Review

Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car

Price  £28,554

Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Very low running costs
  • Silent running electric motor
  • Tiny size makes it great in town
Cons
  • Expensive to buy
  • Limited range beyond city streets
  • You need a socket nearby to charge up

At a glance

The greenest
i-MiEV Keiko 5dr £28,554
The cheapest
i-MiEV Keiko 5dr £28,554
The fastest
i-MiEV Keiko 5dr £28,554
Top of the range
i-MiEV Keiko 5dr £28,554

"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

4 / 5

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

2 / 5

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

2 / 5

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

2.2 / 5

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

3.4 / 5

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

1.5 / 5

You pay a lot for the benefit of low running costs

Cars such as the i-MiEV are eligible for the Government's £5,000 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.

What the others say

3 / 5
based on 2 reviews
4 / 5
Apart from the stickers and a plug-in socket, the exterior is identical to the regular i. Inside, the only changes are the addition of a battery meter, while the auto box is swapped for a selector with two modes – Drive and Eco.
2 / 5
Being electric-powered, the i-MiEV has zero emissions; plus, it's pretty nippy in town. There's enough space for four and running costs are low.
The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is a battery-powered version of Mitsubishi's narrow-but-tall city i car. Its small internal combustion engine has been replaced with some batteries and an electric motor. Crucially, it's a production car rather than merely an experiment or limited-run programme.
You could say that Mitsubishi's i MiEV (pronounced “I Meev”) hasn’t moved the game at all, except it looks so damned sexy and it carries four people instead of milk crates. Mitsubishi also made me get up very early to drive it, so I felt quite at home.
Last updated 
1 Jan 2014
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