GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

Mitsubishi i
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mitsubishi_i_miev.jpg

Years represented: 2003-2010
Hosts: GT4, GT5

Country of Origin: Japan
Class: Kei
Type: 5-Door Hatchback

Price: Prize from Mirage Cup (i Concept, GT4)
`````````$34.994 (i Concept, used car lot, GT5)
`````````$46,000 (i-MiEV, Premium car lot) 

Construction: aluminum monocoque

i Concept specs 
Length: 138.4 " // Width: 59.25" // Height: 59.6"
Wheelbase: 100.8"
Overhang: 3 feet 2 inches
Track: 51.2" [F], 50.4 [R]
Ground Clearance:
Weight: 1,742 pounds

Layout: rear-mid engine / rear-drive
Tires:
F. Suspension: Macpherson struts, coils
R. Suspension: DeDion Axle, shocks, Watt's links, coils
Brakes: ?
ABS? Yes /// EBD? Yes

Engine: 999 cc DOHC inline-3
Construction: aluminum block & head
Aspiration: natural with "dual VVT" valvetrain
Fuel System: EFi
Valves / Cyl: 4
Bore x Stoke:
Compression:

Tested HP: 66 @ 6,000 rpm
Tstd. Trque: 67 @ 3,500 rpm

Credits per HP: $530.21
Pounds per HP: 26.39
Pounds per Tq: 26.00
HP per Liter: 66.6 

Idle: 650 // Redline: 6,250 // RPM Limit:

Transmission: CVT
Differential: open

0-60 mph:
0-100 mph:
0-150 mph:

400 M:
1 Kilom:

Top Speed at Redline


i-MiEV specs
Length: 133.66" // Width: 58.1" // Height: 100.4"
Wheelbase: 100.4"
Overhang: 2 feet 9 inches
Track:
Ground Clearance:
Weight: 2,425 pounds

Layout: rear motors / rear-drive
Tires: 145/ 65-15 [F], 175/55-15 [R]
F. suspension: MacPherson struts, coils
R. suspension: 3-link, DeDion tube, Watt's Links, coils
Brakes: 


Motor: 330 volt, 16 kWa permanent magnet-type
Construction:
Aspiration: 88 cell lithium-ion battery
Range (real-life): 80-100 miles

Tested HP: 61 @ 4,200 rpm
Tstd. Trq: 129 @ 1,000 rpm

Credits per HP: $754.01
Pounds per HP: 39.76
Pounds per Trq: 18.80
Hp per Liter: ---

Transmission: none (direct drive motors at rear wheels)
Differential: none 

0-60 mph: 15.483
0-100 mph: nil
0-150 mph: nil

400 M:  22.258 / MPH NA
1 Kilom: 39.614 @ 82 mph

1 Mile: 55.890 @ 83 mph

Daytona Lap: 1:26.926

Top Speed at Redline
83 mph @ 6,300 rpm (RPM limited)

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---------EXTERIOR / HISTORY-----------


Hey everyone, how's it going out there? ;-) Ready for this review? We'll i'm looking forward to it. Get it? "i'm"? Ha ha. One might assume the "i" part (Mitsubishi's i, that is) has something to do with Apple Computer products. That's what i assumed. I mean "I". That's what I assumed. Jeez, this is going to be a long review. AND a test on personal pronoun grammar.  ;-)  

Those of you pondering which would be my very first Gran Turismo 5 car review, here it is. Nope, it's not the Suzuki Excuseo, nor is it a Nissan Silvia. My very first Gran Turismo 1 Car Review (circa December 2003) was the Toyota Sprinter/Trueno series, but I'm not starting GT5 with the Toyota. Honda Civic? Still cold. 
 
By the time I drove the Mitsubishi i (its gas-powered and electric versions), I had already driven several others in GT5...a Fiat 500 1.2 Lounge, a VW New Beetle 2.0, '88 Honda Accord Coupe and a few others. But the i takes the honorary first GT5 review. Somehow, reviewing the i just seems like the right way to start. Somehow, starting here is like starting with the perfect car. Let's start with a total goofy oddball! Right? Let's do a review on something totally out of the ordinary. If I'm going to start my very first GT5 car review, I don't want it to be something as plain or ordinary as a Levin Corolla, you follow?

