As the car industry continues to wrestle with the ongoing power shift from petrol to electric, brands are taking different approaches on how to tempt us to make the switch.
Some like Porsche and Polestar are positioning their EVs as more hi-tech and otherworldly than comparable petrol equivalents, inside and out. You know these cars are cut from a different cloth long before you’ve hit the Start button.
Another way, of course, is to make the transition as seamless as possible by making your EV look just like your petrol model.
The MINI Electric certainly falls into this latter category.
The essence of a MINI has always felt ready-made for the electric era anyway, so why bother changing it? Nippy, small, urban, typically used for local trips and well-sized for squeezing in to parking spots – or available charging bays – the MINI formula fits easily into a vision of our EV future.
This MINI electric, launched last year and now updated with a few styling and interior upgrades, is basically an electric version of the Cooper S, and to the untrained eye only some jazzy wheels and yellow detailing would help you tell them apart.
The Electric is a little higher if anything but offers similar space, or lack thereof, inside. Cosiness is a MINI attribute after all, but a new touchscreen on this latest version helps keep it on track as a truly modern ride.
There’s also now the option of a limited-edition Electric Collection version which offers new colours and a multi-tone, colour-graded roof.
The instant torque of electric power suits the MINI too. All car brands bring hugely generalised owner stereotypes with them; MINI drivers, for example, often seem to be in a hurry to get where they’re going.
It could simply be that there’s something about driving one that makes you want to zip about, and with a 0-62mph time of seven seconds, this electric MINI is certainly no different.
One of the pleasures of a MINI is the low-down, go-karty feel, and much of that urgency and fun has been retained.
A quoted range of 145 miles could be a blocker for some, while others who only use it for shorter trips, or as a second car, might think it's plenty.
Find one of the fast 50kw chargers and you can go from 0-80 per cent charge in 36 minutes. The equivalent charge at the slowest and most common station would take well over three hours, though.
Starting at £26k MINI has done more than many to keep the price of its electric car as competitive to the petrol model as possible. It’s also introduced a system to simplify charging, where one ID card gives you access to multiple points, billed every month.
The onus is on making it as easy as possible to buy and run an electric car as the new era dawns. This year, 17 per cent of all MINIs are expected to be electric, up from 12 per cent in 2020.
This spring marks 20 years since the modern MINI, under BMW’s ownership, began production in the UK.
The poppy branding and overt cheekiness of the early years has matured into something subtler and more comfortable in its own skin. The Union Jack styling has been wisely downplayed, too, but remains on details like the rear lights.
Having sold 3 million cars since 2001, it's fair to say it doesn't need to shout as loud.
During that time, it was here in the UK that the Mini E trial began in 2009, a pilot scheme where 600 or so electrified MINIs, with no back seats and giant battery packs were given to customers to trial. The feedback helped feed into the BMW i3.
Electric motor and battery technology has moved on more than many anticipated in the years since.
So much so that MINI has declared it will be all-electric after 2030 and release its last petrol car in 2025. Whilst many other marques are making similar statements, with MINI it's a change you think will suit it very well.
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