Mitsubishi is weighing into the New Zealand small car market with a new, $18,000 rear-engined five-door hatchback that is a runaway success in Japan.
Mitsubishi NZ has launched the i-car after,what it says was a “careful assessment of the small car market”.
“[The] i-car has doubled its sales targets in Japan,” says Mitsubishi NZ sales boss, Peter Wilkins. “With the recent popularity of small cars, continued uncertainty over fuel prices and increasing environmental awareness we believe the time is right to introduce i-car to New Zealand.”
The radically styled four seater houses a newly developed rear-mounted engine, located forward of and above the rear axle.
The compact turbocharged 660cc three-cylinder MIVEC engine uses a recyclable aluminium cylinder block and delivers 48kW at 6000rpm and 95Nm of peak torque at 3000rpm. It drives the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission.
Mitsubishi says the i-car can deliver fuel economy of 5.43 litre/100km and emissions that are up to 50 percent below current New Zealand and international standards. The i-car is 3395mm long, has a 2550mm wheelbase and rides on 15-inch wheels.
The position of the engine has allowed engineers to develop an advanced rear and frontal impact protection system, complemented by front driver and passenger airbags and three- point seatbelts.
ABS brakes with electronic brake distribution (EBD) are standard.
The i-car has an advanced key-less operating system that allows the user to open and lock the doors and start the engine without having to take the remote keycard out of pocket or handbag. As long as the key card is within 70cm of the driver’s door or boot hatch, either can be opened. The doors are re-locked at the push of a button on the door and the driver can start the vehicle with the ignition switch.
Mitsubishi lists the i-car at a recommended retail price of $17,990