Extended Test: 2020 Mini Electric review

A spark of excitement

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Specifications

  • Model 63-reg Mini Electric Level 3
  • Price £33,900 OTR
  • Price with options £33,900 OTR
  • Colour Enigmatic Black metallic
  • Cost options fitted None
  • Drivetrain Synchronous electric motor plus 32.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack
  • Power output 181bhp
  • Torque 199 lb ft
  • Kerb weight (without driver/ with driver) 1,365kg / 1,440kg
  • Boot capacity 211 litres
  • Top speed 93mph
  • Acceleration 0-62mph: 7.3sec / 0-37mph: 3.9sec
  • Range (WLTP) 141 miles combined
  • Rated consumption (WLTP) 4.33 miles per kWh
  • Charging time 0-100%: 3hrs 30 mins (AC 11kW) / 0-80% 36 mins(DC 50kW)
  • CO2 emissions 0g/km
  • Road tax £0

Test details

  • Test period June 2020 – November 2020
  • Starting mileage 682 miles

Updates

July 5: Introducing the Mini Electric

In a way, the Mini Electric could be the ultimate iteration of the Alec Issigonis’ original design. The Mini was born out of the Suez oil crisis, which began in 1956. At the time, two thirds of Europe’s oil passed through the canal, so when Egypt seized control, oil supplies were limited. Issignonis’ solution was an affordable compact car with seats for four passengers and exceptional fuel economy (by the standards of the time). The first Mini rolled off the production line in 1959 and it became a sensation.

And now we have Mini’s first ever production electric car, which sips no oil at at all. Issigonis may have also been impressed with the fact that it produces no exhaust emissions, runs whisper quietly and feels extremely eager, thanks to the punch afforded by the instant torque of the electric motor (more on the way it drives in my next update).

This isn’t Mini’s first attempt at an electric car, mind you. Back in 2009 we had the Mini E, a rolling testbed vehicle for BMW – a toe in the water for its electric plans. Shortly after came another car for electric trials: the BMW ActiveE. Those in turn led to the BMW i3, which launched in 2013, but we haven’t had a proper electric Mini until now.

Officially, customer deliveries of the Mini Electric should have begun in March, though plans have been somewhat disturbed by the Covid-19 pandemic so there aren’t many on the roads yet. There are question marks over the breadth of the plug-in Mini’s appeal, too, as it doesn’t go very far per charge by modern electric car standards: the 32.6kWh battery pack, arranged in a T-shaped unit in the vehicle floor between the front seats and below the rear seats, gives the car a range of up to 145 miles on the official WLTP test.

Compare that to the likes of other electric cars in its class and it doesn’t look very impressive: the Renault Zoe has a 52kWh battery that gives a driving range of up to 245 miles; the Peugeot e-208 can muster up to 217 miles from its 50kWh pack.

And whether the Mini’s 145 miles per charge is actually possible to achieve in the real world is something I’ll be looking at in due course. Will I have to adjust my way of life to suit the Mini Electric’s range, or will it fit into my lifestyle. Time will tell.

Another thing I’ll be exploring carefully is the ability to charge it away from home. I am unable to install a wallbox at my house, despite having off-street parking (it’s complicated), which basically puts me in the same boat as the 25% of drivers nationally who park on the street (or up to 60% in London)*.

A trickle charge via a robust extension cable would probably be fine but part of the reason that a wallbox is difficult for me is that I’d still have to run cables across public land. I could potentially ignore the trip hazard issues and run an extension lead from the house to the car, but mention such an idea to an experience electric car owners and they’ll look at you as if you’re a wannabe arsonist. Fires can happen with extension cables or dodgy wiring, due to the amount of power an electric car draws over extended periods. For that reason I’m going to attempt to charge up only via public charging points during my time with the car. Can you own an EV without being able to charge at home? Let’s find out.

Charging aside, I think what Issigonis would most like about the Mini Electric is the way it drives. Writing that a Mini handles like a go-kart is such a cliché that no motoring journalist would dare do such a thing, but from my experience so far the Mini Electric has lost none of the brand’s characteristic appeal for keen drivers. A smaller battery means less weight, of course, and it feels rapid. Very rapid.

* Data from Spaced Out: Perspectives on parking policy by the RAC Foundation, July 2012

Mileage today 964 miles
Distance since start 272 miles
Average consumption 4.5 miles per kWh

As always with our extended tests, you can ask questions at any time via my Twitter account or the comments below.

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