MINI Electric Level 2 review.
For – cute, high quality, dynamic performance.
Against – too pricey, useless on highway, narrow utility.
Highway cruising range 68% of claimed availability.
“Over rolling hills and country lanes I did one trip of 34 miles, but it used only 28 miles from the availability measure. That’s a free lunch”
“Citroen Ami. Range, 45 miles, top speed 30 mph, price maybe £4,000. Minimalist heaven, if only they could rise the top speed to 45 mph, and make sure it could double as a golf cart”
You won’t be surprised to learn the electric MINI, which carries the Cooper S label too, accelerates like a rocket ship, steers with precision, and clings to the road as a politician to his seat during a recount.
Its range on the highway wasn’t very good, but that doesn’t matter because this is essentially a short-range car. It performed miracles on town and country roads, occasionally using less miles than were offered on the availability readout, a tribute to a terrific regenerative braking system.
And of course, after all these years it still looks loveable and cute.
The interior was impressive and high quality, retaining many of the switches Mini lovers have become used to, and the big, round traditional-centrally sited dial, which now shows sat nav and media stuff, makes the original designers look as though were related to Tesla. The ride was very harsh and there was lots of road noise. The rear seats are an empty gesture. It didn’t like demisting on cold winter mornings, knocking 5 miles off the range availability. And above all, this version costs close to £30,000 before the government subsidy.
On the highway, the MINI was a poor performer in terms of range, although not as bad as the Polestar 2 which costs almost twice as much. On my highway test route it gave a range of 68% of the availability on offer. So that works out at just under 70 miles given the average amount of miles I was able to squeeze into the battery. That ranged from 91 to 106 miles. The car arrived with 120 miles available and never got close to the claimed maximum capacity of 145 miles through my ChargePoint plug. The regenerative braking was terrific, making it easy to drive because in normal, emergency-free driving you won’t need to use the brakes at all. That’s got to be a plus when servicing time comes around. Over rolling hills and country lanes I did one trip of an actual 34 miles, but it used only 28 miles from the availability measure. That’s a free lunch.
Born out of Suez
The original MINI was born out of the Suez crisis oil shortage in the 1950s and the demand for affordable motoring. The first cars rolled off the line at Oxford in the summer of 1959 and so began a long-running global success story.
The MINI Electric is based on the same body shell as the 3-Door hatch. An embossed MINI Electric logo appears on the car’s side scuttles, as well as on the tailgate and front radiator grille. The 32.6 kWh battery pack is T-shaped and sits under the front and rear seats. EU law insists on a noise generated during low speed driving to protect people and animals.
There are three trim levels. Standard Navigation includes the 6.5-inch touchscreen in the central instrument panel. This allows MINI Online and Apple CarPlay, as well as offering Real Time Traffic Updates which updates the navigation system automatically and displays details of battery charge status and range. Dual zone automatic air conditioning with separate ventilation and temperature control for the driver and front passenger are standard. Lease price start at £299. (£4,000 up front) The base price is £24,900, after the government plug-in car grant.
The mid-level 2 has cloth/leather upholstery as well rear Park Distance Control, Rear Camera, Seat Heating, and Driving Assistance Pack. That costs £26,900 including the grant. The top level offers stuff like a Harmon Kardon sound system, Head-up Display, Sun-Roof, Matrix LED’s and provides an upgrade to the 8.8” infotainment touch screen. Price £30,900 before the grant.
What to buy?
The most important number in my thoughts about buying an electric MINI is the price. I can’t bring myself to recommend anyone buying a little car, however attractive, fast or technically impressive as this, which costs so much money. It is useless on the highway, and that’s fine, and magnificent around town, but why pay this much for a car that is really only good for the school run, shopping and fairly short commutes. That task sheet doesn’t demand high quality or amazing performance. A direct competitor is the Honda e. Range about 100 miles. Super quality, and cuter than the proverbial. Price, circa £30,000. That makes no sense to me either, although of course if you have loadsamoney, cars like these might be a tempting indulgence. It won’t be long though until the Citroen Ami hits the market. Range, 45 miles, top speed 30 mph, price maybe £4,000. Sounds like minimalist heaven, if only they could rise the top speed to say 45 mph, and make sure it could double up as a golf cart.
(*highway cruising at real world indicated 80 mph)