Mitsubishi I Test Drive
Mitsubishi I Test Drive
By Noel Adams
I have driven a right hand drive Mitsubishi i-MiEV a couple of times and found the car to be a fun drive. At the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show I finally manged to get a test drive of the 2012 Mitsubishi I. The I is a little over 4 inches wider than the i-MiEV but it is still a little narrower than the Fiat 500. Still, I didn't feel at all cramped in the driver's seat although I am on the small side.
The I starts with a normal key which you put in the ignition and turn to the right. On my first attempt I didnít turn the switch far enough and it just went into accessory mode. Another twist, all the way over to the right, put the car into ready and I was good to go.
The I offers three modes, Economy, Normal, and B which turns up the regenerative braking. There is a mode selectir on the center consul which I found hard to see. I fiddled with it a bit before the guy from Mitsubishi told me that it is easier to watch the instrument display which shows what mode you have currently selected. Once I had this trick down it was easy to flip the car into Economy mode and a light press on the accelerator got me moving.
I drove slowly through the parking lot manovering around the other cars waiting at the ride and drive area and made my way to the entrance. The power steering felt light and firm and works well for the Iís primary mission which is commuting around town. The car is highly maneuverable and was easy to navigate through the crowded parking lot. I expect this car to appeal more to people who live in crowded cities like San Fransisco or New York where its small size will help people squeeze into tight parking spaces.
Once I was out of the parking lot turned right onto LA Live Way. I was able to punch the accelerator and merge into LA traffic with no problem. Some electric cars Iíve driven feel very sluggish in economy mode and that was my only real beef with the Nissan Leaf, but while acceleration on the I wasnít that swift in economy mode I never felt like it couldnít handle merging into traffic.
I switched the car into Normal mode and acceleration on the car is noticeably brisker. It isnít the neck snapping jolt that some electric cars can give but quite respectable for a subcompact like the I. Traffic was flowing well around the Convention Center and the I kept up with traffic flow with no problem whatsoever.
I turned right onto Olympic Blvd and as I approached Figeroa I switched the car into B mode. Acceleration felt exactly the same as on Normal mode but when I backed off the accelerator the regenerative braking kicks in and slows the car appreciably. I sometimes find that with strong regen a car can feel like you stood on the brakes when you back off the accelerator but the I seems to be set up the way I like it with noticeable braking, but not enough to make you worried about being rear ended. With a bit of practice you could probably time the braking to stop at lights without having to do more than touch the brake pedal to bring you to a final stop. If I owned an I I would probably drive the car in B mode most of the time when I was in the city.
I made a right onto Figeroa and started back to the Convention Center. The car was an absolute joy to drive in city traffic and I was sorry when I turned back into the parking lot at the end of the all too short drive. Mitsubishi are now taking orders for the I and deliveries are set to start before the end of the year. Of the crop of electric cars currently available I think the quirky little I is probably my favorite.
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