Mitsubishi i-MiEV (2013-2016)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered

5dr Supermini (BEV [64,67KW])


Few brands have dabbled in a wider range of products than Mitsubishi over the years. From huge SUVs and wild rally replica performance cars to models like this, the all-electric i-MiEV, introduced in 2013 and sold for just three years. This was one of the very first proper all-electric models to make it to the UK market but pricey asking figures restricted its sales impact. Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV customers reckoned though, that the car paid for itself in the cost savings it generated. But does it make sense as a used buy? Let’s see.

The History

Intelligent Motion. Almost every automotive brand, it seems, has its own idea of what that little slogan means. For some, it’s hybrid power. For others, hydrogen cell technology. Others still feel that there remains much to do in pursuit of making conventional petrol and diesel engines that much more efficient. All agree on one thing though. That ‘pure electric’ fully electric vehicles will have a major part to play in our motoring future. And the car we’re going to look at here was one of the very first such vehicles to market, Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV.

When in future decades, we look back on how full electric motoring first began, this is the car that will be wheeled out, significant not only for the Japanese brand but also for Peugeot and Citroen, who in this period both produced EV products sharing exactly the same design (the Peugeot ION and the Citroen C-ZERO). The MiEV was derived from an existing conventional petrol-powered citycar, the Mitsubishi i, introduced here back in 2007 having been originally created to suit Japanese K-car regulations which promote smaller, more efficient cars in return for tax and insurance perks.

An all-electric version was the ultimate K-car solution for Japan’s smog-laden city streets. Whether it would work as well in Western Europe was another question of course, especially at the kind of prices demanded by the necessary lithium-ion battery technology. There was also tough all-electric competition for this i-MiEV, not only from the comparable Peugeot and Citroen models but also from Nissan’s larger all-electric LEAF and the ‘E-REV’ or ‘Extended Range Electric Vehicles’ on offer in this period from Vauxhall and Chevrolet. It sold in tiny numbers and was finally deleted from the Mitsubishi range in late 2016.

What You Get

This i-MiEV was an electric version of the Mitsubishi i citycar, a design dating back to 2006. The very first i-MiEV models felt cheap and plasticky inside in a way that European buyers would have objected to. Peugeot changed much of that when it came to bringing their version, the iON, to market and Mitsubishi were watching closely. They not only built most of the French brand’s interior improvements into their version but also improved upon them, with options like the lovely – but sadly extra cost – leather-stitched dashboard finish.

As for the cabin itself, well yes, it really does feel surprisingly airy. Certainly it’s narrow, but then you’d expect that given that this car is under 1.6m wide. The main thing is that passenger space was completely unaffected by the switch from petrol to battery power. The electric motor sits under the rear seat, with the battery pack under the floor in place of the fuel tank.

At the wheel, you sit quite high, which isn’t a bad thing in an urban setting, surrounded by sensible ergonomics and excellent all-round visibility. Boot space isn’t huge but despite the need to accommodate all those batteries under the floor, the 170-litre figure is 40-litres more than you’d get in a citycar from this period .

What To Look For

Make sure the battery on your MiEV hasn’t been severely depleted; the car may have been sitting on a dealer lot (or someone’s drive) for months with flat charge before being jumped into life for your visit. The manual says you should ensure a full charge every 15 days, so it must be important. As part of ownership, Chademo rapid charging is fine so long as you don't over heat the car such as repeated use on long road trips. Don't leave the battery at 100% for any longer than absolutely necessary. As for tyre pressures, well make sure they're on the dot as under-inflation, even by a couple psi, can make a big difference to range.

On The Road

Because all 180Nm of torque is thrust onto the tarmac right from the word go, from 0-30mph, this car really does feel quite rapid (quicker in fact than a typical hot hatch), but progress slows as the revs rise, culminating in a 0-60mph of around 16s time that’s no better – but certainly no worse – than a conventional rival petrol citycar. Get fully up to speed and with 64bhp on tap, there’s an academic top speed of 80mph, with enough overtaking punch to get from 37 to 56mph in about six seconds, but approach either of those figures on any kind of regular basis and you’ll find the figure on your range indicator dropping like a stone. As with the Peugeot and Citroen versions of this car, the designers quoted a range (NEDC-rated) of up to 93 miles from fully charged, but that seemed to be a figure calculated on the basis of someone motoring very slowly indeed. We certainly never saw anything like that amount of projected mileage on this indicator in our time with this car. The computer driving the read-out bases its calculations on previous use, so artificially lowering a range figure you can then extend by driving carefully. Limited use of the heating and air con will also help.


‘MiEV’ stands for ‘Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle’ – and this was certainly that. It was one of the first pure electric vehicles of its kind and it remains one of the better early ones. Yes of course, you’ll need to be embarking on your electric adventure with your eyes wide open. You’ll need a garage for charging, naturally, and a more conventional car on hand for longer trips. We reckon though, that if you owned an i-MiEV, you’d be surprised by how much you used it. By how enjoyable it was to drive. And by how quickly you could justify the up-front outlay. In fact you’d be surprised all round. New technology has a way of delivering that doesn’t it?