Gallery: TEST DRIVE: Inhabitat Takes a Chilly But Impressive Ride in th...

 
Just as in a Prius, the Mitsubishi i has a raked windshield for maximum aerodynamics, which requires an extra panel of glass in front of the side mirrors.

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.

+ Mitsubishi

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1 Comment

  1. tahrey March 12, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Small city cars are _usually_ pretty good on snow (as, counterintuitively, are bikes and motorbikes). Light weight, but skinny tyres, meaning not much force is needed to move/stop them but you still get plenty of pressure on the snow/ice giving you a better contact (less slipping from the aquaplaning layer of water that builds up under fatter tyres). Plus front wheel drive, a lower powered (and so easier to feed in minimal torque) engine, and often a manual gearbox (a godsend for snow driving)

    The surprise to me is that a heavy, rear wheel drive, high torque and effectively auto-shift one like the MiEV was still as good!

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