Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car
- Very low running costs
- Silent running electric motor
- Tiny size makes it great in town
- Expensive to buy
- Limited range beyond city streets
- You need a socket nearby to charge up
At a glance
"Pioneering i-MiEV electric car offers super-low running costs, but the asking price is high."
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV started life as the i, a tall, narrow, futuristic looking four-seater city car with a tiny petrol engine under the boot floor. Mitsubishi then developed a 64bhp electric motor and battery system to replace the engine, giving the i-MiEV a range of 93 miles on a full charge.
That means short journeys are this car's forte – and it's perfect for city life. There's space for four inside as well as enough room in the boot for a couple of shopping bags. You need to plug the car in to recharge the batteries, but this costs considerably less than filling a conventional car with petrol.
Running costs are extremely low, with free road tax and parking bays available, plus exemption from the London Congestion Charge. However, this is offset by the i-MiEV's list price, which is on a par with upmarket saloons such as the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Motoring doesn't come any cheaper than this
Once you've overcome the shock of the i-MiEV's asking price, running costs are ridiculously low. Charging a flat battery to full costs around £2 on a standard electricity rate and this is good for a range of around 93 miles – you'd easily spend £10 to fill up a petrol city car to go the same distance.
The savings don't end there, as the i-MiEV is exempt from road tax, qualifies for cheap or even free parking in some regions, is exempt from the London Congestion Charge and also qualifies for tax exemptions for business users.
Engines, drive & performance
Stay in the city to maximise your enjoyment
The i-MiEV is tailor-made for short trips on city streets, which is just as well, as that short range will make you think twice about journeying beyond the city limits. Because of the way electric cars work, all of the motor's power is available as soon as you press the accelerator, so the little Mitsubishi can rocket away from traffic lights.
Thanks to its narrow body, the i-MiEV is easy to thread through the smallest of gaps, while a relatively tall driving position and big windows give a great view of your surroundings. One thing to beware of when driving is that the i-MiEV barely makes any sound, so pedestrians, cyclists and other road users may not hear you coming.
Interior & comfort
Silent running is i-MiEV's forte
As there's no engine noise, the i-MiEV's cabin is a quiet and comfortable place to be, although if you do find yourself travelling on a faster road, you'll notice the electric motor emits a high-pitched whistle and tyre noise can also be heard. The tall body means there's plenty of space for four inside, although larger passengers in the back may tend to rub shoulders.
Practicality & boot space
Electric system doesn't encroach on interior space
Because its batteries are stored under the floor, the i-MiEV has the same amount of interior space as the petrol-engined car it's based on. There's room for four inside, although larger passengers may find it a squeeze in the back.
The boot holds 166 litres, which isn't huge, but enough for a couple of shopping bags. Charging is the biggest issue facing potential owners. The i-MiEV comes with a five-metre charging cable and Mitsubishi says you can't use a household extension cable, so you need to be able to park near a mains socket to charge it.
A full charge from empty from a mains socket takes around seven hours, while rapid charging at a dedicated car-park point should see the battery topped up from empty to 80% full in just half an hour.
Reliability & safety
Fewer moving parts mean less can go wrong
Mitsubishi has undertaken extensive testing of the charging system and electric drivetrain to ensure it's reliable. The car benefits from a 62,500-mile/five-year warranty, which should ensure several years of worry-free motoring. The i-MiEV was the first electric car to be crash-tested by Euro NCAP and it achieved a four-star rating.
Price, value for money & options
You pay a lot for the benefit of low running costs
Cars such as the i-MiEV are eligible for the Government's £4,500 electric-car grant, but that still means the Mitsubishi has an asking price of nearly £25,000. That's similar to an entry-level BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 and more than double that of a petrol city car such as the SEAT Mii. Standard equipment could be better, as sat nav and a premium six-speaker stereo are only available as options.