You’ll never guess what powers the MINI Electric… Joking aside the addition of this battery powered, four-seat, three-door hatchback to the MINI range is timely. Designed for urban use the 3-door MINI hatch body form is still incredibly cute and brings a smile to your face. A 184hp electric motor powers the front wheels and this delivers classic Mini driving dynamics. Sadly the MINI Electric won’t be a ‘track-day’ favourite. Yes it has good initial acceleration with a 0-100km/h time of 7.5 seconds. As you’d expect from most electric vehicles the automatic MINI Electric slowly runs out of urge the faster you go. That said all legal speeds are achieve without fuss. MINI Electric’s top speed is 150km/h or 93mph – that reminds me of my old mini 1000. Needless to say you will rarely visit the outside lane on the autobahn.
The Oxford built MINI Electric car is not hard to spot – its looks like a MINI and that is cool in my book. It has unique three-pin plug inspired 17 inch alloy wheels and a seriously ugly solid grille although MINI says “The sleek, captivating front grille has been given a very modern interpretation, embodying both MINI history and the future“. The large bit of painted plastic is an eyesore but it is redeemed by the shouty yellow electric plug graphic that shows all other road users that you hold the moral high ground of EV ownership. Other splashes of yellow also shout I’m an electric MINI. In real world practical terms the four seater like the regular 3 door hatch is compromised to a great degree by its charm and coolness. The hatchback opens to reveal a modest 211 litre boot that with the rear seats down can hold ‘a quite practical’ 731 litres. Think of it as a two-seater and its great!
MINI’s mini driving range is not commuter friendly with 225km-233km quoted from a full charge. My test car from a full charge displayed a maximum range of just 165km. The battery pack is small at 28.9kWh net and this delivers the low range but on the upside it means the car will pay for itself sooner through low running costs and zero emissions while in use. As we know quoted figures are close to the best possible so realistically any journey or daily-use close to 200km will cause anxiety and as for cold weather use! you can drop that range further. A CCS Combo plug socket is standard so the car can take AC and DC charging. A fast charge at a 50kWh charger can deliver 80% battery capacity in 35 minutes. A similar amount of charge at a standard (slow 11kW) public charger takes 2.5 hours. At a 7kW home charger, five hours will fill it. The drivetrain comes with an 8 year warranty. Electricity consumption is quoted at 15.6-15.9kW per 100km. For the tiny size of car this consumption seems a bit high but then again it does have to haul its 32.6kW battery pack around. You can track via the ‘MINI Connected’ app your consumption and interact with the car in a number of ways like pre conditioning etc. via your smartphone.
The 3-door MINI Electric Hatch costs from €27,467 (net) for the Level 1 model. Standard kit includes: MINI Navigation including Apple Car Play, MINI Connected and public charging locations, digital cockpit (displays), cruise control and dual zone air conditioning. Level 2 costs from €30,115 (net) and adds some notable goodies like: the driving assistant pack (speed limit and traffic sign information, city collision mitigation for pedestrians, high beam assistance, rear view park assist camera, comfort access, heated seats, rear parking distance control and part leatherette interior. Level 3 (our test car) costs from €35,445. It gets greater customisation options and all the toys: ‘navigation plus’ and its larger touch screen, front and rear parking distance control; includes park assist so the car can park itself, panoramic sunroof, HUD head up display, upgraded speakers and a full leather interior.
MINI electric is flying the flag for the UK… literally. The Union flag (Union Jack if its on a ship) features throughout the MINI Electric. The rear lights, the dashboard and even the seat head restraints feature interpretations of the flag. We first saw the Union rear lights with the introduction of LED headlight on the Cooper S model and sadly for those not fans of flag waving you cannot opt out of these. You can changed the dash illumination to colourise the flag – I chose green.
The MINI Electric is a hoot to drive and has oodles of personality. There is two stage selectable braking regeneration that allows near one pedal driving (less effective when the battery has lots of charge). There are selectable drive modes with Mid the default, Sport uses most electricity while Green and Green+ use least. About the city MINI electric is quiet and good fun to use. On faster roads the cabin is not overly quiet with road and wind noise similar to other engined cars. The fuel flap is on the driver’s or off side and while this is perfect for LHD cars in Europe when charging on street – in Ireland it means the cable needs to be pulled around the rear of the car and it then protrudes a little on the roadway when connected – so cyclists watch out!
Premium low range EVs are perfect for urban use and pretty cool too – just buy one fully informed and with your eyes wide open.