I'm sure I'm like many others out there in this way: That first month of GT5 was a blur. A big, FAT blur, actually. Did lots of racing, lots of driving, lots of online competing (under several assumed names). Race after race, grind after grind. Only now, on January 16, 2010, am I beginning to slow this frantic pace and finally getting my first review done. Nope, it's not something fantastic or really even race-worthy! What were you expecting?

The Mitsubishi i, which I've nicknamed the "incredible driving egg", seems an odd choice in this highly-advanced racing game. Paint it the right color, and it really does look a bit like an easter egg! I think GT5's info on this car says something about it being nicknamed after an egg somehow in Japan. 
 
The Mitsubishi i first appeared in GT4 as the '03 Concept where I conveniently ignored it over the course of three years, maybe because in this game it was a prize. I wasn't in the habit of stalking those 1-make events as actively as I had been in GT2 (who has time?), which means the i got past me. In GT5, the Concept stands out more forcefully, saying "pick me! pick me!" as it boldly shows up in this game's used car lot. Since it appears early during the used car lot cycle, the i Concept was one of my earliest choices to start the game. Anyways, I was saying something about car descriptions earlier. At least i think i was.     

One of the features of Gran Turismo 5 is PD has finally brought the car descriptions back. Each car, once again, has its own little description for us to read as we're deciding whether or not to purchase these vehicles. We can even read this description while the game shows us a demo run! So everybody knows about the "i" part, right? It's not a rip-off of Apple products, nor is it some sort of association between Mitsubishi and Apple, as I'm sure many have assumed (myself included). The "i" is actually in reference to the Japanese word for love, which is phonetically spelled "aye" when using the English alphabet. "Mitsubishi aye" would be weird, though. This could lead to lots of people unable to pronouce the car's name, sort of like what initially happened to Toyota's Prius (...is that pronounced PrYus or PrEEus?). 

"Mitsubishi i"? on the other hand? Well everybody knows how to pronounce "i". Even i do. I mean I. Even I do. Drats. "Mitsubishi i" is also an i-catching name. I mean eye-catching. GRRRRR...you get the point i hope. :facepalm:   

There's stuff you probably don't know about the i-MiEV of GT5. Like, it is what they call a "plug-in electric", which means it needs several hours to recharge via an electrical outlet. It is also a Kei car, which means it's a subcompact. Weird, huh? It looks bigger than it actually is, somehow, but its dimensions are within Japan's infamous Kei car designations. The i Concept, on the other hand, is too big for the Kei class I believe. The Mitsubishi i is also a mid-engine / rear-drive car (assuming we're talking of the gas-powered version) or rear-motored / rear-drive (MiEV electric version).

I always like to talk about weight and paint options during this portion of the review, and it's interesting that the i Concept weighs several hundred pounds lighter than the MiEV. Granted, it is a Concept, and Concepts are sometimes incomplete vehicles. The MiEV's battery pack also weighs somewhere around 200 kg (440 pounds), which is probably heavier than the Concept's 1.0 liter engine. Probably. I'm not entirely sure....I couldn't find much info on this powerplant. I did at some point fully lighten the electric car so it could better compete in some K-car Seasonal Events. It falls to 2,063 pounds.     

Despite looking tallish, the i (gas or electric) also has a relatively low center of gravity. Driving it around, i was a little surprised at its well-planted cornering capabilities, but that's for the Handling section below. I mean "I", dammit. 

  

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----------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN-----------



One day Armand went for a walk down the street, when all a sudden, he stopped. Alarmed. Something was wrong. He could feel it in the air, literally. He could feel slight movements of air shifting all around. Micro-moments away, fear starts to pulse up his cerebral cortex, sending shivers down his spine and goosebumps on his arm. 

He feels that something is approaching him, but  can't hear which direction it is nearing from.

...Well, that's one scenario that could be faced if Armand were about to get run over by a Mitsubishi i, the other scenario is that he definitely DOES hear from which direction it's approaching! Far before he ever sees it! That's because one of these cars is deathly silent, the other is a little buzz-bomb! One of them is as stealthy as a hobbit with a silence spell cast upon it, the other, as loud as a drunken ogre who's just raided a treasure chest. A little D&D reference there, ha ha...

