20 June 2013
The electrically powered Mitsubishi i-MiEV recently went on sale in the UK and it’s now been joined by the Citroen C-Zero, and the Peugeot i0N tested here. They’re all fundamentally the same car, but the Japanese brand is selling the i-MiEV in the conventional way, while the two French companies are leasing theirs.
Peugeot is keen to stress that the i0N is a city car, and although it can be used for out-of-town excursions, that’s not what it’s really for. So, bearing in mind the speed limits imposed in urban areas, the 49Kw (66bhp) i0N is a useful performer. By normal standards the quoted figures aren’t startling: max speed 81mph, 0-30mph in 5.9 secs and 0-62mph in 15.9 secs, but with 180Nm (133lb/ft) available from zero rpm and the corresponding instant throttle response, the i0N actually feels quite nippy around town. The i0N’s maximum range is a quoted 93 miles, but about 60 miles is more realistic, which should be ample for most two-way trips around town, assuming you have access to a power socket at journey’s end.
My test drive wasn’t long – just a five-mile or so loop around the busy, potholed streets of West London, but bearing in mind that this isn’t a car that you’re ever likely to drive hard and fast, it was more than sufficient to form an opinion. The i0N with two people aboard and no luggage coped well with speed bumps and shoddy surfaces. It doesn’t deliver a magic carpet ride, but it feels stable and ride comfort is more than acceptable. The electrically-assisted power steering is light and responsive, and it’s very easy to manoeuvre while parking or in tight spaces.
It’s hard to pass judgement on these matters on brand new, low-mileage test cars, especially when you only driven them a few miles, but after a good poke about in the boot, under the tiny front bonnet and elsewhere I found no cause for concern. Moreover, the i0N scored very well in that time-honoured (but not necessarily accurate) gauge of how the door shut sounds. Although the i0N’s doors are thin and feel very light, they shut with a satisfying ‘thunk’ and so it scored a victory of sorts over an equally new Toyota Prius test car parked alongside which sounded much tinnier.
Peugeot’s i0N press material states that the car “has been designed to obtain 4 stars in the 2010-2011 Euro NCAP ratings, thanks to the design of its structure and its safety equipment: two front airbags, two chest airbags, two curtain airbags, two ISOFIX child seat mountings” and so on. Well those potential 4 stars should be in no doubt now as the essentially identical Mitsubishi i-MiEV has, at the time of writing, just became the first series production EV to be tested and earn a 4-star rating. ESP, EBFD and EBA also feature as standard.
Although you could fit a child between two adults on the rear bench seat, there are only four seatbelts so the car is technically a 4-seater. There’s generous space and comfort up front, and while the rear bench isn’t luxurious, there’s ample room for heads and shoulders, although knee and legroom could be a bit of a pinch depending on your size. The 163-litre boot is pretty small, the rear seatback doesn’t fold forward and some of the loadspace is occupied by a bag containing the charging cable complete with a black plastic regulator box about the size and weight of a house brick. That said, there’s still enough room in the boot for a few carrier bags.
The good news is that an empty-to-full battery charge currently costs around £1.70, which of course compares favourably with the cost of petrol or diesel required to do 93, or even 60 miles. With zero tailpipe emissions (or just 44g/km based on a UK-generated electricity carbon average) there’s nil road tax plus no emission zone, congestion or, in some cases, parking charges either. Unlike the £23,990 (inc. £5k government plug-in car grant) Mitsubishi i-MiEV, the Peugeot i0N (and Citroen C-Zero) can only be leased from certain Peugeot (or Citroen) dealers for 4yrs/40,000m for £415 per month (extendible to 8yrs at reduced cost). This includes full warranty cover and all servicing and maintenance, but doesn’t include VAT or insurance. To put that into perspective, a new 5-door Peugeot 107 can be leased for £90 per month plus VAT over 4yrs. A quick tap on the calculator reveals that the i0N would cost £23,904 (inc VAT) in leasing over 4yrs, whereas the 107 would cost £5,184, which would leave the 103g/km 107 driver with a generous £18,720 to spend on fuel, minus £80 for road tax, minus any congestion and parking charges. So, the i0N and its ilk are green, but they’re far from cheap.
Submitted: 14/03/2011 11:41:48
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