With a history that dates back over six decades and a list of accolades and awards that far exceed the vehicle’s height (even the latest versions), there’s not much that the incredibly popular, iconic Mini hasn’t seen. It’s won rally’s, broken records and even been the main cast member in one of (if not the) best heist movies of all time. Well now it’s gone fully electric and Mini New Zealand un-plugged it to let us have a play.
When I think of Mini I can’t help but conjure up images of smiling faces and go-kart handling. It’s low to the ground, compact (well the Cooper S is) and has a truly playful nature. Then I think of EVs. Bland Uberesk vehicles that mull around the city hunting there next electric hit – while their owners share value attention between the road ahead and the all-important range meter. Seriously, these two polar opposites shouldn’t be merged.
Well, in fact, they should and they have. The new Mini Electric hatch looks like a Mini. It the same size, same cute face, same low to the ground style and – well I think you get the picture. However, it also comes with a variety of EVisms. There is a wealth of bright yellows all over the compact vehicle’s body, from a strip on the grille and door mirror caps to the badging and the unique (air-stealthy) wheels.
For the more observant, (and those like me that are lower to the ground) there isn’t an exhaust either and that’s due to it being fully-electric. I was half expecting there to be extra luggage space under the bonnet but that’s where Mini has placed the electric motor (I guess there was nowhere else to put it in a vehicle this size). Anywho, although no gasses are emitted, the motor does produce 135kW and 270Nm which in a car that weighs 1,365kg gets you from 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds. It also boasts a 32.6 kWh lithium-ion battery that’s good for 233km range on a single charge.
I picked my white and yellow model up at Auckland City Mini where a drive route had been pre-planned for me by Pead PR. It would include a city traffic element, a plug-in component and lunch while it charged – apparently, it takes just 36 minutes to charge up to 80 per cent of the vehicle’s full range with a 50kW fast charger. The EV Mini displayed over 170km range on the instrument cluster so I immediately tore up the route plan and headed out of town for some countryside driving fun, after all, lunch is for wimps – shhh growling stomach.
Actually, after the futuristic sound on switch on, I could hear my stomach protesting as there were no engine sounds – dammit. The cabin is as compact as the Mini’s petrol-engined sibling and that’s in part due to a T-shaped battery configuration. The big, round, Mini infotainment screen remains, complete with the usual apps, however, the EV model offers some additional EV features such as driving stars (for anticipating braking requirements) and acceleration stars for not doing what a Mini does best and racing off the line – the 7.3 seconds feels faster thanks to instant torque and 1-speed auto transmission.
The Mini EV comes with two levels of brake energy recovery (basically it applies the brakes when you’re off the accelerator), low or intense are the levels and are applied via a switch next to the ignition, managed well, you barely have to touch the actual brake pedal (I can hear my mechanic weeping) and it also helps you take corners with a little more confidence. Not that you need it, as it’s STILL A MINI.
Switching the driving modes from Green +, that allows a lot of play before the accelerator take effect, to Green (less play), Mid and up to Sport, allows you to strike the perfect Mini mood to suit your environment – I spent the majority of the ride in Sport. It’s rapid, tight in corners and oh so Mini playful – read electric go-kart here.
Other Mini EV smarts include an Air-conditioning system that uses 75-per cent less energy than a normal system and for those that need to know, uses a CCS Type 2 plug.
My threeish-hour tour of North-West Auckland includes tight bends, long straights, plenty of hard acceleration and a little bit of motorway driving to cool down, the Mini EV handled it all just like a Mini should, in fact, aside from the energy-recovery braking I wouldn’t have spotted the difference – and I guess that’s the point.
It’s still Mini, it’s still a go-kart, it’s just EV-olved.
Head down to Mini New Zealand and check it out – after all, it’s a deal at only $59,990 MRLP