Inhabitat had a one-day fling with a Mitsubishi i electric car recently, and we were surprised by what we found. The Mitsubishi i is an all-electric plug-in vehicle, which can be charged in your garage using a regular or dedicated charger (22.5 long hours or 7 hours respectively) or with a high-voltage quick charger for an 80% charge in just 30 minutes. We were expecting an urban runabout, since the Mitsubishi i is a small vehicle with a 63-mile estimated range. What we didn't expect was that the i handles itself quite well in snow, since of course it had to snow heavily for the 3-hour period we took it out for a test drive and photo shoot.
We had been warned to precondition the cabin of the i by remote starting the heater to pull the energy off the grid before starting off, because using the HVAC in the i can reduce your range. We didn’t have a chance to plug in the i before setting off, and were a little taken aback to discover that just turning the fan onto low reduced our estimated range by 10 miles. Turning the heat up reduced it another 10 miles, so we drove to town turning the defroster on long enough to diffuse the fog on the windshield, then turning it back off until our toes were frozen and our neck stiff from peering through a half-defrosted windshield. However, what we could see out of said windshield was other cars sliding into the ditch. Much larger sedans were sliding all over the road, while our tiny electric i with snow tires on its Hostess cupcake wheels was sticking to the road surprisingly well.
When we got on the highway, our range was further decimated: 25 miles of lost estimated range with 3 miles of 70 mile-per-hour driving. The i drove competently in high-speed traffic, however, so it would be fine for the occasional jaunt on the freeways, especially if you tried the super efficient Eco drive mode (save regular Drive mode or B for extra regenerative braking for city traffic). The i is silent upon starting, so you’ll feel like you’re driving an electric airport people mover train when you accelerate. Since it’s a small car, the i doesn’t have as much screaming fun as, say, the all-electric Tesla Roadster, but it does the job. There isn’t a lot of foot or head room in here, so tall drivers may want to head for larger cars, and the trunk behind the rear seats only fit our sled sideways, as you can see in the photo gallery. Still, the Mitsubishi i was surprisingly normal inside, with a nicely appointed interior that is well put together. You’ll feel like a squirrel scrambling out of traffic if you pull any super quick moves in this car, but if you can charge the car at least every 30-40 miles of driving, you won’t even have to think about using the heating or air conditioning, and you can probably run this car off your house’s electricity for one-tenth the cost of filling up at the gas station. We’re hoping for a long-range version of the i, which currently starts around $21,000, but the current version will fill most peoples’ needs very well, and you won’t find anything cuter on the road.