What is it?
It’s a Mini that looks, goes, steers and handles a lot like the normal Cooper – and has even better weight distrubution.
However, the normal petrol engine and fuel tank have been replaced by a 201bhp electric motor and a 35kW/hr lithium ion battery (delivering a range of 100 to 120 miles).
To charge this fully takes 10 hours via a normal 13-amp household socket, or around half the time if you have access to 32-amp power.
Does it sound attractive? Don’t get your hopes up about buying one. You can’t. This is one of a fleet of 600 experimental Mini Es, built as an early part of BMW’s Project i, a plan to build the perfect “megacity” car in about four years’ time.
Mini Es are being run in six-month stints in a dozen major capitals across the world to investigate exactly what the new car needs. Forty have come here – half run by fleets, half by individuals.
If you’re one of the chosen you’ll have heard about it already. You’ve been chosen from 515 applicants, you’ll have consented to pay £330 a month, to drive at least 300 miles a month, and to be interviewed by all kinds of researchers about your findings. There’s even a panel of university psychologists who will want to know whether the car (principally because of short range) has done anything to change you or your habits.