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Leaf betters i-MiEV on range and charging time

A week into my long-term test drive of the all-electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV is providing some early insights into the differences between it and the Nissan Leaf, the first all-electric vehicle in the Sun’s Driving … Unplugged series.
As I chronicled in print and on the Driving…Unplugged blog recently, the physical differences between the two all-electrics are immediately apparent. The four-door, five-passenger Leaf has many of the creature comforts of a mid-luxury sedan, while the minimalist, four-door, four-passenger i-MiEV offers more of an entry level feature list when it comes to such comforts.
That’s reflected in the pricing of the two, as the Mitsu is some $10,000 less than the Leaf equipped with the Technology Package. That said, the i-MiEV still has plenty of great onboard technology, including a heated driver’s seat.
The Mitsu’s automatic transmission offers three driving modes: D for maximum power; Eco for maximum economy; and B for maximum regenerative braking. This latter one is quite interesting, and though the Leaf optimizes regenerative braking — as do all EVs and gasoline hybrids — it does not have a dedicated B gear.
I’ve experimented with the B gear now on a couple of occasions, including a descent of Cypress Bowl Road and on my daily commute down the Cut on Highway 1 in North Vancouver.
True to its design, when engaged the B gear flings the dashboard display charging needle to the full extreme. But it also acts as such a brake to keep the car hovering around the 45 km/h mark, meaning you’re a bit of an impediment to traffic behind you in instances like the 90 km/h Cut.
I found that keeping it in the Eco mode on such descents kept the charge needle at full but also freed up the wheels for a 75-80 km/h speed.
Like the Nissan, the Mitsu features active stability control and traction control.
And the i-MiEV’s battery system, the Leaf’s is lithium ion and features an eight-year limited warranty.
However, the Leaf has a quicker charging time using Level 1 and Level 2 charging cables. At Level 1 — your typical three-pronged house plug you use for an electric lawn mower — the i-MiEV takes 22 hours to fully charge from empty; the Leaf 16 hours. Using Level 2 — the kind the vast majority of public charging stations offer — the i-MiEV takes seven hours compared to the Leaf’s four.
An advantage the i-MiEV has over the Leaf is its DC Quick Charge connection. The Mitsu comes standard with a special port on the driver’s side of the rear that when plugged to a DC Quick Charging allows for an 80 per cent charge time of just 30 minutes. Only the mid-trim and top-of-the-line Leaf trim come with such a port, and the charging time is similar.


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