The 2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV is an all-electric micro-car, based on a Japanese-market gasoline-powered version. The rear-drive i-MiEV is powered by a 49-kW (66-horsepower) AC synchronous electric motor, which draws from an 88-cell, 330V lithium-ion battery pack. The unit produces 145 foot-pounds of instant torque and is mated to a single-speed reduction-gear transmission. It is capable of going 62 miles or more on a charge, with a top speed of 80 mph.
The 5-passenger i-MiEV can be recharged in one of three ways: A standard household (110V) socket takes about 22 hours for a full charge; a 220V Level-2 charging system replenishes the car in 7 hours; or a Level-3 quick-charging CHAdeMO DC station provides an 80% full charge in just 30 minutes.
The batteries are housed in a waterproof stainless-steel safety cell below the passenger-compartment floor, and if they become too warm, cooled air from the ventilation system is circulated to the pack. During normal driving, regenerative braking helps recover some energy during coasting or braking. The i-MiEV comes three drive settings: "D" position generates 100% torque and allows for maximum performance; "ECO" position maximizes energy usage by reducing power output and battery consumption; while "B" position increases regenerative brake bias to augment energy recycling, while still offering 100% torque.
While the little Mitsubishi is designed to be an urban vehicle, it's not completely out of place on the highway. The car has what are pretty typical small-car components for steering and suspension -- a front strut setup and deDion 3-link configuration in the rear. Staggered tires -- wider in back than in front -- help keep this rear-wheel-drive vehicle stable and secure.
The i-MiEV is just 145 inches long, yet it can accommodate four adults if needed, thanks to the relatively high roofline and short overhangs that help maximize passenger space within the small overall footprint. And thanks to a wheelbase of 100.4 inches -- relatively long for such a short vehicle -- the Mitsubishi i-MiEV rides smoothly, without bobbing fore and aft as some microcars tend to do. Also, the interior is surprisingly quiet most of the time, with the near-silent electric powertrain never obtrusive.
For 2014, the i-MiEV is offered in ES trim. This includes many standard features that were previously optional on the 2012 model. The car offers alloy wheels, fog lights, heated front seats and side mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a quick-charge DC port, air conditioning, a 4-speaker, 100-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3 playback, a remote system to pre-activate the air-conditioning, heater and timed battery charging, 50/50 split-fold rear seats, and more. Optional extras include an LED Interior Illumination Package, Rear Park Assist Package, a Cargo Package and body side moldings.
On the safety front, the i-MiEV includes front seat-mounted side airbags and roof-mounted side-curtain bags. Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control are also included.