Mini’s new electric hatchback won’t break records on range or usability but has plenty of brand-typical zip and driver appeal.
The all-electric MINI is every bit the original iconic MINI, but powered for the roads of tomorrow. It fuses legendary go-kart feeling, distinctive design, and premium quality with local emissions-free driving. It’s driven by a high-voltage, 96-cell, 32.6 kWh (gross capacity) battery pack that’s mounted under the floor. This gives it an extra low centre of gravity, which not only improves stability and handling – but makes taking every bend more fun than ever. It’s MINI at its most intense – and most evolved.
One of biggest pluses and minuses for the Mini Electric is that it has been built on the existing Mini architecture. This means that BMW Group knew exactly it was working with when modifying the ICE version, but it also means you get none of the advantages the i3 has in terms of being conceived and designed as an electric car.
Don’t look for an abundance of lightweight composites or a streamlined cabin taking advantage of the space savings the lack of a conventional powertrain brings. There are no obvious concessions to the new electric motors. Contrast this with the Honda e, incidentally, and you can see the difference. What it does mean, however, is there is a welcoming familiarity to the Mini Electric. You instantly feel at home, and that’s no bad thing.
What does strike you is the lack of noise as the Mini Electric pulls up or away. Yes, it does have a specially designed noise that it pumps out to let the unsuspecting pedestrian know of its presence, but it is so quiet you have to almost strain to hear it.
COMPELLING BY DESIGN
Dynamic lines and a crisp, clean style combine with the wide track and short overhangs to give the all-electric MINI its taut athletic presence. The distinctive headlights are complemented by the new eye-catching side scuttles that house LED indicators and the yellow ‘S’ logo. Striking Energetic Yellow accents give your MINI a highly individual appearance on the road. Optional door handles and other new design accents in sleek Piano Black lend an even more individual appearance. And the innovative range of unique of 16″-17″ alloy wheels rounds everything off in style.
Inside you get the sort of digital instrument cluster and central display that befits a full-EV. In these emerging days of mass-production electric cars, to entice traditionalists away from their familiarity with internal combustion engines, manufacturers, Mini included, are loading up the specs so you get flashy displays and optional extras as standard. This won’t always be the case, so enjoy it while it lasts.
The 5.5-inch colour digital dash displays various info, including current flow of energy and range, while navigation is handled on the bright and clear central 6.5-inch touchscreen, which is responsive and bright. A nice touch is that traffic updates link to the navigation automatically, updating the car’s range – this is another reason why the satnav, usually an optional extra on Minis, is standard on the Electric. If the car thinks you’re not going to make it to your destination, it will re-route you to public charging stations within range to top up.
The first-drive model, has additional upgrades including a Harmon Kardon sound system, head-up display, matrix LEDs, wireless phone charging in the central arm rest and a noticeably larger 8.8in version of that infotainment touchscreen, which could well be laying out extra for.
Another advantage of this is that the range is extended. The Mini Electric can handle a range of between 124 and 144 miles, according to the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure. Our test route was about 70 miles with a good amount of gunning away from lights and unmapped diversions down side streets, yet we got nowhere near reducing the Electric to half charge.
With that 145-mile range, it’s clear this Mini’s heart is sensibly in urban driving as opposed to long distance. This was highlighted at one stage when we pulled alongside a Tesla Model X. In comparison it was a hulking great thing. You couldn’t help but think the Mini Electric was far better suited for the city.
The Electric comes with both home and public charging cables as standard, for AC and DC charging. At a 50kW DC fast-charging station, the Mini can supposedly achieve an 80 per cent charge from zero in just 36 minutes. For 11kW AC charging this rises to 150 minutes. At home with a three-pin plug? You’re looking at 12 hours.
from 2,290,000 ฿