Such are the differences between the i-MiEV and i Concept. Let's not pretend we're even in the same sandbox, even though the plastic toys may look the same. Both cars have such different personalities, it's as if they're twins trying desperately to hide the fact they're twins. One is  bookwormish, smart, and quietly promises great things for the future, while the other is a little pugnacious loudmouth, about as quiet as a soccer announcer who just witnessed a goal. Gooooooooooal! So anyways, we shall start by discussing the i Concept first. 

In that scenario above, the i Concept was the noisier of the two. The buzz bomb. Notice its revs stay at a constant 6,000 to 6,500 rpm at all times. This is where peak power lies, depending on modifications. Its revs are kept constant because this car has a CVT (Continuously {or Constant} Variable Transmission). And the interesting thing is; yes, this car is low-powered, but check it out! That CVT at least keeps the 1.0 liter 3-cylinder engine in its peak power area at all times, giving it an advantage over some other mousetrap cars. That's kind of cool. These other cars actually lose speed as they're shifting gears, often winding up below their peak power.

The i-MiEV, on the other hand, takes this transmission oddity a step further. Matter of fact, the i-MiEV has no transmission! Instead, its mid-mounted motor is linked directly to the rear axles. This is good and bad. Good because there is no power being soaked up by a set of extra gears, transmission fluid, filter, and clutch. Bad because this car (unlike the Concept) will run out of revs eventually. Matter of fact, this electrobox's top speed is in the low 80s!  

So far as upgrades go, the i-MiEV is kinda like the '97 Toyota Prius of GT2, which couldn't accept power upgrades. The i-MiEV, on the other hand can accept better suspension parts, tires, weight reductions, and a limited-slip (which some drivers might actually want to consider purchasing). But no extra power. Because of this, many might assume this egg should go no further than the dealer's podium. They might assume the i (the electic one, especially) has no place, even during GT5's Beginner League races.

The surprsing thing, though, is that the i-MiEV can win a few of GT5's beginning races. So far I'm up to: Sunday Cup, World Compact Car Series, and Lightweight K Cup. Grind all these races, and you will see a decent profit, assuming you also sell all the prizes. Go electric!  

It's a little shining star in this way! It seems to say "Yes! i'm electric! i'm the way of the future! i'm the idea General Motors put to rest a few years back! But i'm also inefficient in comparison to gasoline-powered models. :-( i can only go so many miles before i need a recharge. But my engineers are working round the clock to make me go further! Not only this, but i can also make some wins at the tracks for you! Just give me a try! i can do it!

Actually, let's rewind a moment. i ...I mean "I" actually did try a little experiment; driving the i-MiEV around a 40 lap Arcade race at Autumn Ring Mini. Would the i-MiEV run out of "juice"? Turns out, it unfortunately did, even though I tried to spend as much time as possible coasting down Autumn Ring Mini's down hill area. Coasting and braking help recharge the battery a little bit at a time. Despite this, the battery actually did wear itself down to its last bar, and then guess what happens? The car barely moves! A pull into the pits will not magically solve this, either, one must exit the race, get a pretend recharge, and then start again with less laps to finish! Interesting. 

        

----------CHASSIS / HANDLING------------


Okay, i'm ready to get started on this next section. I mean....I'M ready. Okay, joke's wearing thin. Here we go. Even i have an eventual intolerance for bad jokes. I mean I! I I I I I I!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Grrr.. 

Speaking of jokes, many many gamers have or will pass the Mitsubishi i collection with maybe a joke "Has anybody seen my turtle?" or a complaint. "Why is this car in my game? Why did they waste premium disc space on an electric car?" Yada yada yada. Matter of fact, there is quite a good reason. These are actually great beginner's cars to learn the art of mid-engine/rear-drive. Certainly better than a Honda Beat or Mazda AZ-1. That's the conclusion I've made after driving both Mitsubishi i autos around several race tracks.

This is not just my opinion, this is a fact. The i cars (electric and gasoline-powered) both can suffer from a lot of the same malaises as those of much higher-horsepower MRs, yet have a stability that's not present with other miniature Kei cars. There's a reason why one of the current Seasonal events in GT5 happens to be based on driving an i-MiEV around Deep Forest, it's because these cars can actually be challenging to drive, especially if the driver is needing to race them hard.

