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Auto review: Mitsubishi i-MiEV charges up a quiet, stable ride

The Volkswagen Beetle was introduced in the 1930s as “the people’s car” — a car almost everyone could afford. And advertisers in 1969, in a stroke of brilliance, called it ugly: “It’s ugly but it gets you there,” the clever ads read.

Well, in today’s world of electric vehicles, Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV, introduced in 2012, just may be “the people’s electric car.” At around $20,000 after a federal tax credit, it is thousands less than the electric competition. And when it comes to ugly, the Beetle’s got nothing on this little guy.

Oh, some will call it cute, with its short snout, chopped-off rear and tiny 15-inch tires. But the i is getting nowhere on its looks.

It does quite well, though, on its 49-kilowatt motor. Boosted by a lithium-ion battery pack, the little powerplant harnesses just 66 horses but, more important, it pushes out 145 pound-feet of torque. Zero-to-60 takes forever — 3.5 seconds — but on the highway it did not whine about 75 mph.

Truth is, it’s not a bad ride.

It is a quiet ride, as one might expect without an internal combustion engine rumbling up front. It feels stable on the open road, and even corners with minimal roll despite its height.

Steering is rather lightweight, and that, combined with its diminutive stature, makes it a breeze to maneuver and park. I mean, if you can’t park this baby, get yourself a bike. By the way, know that this i is huge compared to its Japanese kin — Mitsubishi stretched it 8 inches and widened it by 4 inches for the U.S. market.
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