2020 MINI Electric Hatchback Review
We drive the new MINI Electric.
The MINI swaps its engine for electric power, but loses none of its charm or driving fun in the process.
Unless you look very closely, you’d hardly spot that this is the MINI Electric. That similarity to the established MINI design is bound to be a draw for many people looking to switch to an electric car. It uses the same three-door body style as any other MINI Hatch and has only minor changes. The yellow ‘E’ badging denotes its battery power, a 32.6kWh item that sits within the floor of the car without impacting on passenger space. It is capable of offering a range of up to 233 kilometres on a single charge and uses a DC rapid charger to enable charging at up to 50kW, which is enough to recharge the battery to 80 per cent in 35 minutes.
The boot volume remains the same as in other three-door MINIs, at 211 litres, which we’ll admit isn’t huge, but you can tilt the rear seats forward to add more carrying capacity and larger items. You get all the same design and look inside, too, with only minor changes. One being the 5.5-inch digital instrument display in front of the driver - and the option of a head-up display.
How is it to drive?
The combination of the MINI’s relatively small size and low driving position, added to the punchy 184hp from the electric motor on the front axle, gives the Electric rapid acceleration at most speeds. It zips away from a standstill smoothly and in near-silence - other than the futuristic sound that is piped into the car. One of the distinguishing features of modern MINIs is how they drive, and the MINI Electric is no different, with handling that is aided by the positioning of its extra 225kg of battery weight low down in the car.
There is just the right amount of weight to the steering, and the suspension setup is suited to Irish roads where the surfaces aren’t always the best. Speed bumps are comfortably soaked up and don’t reverberate through the cabin as in other small cars. It performs at its best (and most engaging) when darting around city streets, but it is equally as composed at higher speeds on the motorway. When you do lift off the accelerator, there is a hefty amount of energy recuperation that slows the car down, and this can take getting used to. But when you’re familiar with it, driving the MINI Electric in a one-pedal fashion is feasible for a lot of the time.
When is it coming to Ireland?
The MINI Electric has recently gone on sale in Ireland and is available to order in three specification grades, ranging from Level 1 to Level 3. All versions get the same battery and electric motor, so it’s more a case of deciding which version suits your budget and desire for equipment.
Any juicy technology?
By modern electric car standards there isn’t a great deal of ‘new’ tech onboard the MINI Electric. You won’t find anything inside that isn’t available elsewhere in the MINI range; it’s the fact that it’s electric that makes this stand out. The 233-kilometre range is beaten by many other similarly sized cars, but if you’re an urban or city dweller, you may well get more from it with more frequent shorter journeys.
The MINI Electric’s numbers don’t suggest that it makes for an overly appealing electric car, yet spending time behind the wheel and living with it reveals that it is one of the most refined packages within its segment at the moment.