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Think Mitsubishi’s iMiEV is boring and slow? Look at this.

Sections: Powertrain

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Mitsubishi's iMiEV Evolution race car

The Mitsubishi iMiEV Evolution race car was purpose-built for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and finished eighth out of more than 100 finishers in the 2012 event. (Mitsubishi photo courtesy Autocar.co.uk.)

Mitsubishi’s effort at conquering the electric vehicle (EV) market, the iMiEV, has been  criticized by some as the oddball of the latest generation of EVs, a slow and boring transportation appliance that might not even do the mundane job of commuting as well as its competitors. If you shared that assessment and wrote the iMiEV off as a waste of resources, consider that it provides the basis for a car that can pull off a top-10 Pikes Peak Hill Climb finish.

According to the blokes at Autocar, he iMiEV Evolution racer finished eighth out of 128 finishers at the 2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, an event that takes competing cars from a starting altitude just shy of 10,000 feet above sea level to a finish line at more than 14,000 feet above sea level after 156 turns packed into just 12.42 miles.

The iMiEV Evolution was purpose-built for the hill climb and features three electric motors, each just like the one that powers the iMiEV you can buy at a Mitsubishi dealer today. Of course, they’re tuned for racing. With two of the motors powering the rear wheels and one splitting its power between the front wheels, the sub-1,500-lb. race car reaches 60 mph from a dead stop in just 3.8 seconds. True to form for any electric car, the full twist of its torque is available from the first press of the accelerator. Only unlike the iMiEV consumers get to buy, this one pounds out a 443 lb-ft gob of the stuff.

Thrown into a corner, the iMiEV Evolution can produce 1.3g of lateral grip– a figure supercars have a hard time beating.

Auto manufacturers often use racing programs such as the iMiEV Evolution to develop new technologies for their street cars. Autocar theorized the iMiEV Evolution may preview some developments of a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the next-generation Lancer Evolution performance sedan. For my money, I’d rather see the bulk of what is learned in the iMiEV Evolution poured back into the pedestrian iMiEV you and I can buy.

Only by giving that car more range, more power, a lower MSRP, and a more satisfying driving experience will it stand a chance at gaining acceptance as a legit, consideration-worthy EV for those seeking a frugal commuter that doesn’t make them the butt of office jokes. In that regard, enhancing the iMiEV’s appearance with some of the sleek looks of its Evolution kin would be a huge victory in itself.

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