8
Mini’s EV comes up a little short on range but goes the distance in other key areas

Our Verdict

Mini Electric 2020 road test review - hero front

Mini’s new electric hatchback won’t break records on range or usability but has plenty of brand-typical zip and driver appeal. Isn’t bad value relative to other EVs, either

Steve Cropley Autocar
26 February 2020
Mini Electric 2020 UK

What is it?

When discussing the UK debut of the new Mini Electric, the company’s Oxford bosses see no case for modesty. “We believe this launch will be a tipping point for the adoption of electric cars in this country,” declares David George, head of the marque.

At the UK launch event in Oxfordshire, there was a strong consensus that George is right. The Mini’s arrival in battery form will be a bigger market event than any of the other two dozen electric debuts this year – and arguably the biggest since the Jaguar I-Pace two years ago.

So far, the omens for the car’s success are excellent. Two thousand UK customers have placed orders before driving the car, and most have gone for the most expensive model. Electric production is already running at 10% of total Mini volume – around 500 units a week. And so far, the plant is not suffering the component problems that are dogging other battery car makers.

The company has adopted a new way of selling its electric model. There are just three equipment levels, each with a fixed specification and price, but within each, there’s a choice of colours, trim and wheel styles and personalisation touches. Even the Level One car is well equipped (LED headlights, climate air-con, a new-design digital dashboard, rain-sensing wipers and automatic lights).

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

The top-spec car has a panoramic sunroof, a Harman Kardon hi-fi and a choice of five alloy wheel styles. Taking into account the current government electric car grant of £3500, prices start at £24,400 and rise to £30,400. Mini marketers initially expected the ‘sensible’ Level Two car to sell best but early adopters – 70% of whom have never owned a Mini before – are mostly choosing Level Three.

Inside, the digital screen may be all-new, and packed with information about power use and remaining range, but controls and switchgear are otherwise reassuringly similar to existing models.

The Mini Electric’s 181bhp, 199lb ft hybrid synchronous electric motor comes from the BMW i3s, but drives the front wheels instead of the rears. The notably compact motor and its power electronics are enclosed in a crate-like alloy frame designed to arrive at the production line as a sub-assembly that uses the same mountings as a conventional, internally combusted Mini engine.

The lithium ion battery (which has 28.9kWh of usable power, compared with closer to 50 for a Renault Zoe) is formed into a T-shape, with most of its mass in the fuel tank space under the rear seat and the rest running down the centre of the car. All up, a Mini Electric weighs 1326kg – 145kg more than a comparable Cooper – but its weight distribution is almost exactly 50:50.

What's it like?

On the road, the car is very Mini-like, except that the powertrain noise is almost imperceptible and the car feels especially ‘planted’.

Even though it rides fractionally higher than a standard car, the Mini Electric’s low-mounted battery gives it a centre of gravity that's a net 3cm lower. Despite its weight gain, the car can run a 0-62mph time of 7.3sec. That's only 0.4 slower than a Mini Cooper S.

You’d expect all of that torque to lead to wild wheelspin off the mark, especially in the wet, but the car has a brilliantly accurate and notably quick-acting traction control system that tames slip completely, keeping the Mini perfectly on line even when you’re deliberately provoking it. Few cars, regardless of price, steer as well or hold their line as accurately.

The Mini Electric (which has four driving modes) can be driven with confidence and verve anywhere, although the official 144-mile range soon dissolves to more like 110 miles if you really use the car. Mini people acknowledge that a short range is one of the car’s few points of serious criticism but unpack the usual argument about a bigger battery meaning greater cost and weight, both of which are inappropriate when most people drive far less than 50 miles a day.

Should I buy one?

In any case, buyers are unlikely to be deterred. The Mini Electric has huge charm, excellent quality and terrific driving characteristics (leaving aside a niggle about a lumpy ride on British back roads) and there is bound to be a strong continuing demand.

George is right: this car’s key role will be to sell the electric ideal to Britons who never previously considered it.

