Tuesday, September 6, 2022
Reviews
Alex Lowe

Car Review – Mini Electric, first impressions

For the past few days, I have had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the brand new Mini Electric, in the entry level 'Level 2" model. This particular car costs £31,000 in the UK and Mini has made the online configurator being incredibly easy to use, with simple choices. All you need to do is choose the alloys, colour and contrasting colour. If you wish to add some options, a small selection is available.

Stats

Before we get into the driving experience, we'll go over the specs, range and prices. The Mini E costs from £31,000 for the Level 2 model, which gets you grey cloth seats, piano black surfaces, ambient lighting, 8.8-inch central display with Apple CarPlay and LED lights front and back.

Jumping up to the Level 3 costs £34,500 and adds leather seats, 'MINI Yours' floor mats and a sports leather steering wheel.

Range is a claimed 145 miles, but in our test car the range gauge was hovering around 90-100 miles. After 40 miles, the battery was at 90%. Our test route was a mixed bag of motorway, country lanes and A roads, however. Power comes from a 32.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which runs the 184 bhp electric motor, driving the front wheels. The 0-60mph time is 7.1 seconds, which feels brisk considering the weight of the car. Most electric cars feel fast, but the Mini Electric feels faster than the quoted 0-60mph time.

Top speed is 93mph, but being electric the Mini gets up to 70mph very quickly, but this car is more suited driving around town.

Driving Experience

The Mini Electric is actually a Cooper S, and as we mentioned in the stats section, it is positively fast. It drives like a hot hatch too, having driven a Vauxhall Corsa E recently, which felt fast but it has nothing on the Mini Electric, despite being a similar price.

The limited range does somewhat hinder it to town use, but we did take it on the motorway for around 15 miles. However, thanks to the very good regenerative braking system, the one pedal driving experience was truly remarkable in this EV. Road noise is a little bit of an issue here, with most of the sound coming from the front of the car. Wind noise is pretty minimal, but a little disappointing as the rest of the car feels positively high quality.

The seats are very comfortable, with a pull out support for your thighs which can be useful for longer journeys. The drivers display is attached to the steering column, which means wherever you adjust it to, you'll never block the screen. On our car, cruise control was fitted, which is simple to use - but sadly isn't adaptive.

Charging

The Mini Electric supports Type 2 and CCS charging. DC fast charging can take 36 minutes to charge up from 0-80%. In my use of the car, a top of charge using ChargePoint was incredibly simple and in just ten minutes, it had added 19 miles of range to the car.

Interior

Moving inside and you are greeted with that familiar Mini interior, with the unique switches, big round screen with wraparound LED light system taking on anything from the volume to the fan speed. You get Apple CarPlay as standard as well as access to the Mini smartphone app. The app lets you remotely lock the car, sound the horn, see the state of charge and see where the car is.

I personally prefer the look of the cloth seats on the Level 2 model, the Level 3 comes with black leather and can make the car feel a bit sombre inside. The grey fabric helps lift the interior up, other bits included as standard is a rear view camera and parking sensors.

The boot space isn't the best, comparable to a VW e-up! at best - at 211 litres. There is space below the false floor for the charging connectors.

Pricing

The Mini Electric used to be a good deal. Back when it was launched, it was around £24,900, with the plug-in car grant from the government. However, in June 2022 this scheme was cancelled, meaning the car is more expensive at £31,000. That price is a bit of a problem. The Mini Electric is fast, attractive and super easy to drive. For similar money, the Honda E available, but is more of the same, high price with not much range.

Conclusion

Can I recommend the Mini Electric? I think if someone is looking for a small runaround electric hatchback, then the VW e-up! is probably a better choice, with more range and £10,000 less. However, you do get what you pay for with the Mini, it's stylish design feels old school but fashionable inside and everything is high quality. The iDrive like controls for the infotainment work well and the touchscreen is easy to use and very high resolution.

If price is less of a concern and style is more of a priority, then the Mini Electric is a good choice. If you are more price conscious, a used Seat Mii Electric or brand new VW e-up! is probably a better choice.

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