The only difference, of course, between an i and an NSX, an MR2, or a Lotus Elise is in an i, you'll never be going much over 100 mph. Therefore, any difficulties you'll face driving an i (and there WILL be some handling difficulties, amazingly, trust me...) are easier to catch since the i is always going slower than typical mid-engine vehicles, which tend to be 2-seater sports cars. In an i, there's still an MR vehicle's habit of whip-snap oversteer (caused by entering corners too hot, and then getting into too much of a slide). There's also throttle-driven oversteer, even with such a lack of horsepower. There's the nervously light steering we often find in lighter cars like the Toyota MR2, Tommykairas, and Elises.

The front-end also mildly understeers on entry sometimes. The i's front tires are smaller than the rears (an effort to make the car's rear tires have better traction, since these cars are rear-drive) which means they're prone to overheating while cornering somewhat hard. The Mitsubishi i is even prone to a few spins if the driver is not concentrating hard enough. Surprise! The i actually takes concentration to drive! 

All of this is caused by that mid-engine (or motor) rear-drive layout. It's an unusual layout for a subcompact in this day and age, right? Most keis (or subcompacts) are front-drive...sometimes all-wheel drive. For whatever reason, Mitsubishi's choice of MR could be the most practical solution, for ergonomic's sake.   

So the i is tricky. Granted, it's easier to see all this behavior if the car is on radial (comfort, N, whatever) tires, but it's interesting that the i is not the boring, sleepy ride I'd been thinking it would be. I seriously thought I'd drive both versions of the i for a few Sunday Cup races, and that would be it. Instead, these cars captured my imagination. Not because of their odd gearing arrangements (or lack thereof), and not because one of them is electric, but because they are actually interesting to drive! Challenging to drive! And i always like a challenge. Ha ha.

      

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PROS-------------------------------------------------

1). The goofiness, the humorous side of Gran Turismo lives on. Thank you PD for including oddballs like these!

2). Fun to watch. I have a hard time deleting Mitsubishi i replays no matter how bad they are, because i love watching this ridiculous car do its thing. The i's spacious glass windows also allow us to watch our little driver steer and move around during B-spec and our very own replays, a new feature of GT5. Very cool for sure.

3). The Concept is not much different from the MiEV (so far as looks and presentation goes), which means Mitsubishi managed to take this car from "concept" to reality with only the smallest of visual changes. My point: yes this car is goofy as hell, but Mitsubishi did not compromise its looks once it was in production. Laugh all you want, but this dedication keeps the automotive market fresh.

4). Yes, they're mid-engine/rear-drive, and yes they oversteer (in GT5 anyways). Challenging and fun to drive. Driftable, even. :D

5). From the Sunday Cup to the World Compact races. From the Lightweight K Cup to some current Seasonal events, the Mitsubishi i twins have a surprisingly longer repertoire of possible wins than I'd first assumed. This is truer of the i Concept driven during A-spec, of course, since the Concept can accept several small power upgrades. 

6). The i-MiEV is also a Premium car, which means we get to be fascinated by its instrumentation arrangements. I still haven't figured out what (if anything) the little colors around the steering column are doing.

7). Driving along in the i-MiEV as its motors run quietly behind is neat.

8). PERFECT mid-engine (or motor) rear-drives for beginners.    


CONS---------------------------------------------

1). Slow....at all times.

2). Somewhat costly for a couple of novelties that won't have very long careers.

3). Limited power upgrades for the Concept. And the i-MiEV actually has no power-ups!

4). Ugly, somewhat useless cars, some would (and often do) say.

5). i-MiEV has no trasmission (or tranny upgrades) which means it eventually maxes out of revs down many straight sections. 83 mph is its max speed!  
 
6). i-MiEV can also run out of battery power after just a few laps. This power does NOT get replenished during pit stops.

7). i Concept: too loud! Hangover hurling loud!

8). i Concept: also a used car in GT5, which means it's incredibly hard to find if you're on a hunt for one. Trading one with somebody might become a possibility, but then that dude you're trading with might want your Redbull X2010 in return.

9). Tricky handling traits. Both cars are prone to some serious handling issues at times, despite the slowness. Those front tires are much smaller than the rears, and have a habit of losing grip (flaring red-hot) during hard cornering.  

10). Somewhat expensive cars, considering many autos of their subcompact class are so much cheaper. The i twins probably won't ultimately get much track time from most gamers, despite their priceyness.


Written & published: January 16, 2011-February 9, 2011

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