• Mar 22, 2008
Click image for a high-res gallery of the turbocharged Mitsubishi i

I'm the resident kei car obsessive here at Autoblog. That means I'm the guy who actually thinks, "That is awesome," when he reads the (Google translated) announcement of yet another Suzuki Wagon R variant. Hell, I did two posts on the one-off Hello Kitty Mitsubishi i. Keis are cool. So, you can imagine how happy I was to see that Mitsubishi brought along a small fleet of its i minicars to the New York Auto Show this year.

Foreground: i MiEV, Background: i TurboMitsubishi's focus at the show was squarely on the the all-electric i MiEV, which goes on sale in Japan next year and will be tested in North America this fall. The gasoline-powered version was on hand, too, though. I drove the i MiEV for AutoblogGreen, and was a passenger in a black i Turbo. Head over to AutoblogGreen for driving impressions of the i MiEV, and note that many of the observations there apply to both the electric and gasoline-powered cars.

The i Turbo you see here is powered by a 660cc 3-cylinder that delivers around 64 horsepower. It's got around half the torque of the electric i MiEV and it's buzzier-sounding (obviously), but it felt just as well-suited to city driving in New York as its battery-powered counterpart. It can comfortably transport four adults and a bit of cargo, too. Try doing that in a smart.

Mitsubishi is monitoring public reaction to the cars this week, so if you go to the show and like what you see, make sure to let them know. Me? I'll happily take one in black -- with a DAMD kit for optimum not-exactly-badassedness.

Head to AutoblogGreen for a full i MiEV review and video.



All photos Copyright © 2008 Alex Núñez / Weblogs, Inc.


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  • 33 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      "powered by a 660cc 3-cylinder that delivers around 64 horsepower ... can comfortably transport four adults"


      downhill only!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is what Mitsubishi needs to do. Talk about a halo car. Capture some of the cool urban hip vibe of the Smart with a car that is more practical. This is a great way to get people shopping Mitsubishi dealerships and talking about the brand.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This looks great! Mitsu can go somewhere with this!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Cool looking.

      The height-to-width ratio looks odd... from viewing the photos. Will have to see one of these in person. The bulges from the wheel arch on the rear-end don't appear very clean (I don't like how the rear-wheel-wells protrude out in the back and into the rear bumper on many small cars). Otherwise very neat looking B-car (or A?).
      • 6 Years Ago
      Do they have a 1-liter version of the Mitsubishi i? I'm actually considering buying a SMART, as I am a college student in SoCal with a long commute. Not sure how high dealers are marking prices up yet as I haven't visited one yet.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I mean "Wow". This really looks like a glorified Tata Nano design.. Most design cues look similar.. But, i like this one much better..
        • 6 Years Ago
        This came before the Tata Nano. So the nano is the rip-off design.

        Anyway nice car, though never seen one on the road in the UK yet despite being out for almost a year.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Not everyone likes Honda's and that's fine, Personally I Love Honda's they have served me well, I would love a Fit, the new one looks very sharp, I hope its MPG figures are as good as the Civics.

      Im not here to argue about Mitsubishi versus Honda, They should both be sold in the USA, We need more choice in this country, there are so many cars in this world that are unkown to Americans, we have the Biggest market why shouldnt we have a choice.

      The Mitsu is smaller than the Fit, they just look similar.

      If Mitsubishi doesn't bring this car here maybe they should consider the Colt range, thats another good little car, we used to have them as the Plymouth and Dodge Colt remember.

      Mitsubishi have been losing sales, They need to bring cars here they sell in other parts of the world, The L200 pick up would be a hit for sure.

      My Opinions about the Tata Nano are not good, but its fine for people in India that presently ride a donkey or drive a moped.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I personally can't stand these tiny cars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Praise Xenu! A set of comments that doesn't include the requisite "They're trying to rip-off a smart car!" comment. Shhhh...maybe the red-necks won't notice this story and will go back to 'F350-luvers.com'

      I love this car...I hope we see it in Canada, too, which is likely since the smaller eurasian cars are popular here.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've always liked this Mitsu. It strikes me as the smarter Smart.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Looks good enough to me, but of course it isn't around to actually look at. Am I right in assuming it's about Mini-sized, with just better packaging to give it Cobalt-like interior space? So I could assume that this would possibly pull in a 40mpg average easily with a proper transaxle?

      How difficult is it to get to the engine compartment? I refuse to allow morons near my cars; as every time I've taken a vehicle in to someone else to be worked on, three things break.

