As the world faces new environmental, social and economic challenges, MINI tells us that that it has unveiled its first fully electric model – the MINI Electric.
It’s every inch a MINI to look at at the static launch, with the company promising performance close to the hot-hatch MINI Cooper S. It is temptingly entry-level pricing with an OTR Price of €37,765 less €10,000 (VRT Relief: €5,000 and SEAI Grant: €5,000), so a net of €27,765. With this price tag, demand is expected to be strong.
Back in 2009, the British manufacturer produced a small number of electric variants of the Mini hatch to test EV technology. It was called the Mini E, it was available through leasing in parts of the US and Europe. I drove it that year on the streets of Dublin and again I think on the streets of Los Angeles from the LA Auto Show 2009. The company did not continue with production at that time.
Over a decade later, orders are now being taken with first deliveries to start this month (March). The company told us that potential customers wishing to book a production slot can place a deposit with any MINI retailer.
The MINI Electric is based on the same body shell as the 3-Door Hatch, with a number of specific differences. An embossed MINI Electric logo appears on car’s side scuttles, as well as on the tailgate and front radiator grille.
The front grille features the hallmark hexagonal shape but is closed, as the car requires less cooling. This also contributes to excellent aerodynamics, as do the enclosed undercarriage, the rear apron and the special 17-inch MINI Electric Corona Spoke 2-tone wheels, which are optional.
The charging plug is located above the right-hand rear wheel, where the petrol filler would normally be. Boot volume can be compromised in electric cars but the MINI Electric retains the full MINI Hatch 211 litres, expanding to 731 litres when the rear backrests are folded down.
There will the three trim levels, beginning with the aforementioned standard trim, and the road price from €27,765 OTR (which includes SEAI grant €5,000 and VRT rebate €5,000). The mid-level offers a cloth/leather-look upholstery, additional exterior body colour and wheel options, as well as adding rear Park Distance Control (PDC), Rear Camera, Seat Heating, Driving Assistance Pack and Logo Projection. The mid-level style MINI Electric is available at €30,405 OTR (including SEAI grant and VRT
For customers looking for a premium driving experience, the top level offers the following on top of the mid-level trim: front PDC, Park Assist, Harmon Kardon sound system and Head-up Display. It also adds a Panoramic Sun Roof, Matrix LED’s and provides an upgrade to the 8.8” infotainment touch screen. Wireless phone charging is also included, in addition to MINI Yours Leather Lounge upholstery, a choice of five alloy wheels and six exterior body colours. The top style MINI Electric is available at €35,695 OTR (including SEAI grant and VRT rebate).
The battery pack has 12 modules of lithium-ion cells arranged in a T-shaped unit in the vehicle floor between the front seats and below the rear seats, providing a claimed battery capacity of 32.6 kWh.
The carmaker says that the motor is the latest, powerful version of the synchronous electric motor developed by the BMW Group and provides a maximum output of 184 HP and maximum torque of 270 Nm. As a result, Mini says that the car accelerates to 100km in just 7.3 seconds with top speed limited to 150 kms/h.
The power electronics are shielded by a reinforced bumper carrier and the motor support frame, while the high-voltage battery is protected by a solid base plate. With an unladen DIN weight of 1,365 kilograms, the MINI Electric is only 145kgs heavier than the current MINI Cooper S 3-Door with Automatic transmission. In accordance with new EU law, the car is fitted with acoustic pedestrian protection for low speed driving, with a distinctive sound created especially for the car generated via a speaker system.
The electric drive promises to take the trademark MINI go-kart driving feeling to new heights, thanks to new suspension technology designed for this model. With a centre of gravity that is at least 30 millimetres lower than in the MINI Cooper S and the
reduced weight over the front wheels thanks to the electric motor, close to perfect weight distribution helps the new MINI Electric achieve exceptional driving dynamics.
The MINI Electric has an innovative Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system which gives excellent traction at set-off and outstanding driving stability in brake energy recovery mode, as well as when accelerating out of tight bends.
The car offers as standard four MINI Driving Modes – selected via a switch located on the right-hand side of the toggle bar.
Sport mode has more direct steering and a more rapid power delivery. The MID setting has less aggressive steering while ‘Green’ mode features gentle accelerator actuation. In ‘Green+’ mode, some comfort functions such as air conditioning are limited or deactivated to save further power and increase range.
A toggle switch to the left of the start/stop toggle provides the choice of intense or low-level power regeneration– regardless of the MINI Driving Modes to allow the driver to choose the best setting for their own style of driving. This recharges the battery when the driver lifts off the accelerator, preserving energy, and acts as a braking force.
The new MINI Electric has a new digital dashboard with a 5.5-inch colour screen behind the steering wheel. Road speed is shown at the centre in figures with a peripheral scale band, as well as information on the charge level of the battery, the
selected MINI Driving Mode, the status of the driver assistance systems and check control messages.
In addition, details of the available range, current drive power, outside temperature, time and mileage are displayed, with traffic sign detection reports and directions from the navigation system.
If the vehicle is connected to a power socket or charging station, it’s possible to read off the time, outside temperature, available range and the charge status from the new dashboard. Charge completion time is also displayed and the colour of the panel changes depending on charge status.
The MINI Electric comes with both home and public charging cables as standard, designed for AC and DC charging using Type 2 and CCS Combo 2 plugs. Above the car socket, a charge level indicator displays orange for start of charge, pulsating yellow light for active charging and green for a fully charged battery. At a 50kW DC fast-charging station an 80 per cent charge is reached from zero in 35 minutes.
The new digital dashboard provides information on the current flow of energy and the range, as well as offering ways of increasing range by deactivating comfort functions or boosting energy regeneration. On the navigation map, a circle that indicates the car’s range can be shown.
When the route guidance starts, it displays the fastest and shortest route and also suggests a Green route involving the lowest level of power consumption.