- Enjoyable to drive
- Multitude of features
- High performing
- Fast charging
In the same way as the original MINI drove a change in our lives over 60 years ago, its modern electric equivalent might just make us re-evaluate our motoring lives today.
While some brands are locked in stretching the range, padding up features and weight, and asking a lot of money for what is essentially very simple technology, the MINI Electric takes a different approach with a greater emphasis on driving enjoyment in the 5-model range.
Equipment and Technology
Depending on the power source, the Oxford-built MINI Electric Shadow Edition can be recharged in 28 mins on a rapid box or a little under five hours on a domestic point.
Visibility was very good all round, while the sensors and camera also worked well to alert you whilst parking. Bright lights and effective wipers at the front and rear also did a good job.
The steering wheel spokes carried a lot of secondary switches for cruise control and the infotainment system, and these worked well every time.
In front of the driver is a display for power metering and remaining battery charge which are split by a variety of alerts and displays for road speed, remaining miles, and temperature.
The dashboard is dominated by the 10-inch circular infotainment display for navigation, entertainment, telephone and personalised settings. The display is very distinctive, taking its design cue from the first of MINI's dashboards, holding just speed and fluid level readouts.
Overall, the infotainment display was all beautifully clear and easy to read.
Below this very big instrument display are various climate and heating controls, along with switches for added features, including the Sport and Green drive modes and an on/off power ignition switch.
The air conditioning worked well, and was helped by powered side front windows. Our car had a powered tilt or retract sunroof ahead of a fixed glass panel, making it look and feel very airy.
It is also worth mentioning the inductive charging station for a phone set into the armrest, and there were several USB points in the cabin.
Powertrain and Performance
The motor is where you would normally find a petrol unit in a traditional car, but with the MINI Electric, the battery lies low under the rear passenger seat and cabin floor, making it good for handling.
The 33kWh battery and 135kW motor gives the car a snappy acceleration when kick-down is used in Sport mode, and it can embarrass many petrol hot hatches as a result.
The very smooth and swift power delivery is impressive whether in Sport or Green modes, and the car’s steering is highly responsive. The brakes easily contain that performance and with the high recuperative setting, you can essentially drive the MINI Electric on one pedal alone without needing to touch the brake pedal.
MINI has traditionally had an agile feel and the Electric is no different, responding well to twisting roads and swiftly overtaking when needed.
It performs much better than other MINI models I have driven, as it grabs the ground through tight turns and slows with total control.
The only real engine noise was a hum from the motor when running, with road rumbles being very low and almost no wind noise intruding unless the roof or windows were open.
It was lively when required and using the driving aids it could also be economical. A full charge gave around 125 miles, making it great for a city or commuting car which may need recharging two or three times a week.
Design and Practicality
The MINI Electric had a series of handy storage spots like trays, cup holders, seat back pockets and small bins.
The wide opening doors gave good access to the front seats and there was plenty of room for passengers. There were manual controls for reach, recline and height, excellent well shaped cushions and easily movable headrests.
Boot space was suitable and improved a lot when the rear seats were folded down. The boot floor hid the compartment for the cables and handy tyre repair kit, too.
While the MINI Electric does not have the range of some rivals, it is a realistic proposition for many and better priced than less stylish challengers.
More importantly, it is worth remembering that a destination is not as important as the fun you have getting there, and MINI Electric is miles better than many others in this department.