Mitsubishi Eyes up Trendy City Car Buyers
By Andy Bannister
Mitsubishi i seeks well-heeled urbanite for beautiful relationship
One of the more unusual new car launches this summer here in the UK has been the introduction of the smallest ever Mitsubishi sold here, which comes with an equally titchy name – the i.
I’ve yet to see one on the road but I drive past my local dealer on the way to work each morning and one of these strange vehicles has been pushed to the edge of the highway to attract the attention of passers-by.
Stylistically the i is a kind of elongated egg with four doors and a wheel at each corner. If it resembles anything it is like a four-door version of the Smart car, and is presumably aimed at the same trendy city-based buyer wanting transport that turns heads.
The i has a tiny 660cc powerplant developing 57 horses. With an 80mph top speed and 0-60 of 15 seconds it isn’t up to much more than an urban commute, although personally I would feel a bit self conscious sitting in one in a traffic jam.
So far, so good. It is certainly a new departure for Mitsubishi here, slotting in size-wise below the Dutch-built Colt hatchback in the company’s slightly eccentric range. Mitsubishi’s best seller by far in the UK is the big L200 pick-up truck, sold mostly in double cab versions, often with ridiculously macho model names like Warrior and Raging Bull.
The i is small in all ways except its price tag – an eye-watering £9000 ($18,000 in US money). To put this into context, Hyundai is currently selling its little Amica Atlantic – admittedly a pretty miserable little device with no semblance of style – for under £5000 ($10,000).
Other rivals with a trendy image, such as the Fiat Panda and Toyota Aygo, are also roomier and much cheaper than the Mitsubishi.
At my local dealer the sticker price on the window of the display car has already come down to just under the £9,000 barrier but the mistake they are probably making is trying to sell it from a highway in an industrial part of the city. This car is crying out for a marketing tie-up with a fancy department store.
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