Most of you would already be aware that when it comes to EVs, the battery weight is down low and therefore so is the centre of gravity, AND traction is immediate so most EVs are quicker than their fossil-fueled counterparts – so what happens when you turn an already go-kart handling mini into an EV – Mini NZ thought we should find out.
It’s safe to say that the combination of my age and my British passport would mean that I would have an affinity with a Mini in any guise. After all, not only did I grow up around them (or them around me) but I have Mini stories galore – doesn’t everyone. In saying that, modern Mini’s are quite a fair bit removed from the ones that rolled off the assembly line at British Leyland.
Anyway, something that has remained true throughout the generations is the Mini’s ability to nip around the town and hug corners like a proverbial bear. And to my utmost delight, the MINI Electric 3-Door Hatch does all the above, and then some.
Let’s get one thing out of the way up front, and that’s range. The 32.6kWh Li-ion battery that sits under the compact cabin’s floor provides up to 233-kilometre range on a single charge according to Mini. Now despite this being WLTP numbers, it’s not massive, particularly when it consumes energy at 15.2kWh/100km (again WLTP).
But I want to put the above into perspective. I picked up the Mini e Hatch with 93% charge and forecasting a range of 155km. I drove it for around 100km and then topped it up for 30 mins on a free 50kW charger to 88% (128km) and returned it several days later with 37km of range left. So I actually drove 223km (or 260km total) taking just 30 mins out of my week to charge – believe me 260km of driving around the town is quite a lot, and I wasn’t switching off the niceties or nursing the throttle!
When it comes to oomph, the Mini electric hatch has plenty, with the drivetrain creating 135kW/270Nm. This results in a 0-100km/h acceleration time of just 7.3 seconds, which is actually on par with its fossil-fuelled counterpart. But, and this is important, the acceleration is instant so feels faster and it’s single geared so the pocket rocket doesn’t take a breath on the way up. There is a downside for some though, this clever system makes it very difficult to burn rubber.
So it’s quick, has ample ‘around town’ range and can be hooked up to a rapid charger for 80% range in 30 mins, which to be honest is virtually all you really need to know.
Being a small 2-door hatch, the cabin is let’s say, cosy, certainly for those in the rear. However, for those in the front, the Mini’s minimalist modern design makes great use of the space so even those of us with wider girths don’t feel cramped.
It still comes with a big round infotainment screen in the centre of the dash and small digital instrument cluster that moves with the adjustment of the steering wheel, however, both have added EV information, including range, power and regen charge usage and things like selectable changing times – it’s all pretty intuitive.
The most observant amongst you will notice that (to make room for the battery) the Mini electric sits a little higher than its petrol-driven sibling, but don’t think for one moment that means it’s any worse at handling, actually, quite the contrary. And range aside (which we’ve covered), the best part of driving the electric Mini is actually getting behind the wheel and driving it.
Throughout its multiple generations, the Mini Cooper has always been one of the most fun-to-drive vehicles on the road. Its compact size and taught suspension makes it a thrill in every corner – well the move to electric power only enhances that feel. On the open country roads (yes I did venture further than the Auckland City boundary line) the Mini e comes alive and leaves many lesser handling vehicles in its wake.
The acceleration is rapid, the steering is well weighted and the suspension is confidently firm (maybe a little too much so in the city). It features two regenerative-braking modes, one that allows the car to coast much like a non-EV car when you lift off the accelerator (so good for the motorway) and another that’s more aggressive and almost eliminates the need to touch the brake pedal, this ‘one pedal driving’ is ideal for both the city and the rural twisties alike.
The Mini electric hatch (for the most part) looks like a Cooper S, it just has a few ‘green’ highlights, and drives like it too. It’s a city-dwelling, go kart handling rascal that’s entertaining to pilot and easy on the environment.