As a past owner of both a 1980’s MINI & the newer version circa 2004, I was really looking forward to driving the MINI electric. Thanks to lockdown, our original loan date in April was postponed & I finally got my hands on one in late September. I’m unashamedly a MINI fan & as I found out, the electric version does an awful of MINI things well.
For start it looks & feels, like a normal MINI. So factor in a plush, well thought out & funky cabin. With the 32.5 kWh battery located beneath the back seats & underneath the centre of the car, forming a T shape, you also get excellent handling & the bonus of a 0-62mph time of just 7.3 seconds from the 181bhp electric motor. It’s as close to a very fast dodgem car that I’ve encountered yet & is great fun both in town & on the motorway.
So that customers & the public alike can tell that this is an electric MINI, the range is offered with yellow trim panels & alloy wheels that replicate a three-pin plug socket. If you don’t want to shout your greenness to the world, don’t worry, because you can swap any of the electric detailing for other designs, save the models yellow electric badge & filled in grille.
For starters, there are three specs of electric MINI offered, which are simply called, Level 1,2 or 3. Including the £3000 government grant, the Level 1 can be bought for £24,900.
Each level adds slightly more kit, so for example, all models get SatNav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, climate & cruise control. Level 2 which cost’s an additional £2000, add’s a parking camera, an interior lights package, rear view camera, heated front seats & rear park distance control. Add another £4000 for Level 3 & this brings a touch more luxury, with a Harman Kardon stereo, a panoramic glass sunroof, a larger central infotainment screen, full leather upholstery & parking assist.
Let’s tackle the ‘ elephant in the room ‘ first though & that’s the MINI electric range. MINI claims it’s 229km, which equates to 145 miles. When the MINI was delivered to Company Car & Van, the instrumentation said it was fully charged, with a range of 105 miles. So how then can it claim to be 145 miles ? Well, the electric MINI comes with four drive modes; Sport, Mid, Green & Green+, which turns off the air-con. And a clever regeneration switch on the dashboard, which is located alongside the starter button.The regeneration switch alters the amount of regen on the go & what’s really good about it, is that you can set it to high even when you’re driving on the motorway & it doesn’t spoil the ride.
We drove to Liverpool for a weekend break, a distance of 33 miles door to door, of which 27 miles was on the motorway. I left the MINI in Green+ as I expected the battery range would drop quickly. But it didn’t, quite the opposite in fact.
We set off with a battery range of 105 miles & having driven 33 miles, expected the range to now show around 60-65 miles. But, it showed 85 miles. And, over the course of our week in the MINI, we found that by driving in Green or Green+ with the regen set at it’s highest, we were able to save around a third of every journey in range, which would account for the claimed 145 mile range that MINI say the electric version has. Clever, very clever.
Not having driven a 3-door MINI for sometime, I had forgotten that it’s not very big inside. We’ve also owned a MINI Countryman & that’s a proper family car, so the lack of space in the 3-door version is noticeable. To be fair, there’s decent enough room up front, but rear head & especially legroom, is poor. The boot will though, take four large holdalls & there’s a shelf, underneath which you can hide the two power cables, a home 3-pin & a 7kWh, which both fit neatly inside clever black bags.
Although I have a Rolec home charger, http://www.rolecserv.com/home-charging I took the opportunity to charge the MINI up at my local Tesco, where you can get 2 hours free when shopping plugged-in to their Podpoint chargers & at Cheshire Oaks Shopping Village, who offer a range of Chargemaster machines. A word of advice. Always download the charging companies App so that you can take advantage of free charging where it’s offered.
As a driver’s car, the electric MINI, is more fun to drive than most other cars. It’s easy to point into & out of a corner & comes with decent straight line power. It’s also very quiet & is comfortable in town. It’s also happy on the motorway & you can easily overtake slow moving traffic if required. All in all, as an electric version of a MINI, it’s hard to fault.
For business customers there’s no BIK, or CO2 emissions, so if you can live with the limited range – the Peugeot e-208 & Vauxhall Corsa-e will get you closer to a 200 mile range – then the only real competition is the decidedly retro Honda-e with around a 100 mile range Plainly, if you have a home charger & are lucky enough to have one at work too, range won’t be an issue. And if the range is still a problem, then it’s well to remember that the average daily commute by car in the UK is somewhere around 30 miles, although we’d stress that this is not is not a car for a 400 mile round trip.
Electric hasn’t dampened the fun. 4/5
Model: MINI Electric 2
Price: £26,900 (after govt. grant)
Engine: Single electric motor, 32.5kWh battery
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
0-62mph: 7.3 seconds
Top speed:93 mph
Economy. 145 miles