Mitsubishi's New Minicar: The Future of Small?

Mitsubishi launched its new "i" minicar this week in Japan. Using a newly developed platform with an original rear-midship layout that mounts the engine forward of the rear axle line, the new "i" series includes both 2WD and 4WD models, and continues the trend of small (but safe -- the press release boasts "excellent multidirectional impacy safety"), efficient autos that Japan has been producing for years but the US has only recently begun to embrace. The rear-mounted engine allows for increased interior space and comfort while keeping the efficiency of the small design intact. The i platform is also the basis for Mitsubishi’s recently-introduced Concept-CT series/parallel hybrid. The "i" uses a new 3-cylinder, 660cc turbocharged engine that delivers between 5.56 l/100km (42.3 mpg US) in the 4WD version and 5.43 l/100km (43.3 mpg US) in the 2WD model, with emissions (126 grams of CO2/km) that are 50% lower than the Japanese 2005 Low-Emission Vehicle requirements, making this a pretty clean, pretty efficient little number. No word on whether Mitsubishi will be chasing the Toyota Yaris for US small-car market share; if it did, it would cost between ¥1.3 million and ¥1.6 million; the equivalent of US$11,300 to US$14,000. ::Misubishi Motors Corporation via ::Green Car Congress