Mini Electric specification

Where Oxfordshire, UK Price £24,400 (after government grant) On sale now Engine Hybrid synchronous electric motor Power 181bhp Torque 199lb ft Gearbox 1-spd automatic Kerb weight 1326kg Top speed 93mph 0-62mph 7.3sec Range 144 miles (WLTP) CO2 0g/km Rivals Renault Zoe, Peugeot e-208, Volkswagen e-Up

Join the debate

Comments
14

bol

26 February 2020

I think this will probably be a success, but worry that a lot of people will be very disappointed with the range on a winter's day. I wouldn't be surprised if it dips below 100 miles in the cold, which is realistically 80 miles between stops. Not enough for me sadly. Another 25% range and it would be a lot more viable for many people. 

26 February 2020

Limited range will be crucial for city dwellers who have limited charging options. A Renault Zoe gets over double the range for the money, 

26 February 2020

And at £24.4k with 0-60 time of 7.3 not totally outrageous especially for those in the congestion zone. Like to see another version offered with higher battery capacity for £2k-£3k more, but that's for another day.

 

26 February 2020
Like to see another version offered with higher battery capacity for £2k-£3k more, but that's for another day.

 

[/quote]

And where would you put it, on the rear seat ? Theyre isnt the space. The other day you talk about will be in 5 years when battery tech packs more kwH into the same space.

26 February 2020
typos1 wrote:
xxxx wrote:

Like to see another version offered with higher battery capacity for £2k-£3k more, but that's for another day.

 

And where would you put it, on the rear seat ? Theyre isnt the space. The other day you talk about will be in 5 years when battery tech packs more kwH into the same space.

It's possible to fit a lot more battery capacity into a car this size. The Renault Zoe's footprint is only fractionally larger, and as Jeremy mentioned, it has nearly double the energy.

The problem is that the Mini is adapted from a combustion-engined platform rather than built as an EV from the ground up. Hence having a T-shaped battery pack designed to fit under the boot and where the transmission tunnel would normally be, rather than the skateboard shape of an i3 or Tesla (or the H-shape of a Rimac C_Two).

That being said, the Zoe ZE50 does also have one of the most energy-dense battery packs in production today. Assuming the Mini's using the same tech as the i3 120Ah, it'll be around 10% behind. Hopefully BMW/Samsung SDI may bring out a new generation cell next year.

27 February 2020
Up your ..... MUPPET HEAD!

26 February 2020
xxxx wrote:

And at £24.4k with 0-60 time of 7.3 not totally outrageous especially for those in the congestion zone. Like to see another version offered with higher battery capacity for £2k-£3k more, but that's for another day.

 

Once more a stunning, informative, fact laden, insightful and professional contribution from the master of...not much at all. Fool.

27 February 2020
Takeitslowly wrote:
xxxx wrote:

And at £24.4k with 0-60 time of 7.3 not totally outrageous especially for those in the congestion zone. Like to see another version offered with higher battery capacity for £2k-£3k more, but that's for another day.

 

Once more a stunning, informative, fact laden, insightful and professional contribution from the master of...not much at all. Fool.

One more stupid reply(because you're devoid of original thought I suppose). Find another site to annoy more intelligent people than yourself PLEASE!

26 February 2020

The range may not suit my needs (I do make 150 mile journeys, but often walk if a trip would be less than 2 miles), but range is likely to be solved with battery development. This issue I see is how does the non-solveable parts of an electric car compare to ICE, and I think it is favourable. The performance is strong low down where it is used a lot, but weak at higher speeds, particularly beyond the speed limit where it is not so much of a worry. Reliability is likely to be much better as there are far fewer moving parts, and will certainly have a positive effect on reducing servicing costs. A lower centre of gravity is a positive, but weight is not (although this should improve with development). The Mini is a big step in my eyes. It is a small electric car (even if all Minis are currently a bit bloated) that is not on stilts (a battery skateboard is fine if you are happy with SUV height, I'm not) and fun to drive. Sounds good.

26 February 2020

I was looking forward to this as a potential replacement for our current Cooper, but it won't work for us.  Even if the range would be fine for 90% of our usage, it's still not a viable choice. 

No mention of recharging times in the piece, which is particularly important given the limited range,

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week