Driven: Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Don Sherman

Two dials that resemble the ears of the instrument cluster's Mickey Mouse shape report what you need to know about driving range. The left one is an arc-shaped bar graph corresponding to the battery pack's state of charge. At its center is what looks like a gas pump with the hose and nozzle replaced by an electric cord and plug. To the right is a digital remaining-range gauge that combines recent driving history with the battery's state of charge to predict how many kilometers of driving you can expect before stopping to recharge the lithium-ion batteries.

The main Mickey face has a digital speedometer (in kilometers per hour) at its center surrounded by a wildly swinging power needle that ranges from Charge (during regenerative braking) on the left to Power (full acceleration) at the right. This dial is color-keyed with the usual red, yellow, and green markings to encourage prudent use of available energy. A small turtle symbol illuminates when battery state of charge falls below 5-percent. Driving instructions applicable to this eventuality state, 'Please get off the road and charge immediately.'

A standard floor shifter provides Park, Neutral, Reverse, and three forward driving options. The D position enables maximum acceleration. The Eco position restricts power use somewhat and increases the amount of regenerative braking. The B position combines maximum power availability with maximum regeneration.

Life in the Quiet Lane
Other than the usual seat-belt chimes and door-ajar reminders, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV is virtually mute. The audible whir from the tires and driveline is quieter than the HVAC fan set at medium power. For sneaking out of the garage after hours or creeping up on unsuspecting pedestrians, this car cannot be beat. In fact, it would be prudent of Mitsubishi to add warning tones before US deliveries commence to avoid crushed pets and cross-walk collisions.

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