade.

Handling Comments: The Mitsubishi i wasn't designed to engage its driver in handling tests. It likes to heel over and get into a hop-hop-hop cycle around the skidpad which doesn't stop until the driver lifts. Silly and pointless. Feels very out of place in handling tests. Slow steering, low roll stiffness and very little grip assign this machine to its target -- city car drivers only.

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