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STYLING | 6 out of 10
It's cute enough on the outside
At about 145 inches long, the Mitsubishi i is one of the smallest vehicles on sale in the U.S. market—about the same length as a Toyota Yaris hatchback, longer than the Mini Cooper or Fiat 500 but shorter than the Nissan Leaf. With very little in the way of sculpting or accents between the front and rear wheels, it's undoubtedly tall and slab-sided—made even more ungainly from some angles by its very narrow (for the U.S. market) 62.4 inches of width.
You're likely to either see the new Mitsubishi i's styling as either cute, or a little too, well, cute. With its buglike, rounded features in front, and long windshield, transitioning into a decidedly utilitarian, boxy look in back, it effectively combines a little of the snub-nosed charisma of a Smart Fortwo or Fiat 500 with a microvan-like tail.
The U.S.-spec i is altogether about eight inches wider, compared to the original version sold in the Japanese and European markets, for practical reasons like bumper regulations, side airbags, and better highway stability, but we think the wider stance also gives the i a better look from most angles. One other concession to DOT approval we don't like nearly as much: the odd dual-wiper setup, with one of the wipers especially long and bent at an odd angle, replacing the otherwise elegant single-wiper setup that other markets get.
Inside, there's none of the design complexity or sci-fi futurism that's expressed in the cabin of the Leaf or Volt; instead, the i's interior appointments feel like those of a no-frills, affordable small car. It's almost drab, with the center console and shifter module mounted plainly on the floor, but a nicely contoured dash plus upscale two-tone looks in the SE model help keep it on the cheerful side.
The somewhat homely 2012 Mitsubishi i makes no bold style statement, but its design efficiency and simplicity earns points.