Mitsubishi i

Mitsubishi's i is characterful and the Smart that never was. It should meet its sales target...

Evo rating
Price
from £9,084
  • Great runabout for city-dwellers
  • You can take the car out of the city...

Its name reads like a typographical error, from front-on it looks like a mobile phone, and it has but 660cc to punt it along. But we can’t help rather liking the Mitsubishi i.

The i is a Japanese K-car, the first of the current generation to be officially imported to the UK. Designed primarily for city use, it’s a rival to the Smart ForTwo, except that the i is for four, which makes it even smarter.

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Under the floor, just ahead of the rear axle, is a 660cc 3-cylinder turbo engine, which, if you’ve a keen ear and even keener imagination, sounds a little bit like one bank of a 911’s flat-six. It drives the rear wheels through a four-speed auto; keep the throttle pinned and it’ll keep pace with most traffic.

The i is shorter and narrower than a Toyota Aygo, narrower even than a Smart. So what you really want to know is, just how unstable does it feel at speed, and does it feel like it’s going to fall over when you throw it into a corner? With the engine mounted just ahead of the rear axle, it actually has quite a sweet inherent balance, once you get over the sensation of teetering atop a shopping trolley, though hard cornering isn’t exactly in its ‘comfort zone’. In the dry it’s the front that gives up the fight first; in the wet, with drive going to the rear and no traction control, you can even make it do little skids. It wanders around a bit, especially in cross winds, but relax with it and it’ll buzz along quite happily, occasionally nudging into its speed limiter at an indicated 86mph.

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Mitsubishi wants to sell just 300 in the UK initially, which oughtn’t to be a problem. For nine grand you get CO2 emissions of 114g/km, well over 50mpg, air con, alloys, CD player and electric windows but, inexplicably for an i-car, no socket for your iPod. Still, it’s characterful, clever and kind of cool – the four-seater that Smart should have made.

Specifications

EngineIn-line 3-cyl, 660cc, turbo
Max power57bhp @ 6000rpm
Max torque62lb ft @ 3000rpm
0-6014.9sec (claimed)
Top speed84mph (limited)
On saleNow
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