      Sadly, it looks like there's more room than in the craptastic Fit I looked at a week ago. Probably more torque as well. And better comfort, fuel economy, and the transaxle won't implode after 30,000 miles like a Honda will. Or catch fire and incinerate the occupants for no apparent reason. Well, it's not hard to do better than a Honda. Yugo comes to mind.

      I shouldn't bother getting excited about this car though. I'll never buy one. It'll never come to the USA. And I won't be moving to where it's sold.
        • 6 Years Ago
        You're a complete idiot. I certainly hope I'm not the first person to have told you this.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Wow. What kind of Honda have you been driving?

        • 6 Years Ago
        Actually, I coaxed about 90,000 out of my Honda's transaxle. Amusingly, 168,000 out of an A-500 in a Dodge Dakota; totaled by a drunk in a wreck. 280,000 out of a 700r4 in a GMC 1/2 ton, traded in still running. 130,000 in whatever the slush-box was in my Camaro, sold to a friend who was begging me for the damn thing. Heck, even the Hyundai SCoupe had 140,000 with a slush-box. And I was given that car for free. It had jumped time though, so I never drove it. Engine was gone.

        For work, I drove a '79 GMC with a 454 and a slush-box that had around 400,000 miles when it was sold. The '89 GMC had 178,000 when sold. The Chevy step van, a '86 IIRC, had over 500,000 miles on it when sold. There's a reason I'll look at a GM first; and that's decades of excellent service.

        That's just a sampling, and ignoring many, many other vehicles I could call on. No Toyotas because I can't recall a single one owned by the family with an automatic. All of them had stick shifts (and gave excellent service as well). Same for the Mitsubishis, and Nissans, and Mazdas.

        I go by real reliability ratings; Consumer Affairs complaints and heading to forums to see what are common problems. I don't post at forums, I look at their tech help sections. Consumer Reports bases their ratings on bribe money and blow jobs.

        Except for Chrysler; who fired a guy who is now a top dog at CR. If they built a modern version of the A-727, and a car which outclasses everything in the world, got 50mpg, out runs a GT-R; and would drive a person with no maintenance for 600,000 miles; it would still be rated dismally.

        The most common problem I see is with their transmissions; something I noted with mine as well. Fit and finish is forgivable in a volume car like a Civic; comfort is not.

        I also test drove a new Civic back in '06. Which managed to stall with the A/C on. This is with an automatic. Typically, when I look for a car, there are no manuals around. I have never once seen or heard of an automatic transmission stalling a car with or without the A/C. I've had vehicles from pretty much every other manufacturer that never did that.

        I actually asked online at that point; which I was told that is a common issue with Civics. It was an issue with my old one, and it was an issue with a car on the lot. I've heard from Honda enthusiasts that it is an issue with their cars. Who do you think I'll believe? You? A magazine which is known to be fraudulent? Or people who own the damn cars?

        The Fit is a lower-powered, poorly assembled subcompact. The interior is cramped, and uncomfortable. The dash makes a Cobalt look like a Cadillac. And I usually have no problems with the 'hard cheap plastic' most cars have. It has very little room in the back, to the point that I am better off keeping my current car. I looked at three of them, and all were pretty much the same.

        The Civic I test drove hurt my back after a few moments in the driver seat. Something again no other car in it's class has done. I've taken a 1,100 mile trip in my Cobalt in a single sitting, and my back didn't bother me as much as a mere moment in that Civic.

        You are either paid by Honda or on drugs. Which is it? The Fit is an utter piece of crap; devoid of any redeemable features. The Civic is an utter piece of crap; also devoid of any redeemable features. The only thing I can say for the Fit is that they actually had a couple equipped with a proper trans-axle. If it had decent seats, and I could get in it without my back killing me within seconds, I might have even test drove that one.

        I don't go by a magazine which is known to have faulty testing procedures and which has historically recommended models based on prior vehicles by that manufacturer, instead of any real data. Toyota's Tundra was recommended as well, until the cam shafts started snapping, torque converters started failing, ad infinitum. Why? Based on how much money Toyota paid the magazine.

        Every other manufacturer I test drove was fine. I bought the Cobalt primarily due to price. If any of the dealers for any one else had a manual trans-axle equipped car on the lot, I would have bought it. If the other dealers had quite the deal on their cars, I would have probably been driving a Sentra, or Corolla, or Vibe/Matrix, or whatever.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Quick question for Alex Nunez: Is there a Kei car blog-- in english-- which I could visit for current info on these "small wonders"? Thanks, Jeff.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I wish there was, Jeff. I'm not aware of any right now.
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