The MINI means an awful lot to many motorists. For drivers of a certain age, the petrol MINI of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s would have been their first car and despite the fact that it was tiny and basic, it is still thought of with great affection. The later 2001 incarnation of the MINI, under the BMW brand, had a hard act to follow. However, the designers pulled it off, with a car that was bigger, more practical and stylish, but crucially retained that MINI sense of fun.
Fast forward to 2020 and the MINI has had to reinvent itself again, this time to reflect the surge in electric vehicle demand. So how does the 2022 version of the MINI Electric shape up when compared to other city EV’s in this very competitive sector? Also, just as importantly, does it retain that sense fun and flair that makes the little car such an icon?
- A dynamic and engaging drive
- Quality touches throughout
- Great to look at
- Plenty of small car power
- Lack of range
- Limited rear and boot space
- Too many non standard safety and assistance features
MINI has deviated very little from its winning exterior design that is now over 21 years old. This was perhaps the first model to achieve the trick of making what is a quite sizeable small car look compact and the MINI Electric retains the classic shape. To most eyes the MINI looks great and the latest electric version has lots of clever styling touches and uses of two tone colour, allowing the fun, sporty image to be retained.
You have to look quite hard to notice any differences on the electric model, such as yellow branding on the grille, wing mirrors and rear. One nice touch is a wheel cover option which has a modern design that on closer inspection looks like a three pin plug.
If you like new MINI’s and thousands in Ireland do, there is nothing not to like here.
The classic MINI qualities are retained inside the cabin. The Piano Black interior has a feel of quality and modernity. There are lots of ovals and circular shapes and it all comes together to produce a comfortable and refined place to be.
What comes inside depends on the trim level chosen, but all come with a 5.5-inch colour digital dashboard display and an 8.8” infotainment touch screen. It all connects seamlessly with your phone, whether it be via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
MINIs of all eras have never been renowned for their rear leg room and the electric model is no different. It is just about OK for adults on short journeys, but not much more. The MINI shape also does not allow much generosity when it comes to boot space as the restricted 211 litres proves. However, it does offer the flexibility of 60:40 rear folding seats, boosting carrying capacity to a respectable 731 litres with both down.
Overall the MINI electric delivers on style, but struggles on space. However, rear seat and boot space practicality are unlikely to be top of the desired feature list for potential buyers.
Nippy performance has always been a MINI quality and electric power allows this model to deliver even more in this area. The 32.6 kWh battery and single electric motor deliver enough punch to produce 184hp. This translates to 270 Nm of torque and a 0 to 100km/h time of 7.3 seconds with a top speed of 150kmh. These performance figures, although not outstanding for an electric car, make it ideal an urban run around and also mean it can comfortably cruise on motorways.
However, even the official, WLTP industry standard calculation only gives the MINI Electric a range of 235 – 270km, which will be even lower in real world driving. This means effective range is likely to around 200km, even in the greenest driving mode, so you never want to stray too far from a convenient charging point.
When it comes to charging the MINI Electric, the fastest 50 kW DC charger will do 0-80% charge in 36 minutes and a 7.4 kW AC home charger will do a full charge in an impressive 4 hours and 20 minutes.
As with any electric model, when it comes to meaningful data on reliability it is still early days. The MINI Electric is based on the proven MINI platform and uses a solid BMW developed motor, so major problems would not be expected. MINI also generally does fairly well in customer satisfaction surveys, so the chances are that the MINI electric will not let you down.
Slightly faster charging against slightly less range makes the running costs of most small electric cars similar. They will definitely be more economical than petrol in the long term, although if you are going on long trips in this MINI the price of the cups of coffee may add up as you wait at the charging points.
The dealer warranty is only two years, but there is an eight year battery warranty and a service network with a reasonable geographical spread.
One other important consideration about MINIs is that they tend to have higher resale values than their competitors, so are not so prone to depreciation.
The MINI Electric comes on a proven well refined chassis and with a suspension set-up that is well tuned to Irish road conditions. Replacing the petrol engine with battery electric power takes nothing away from the dynamic drive that the MINI delivers, in fact with the weight of the battery actually lowering the centre of gravity, it actually makes it even better.
The steering is precise and gives you just the right amount of road engagement. It can also be adjusted with different driving modes. It means the MINI Electric feels agile, no matter what type of road you are on, or conditions you are faced with. It also has a Dynamic Stability Control system working to improve traction, while the suspension irons out bumpy roads surprisingly well for a small car, making the ride quiet and comfortable.
In short the makers have managed to retain and even improve on that MINI sense of fun and driving character, with electric power actually enhancing its qualities.
Euro NCAP has yet to test and star rate the MINI Electric, but as a rough guide the normal MINI scored 4 out of 5 when last tested in 2014. No doubt some structural improvements have been made since.
As far as safety features go, rather than treat these as standard, MINI has based what you get on options and trims levels. For example, emergency brake assist appears not to be standard on the basic model and while you can get a range of advanced driver assistance systems, they do come at a price, while other manufacturers make them standard. Spend any time trying to configure your dream MINI online and you do get the impression that this car is more about colours combinations and graphics rather than safety technology.
- Running Costs
Rather than represent any major innovation in small electric city-car design, the MINI Electric is simply a MINI with a battery and an electric motor. The makers have taken the popular MINI package and added an electric powertrain and the result is a stylish compact car that drives extremely well, is comfortable to be in and has lots of quality touches. Also as a standard shape MINI, it is never going to score high on space and practicality.
While in terms of driving performance the car performs well, the big question mark hanging over the MINI electric is its range. 200 to a very optimistic 250km in normal driving conditions is simply not enough by today’s standards and really does place limits on potential buyers.
If you are in the market for a second car, or a strict city run around, then at a starting price of €35,715 the MINI is not bad value for such small car quality. It is nice to look at and great to drive, so providing you have convenient charging point access, it does allow drivers to have their MINI fun without the CO2 emissions.