Eco and a worthwhile investment

 
Ryan Borroff
The LAST time I whizzed about in an EV here was in the scooter-like Renault Twizy, which, though great fun, only seats two. This Mia Electric car – a plug-in, zero emission car with a 80 mile range – from a new French manufacturer of the same name, has three seats or, in the longer L version, can seat four and is designed solely for urban transport.

The Mia rivals cars like the Citroen C-Zero and Renault Zoe, but is smaller. At only 287cm long it is significantly shorter than the diminutive Volkswagen Up, and only slightly longer than a Smart Fortwo. The driver is centrally located with two passengers behind in an arrowhead formation. The passengers can stretch their legs alongside the driver, which feels strangely intimate at first. Like the Twizy, the interior has a very spartan design – just a few basic controls indicate remaining charge, gear (“drive” or “reverse”) and speed. Some of the interior plastics feel cheap but it’s comfortable enough. And there is a charming simplicity to it that will appeal to people that can’t stand the usual visual static of an automotive interior. The view out the back isn’t great as the mirror is offset to see past the driver (otherwise you would get in the way of your own rear view mirror).

Upright and van-like, the Mia may be boxy but it’s not a bad way to go. Open the doors by operating the push-operated “flower” door button – the Mia logo, in fact – and then climb in from either side, made possible by that centrally located driver’s seat. We were driving the three-seater Mia. Driving it is a cinch, just switch it on and select the forward or reverse gear and off you go. It feels very nippy – it only weighs 765kg – and is surprisingly good fun. Whizzing along in near silence is satisfying although the ride can be a little too firm at times. We even took the car out on the motorway, an environment it’s not really designed for, where it faired surprisingly well but as the driver’s seat is in the centre, driving it takes some getting used to. And it doesn’t feel as speedy as some other electric vehicles, though it corners well enough.

Recharging time is as little as three hours, but a ten-minute fast charge is possible, which can add five miles to the range and get you home if you misjudge the amount of remaining charge. That should limit any psychological scourge of so-called range anxiety, assuming you find a charging point close by.

It is expensive compared to same-sized fossil-fuelled rivals. The VW Up starts at £7,995 and seats four people, but then it doesn’t have that innate press and go fun of an EV, or the sense that you are doing your bit and driving the very latest thing. It also doesn’t have the dent-resistant plastic panels of the Mia which could undoubtedly be a bonus in the City. Being able to enter and exit the car from either side is extremely convenient, particularly if you are parking in tight spaces or in narrow London streets.

All of which gives the Mia some street cred and it will undoubtedly attract attention around London’s busy streets. It isn’t for everyone and you will need to have a very specific lifestyle – or a second car – for it to suit. But there is a great deal of satisfaction to be had in never having to go anywhere near a petrol station. And the running costs will be low: Mia claims it costs just £1.30 per 100km to run, equivalent to 1.02 l/100km, which, if you regard car ownership as an expensive necessity as many people do, is an attractive proposition.

THE FACTS: MIA ELECTRIC

PRICE: £21,000
0-62MPH: N/A
TOP SPEED: 68mph
CO2 G/KM: 0g/km
MPG COMBINED: 10kWh/100km

THE VERDICT:

DESIGN ***
PERFORMANCE ***
PRACTICALITY ***
VALUE FOR MONEY ***