Mini Electric Level 2
The modern Mini is renowned for its engaging driving experience and stylish appearance. Richard Gooding discovers that the all-electric model may just be the most polished and entertaining version yet
What is it?
Relaunched in 2000 as a 'premium' branded hatchback by BMW, the modern day Mini is on its third generation. Following a successful Mini E pilot series in 2009, a production electric Mini first arrived in the UK in 2020. Using the 181bhp motor from the BMW i3S, the Mini Electric has just been lightly tweaked cosmetically. The car pictured here is the pre-refreshed model.
What range does it have?
All Mini Electric models have a WLTP-certified official range of 140-145 miles on a single charge.
How long does it take to charge?
Charging the Mini Electric's 32.6kWh lithium-ion battery takes 3 hours and 12 minutes on a 7.4kW wallbox, rising to 12 hours to 80 per cent capacity on a home domestic supply. An 11kW AC fast charger refills the battery in 2 hours and 30 minutes, while a 50kW rapid charger replenishes to 80 per cent capacity in 36 minutes.
How does it drive?
From the outside, the Mini Electric looks much the same as its combustion-engined sisters. Yellow 'E' badges and a blanked-off upper grille denote the electric model, and our test car was fitted with stylish 17-inch 'Electric Power' alloy wheels, the design of which resembles a UK three-pin plug. Inside, it's a similar story, too, although the Mini Electric was the first Mini to gain a 5-inch digital instrument display pod ahead of the driver which has since been adopted across the range. As design led as it ever was, the Mini Electric's interior is a stylish place to spend time.
The battery's 12 modules of lithium-ion cells are arranged in a T-shaped unit placed in the car's floor between the front seats and below the rear seats, ensuring practicality isn't lost. The Mini Electric keeps the standard hatchback's 211 litres of luggage space, expanding to 731 litres when the rear seats are folded.
With 181bhp, and 199lb ft (270Nm) of torque, acceleration is brisk, and the Mini Electric reaches 62mph in 7.3 seconds, topping out at a limited 93mph. Weight of 1,365kg is only 145kg more than an ICE Mini Cooper S 3-door with automatic transmission, and with a 30mm lower centre of gravity accents the Mini's fun driving dynamics even further. The sharp, positive steering and tenacious cornering appetite of the standard car are all very much evident, and the Mini EV is a hugely enjoyable machine to drive.
Four modes tailor the driving experience. The 'Sport' setting enables more direct steering and faster power delivery; 'Mid' dials back the steering setting; 'Green' eases the accelerator actuation; and 'Green+' mode disables or limits certain functions such as the air conditioning, rewarding drivers with increased in displayed range. Two levels – low or intense – levels of regenerative braking can be chosen by a toggle switch in the centre of the dashboard. A similar switch controls the driving modes, but we found them a little too low placed to be comfortable, the braking control also being on the passenger side of the console. Other functions of the 8.8-inch colour touchscreen can be controlled using the rotary knob behind the gear lever.
What does it cost?
The Level 2 version of the Mini Electric tested here costs £28,000, including the £2,500 government Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG). Standard equipment includes auto lights (LED) and wipers, dual-zone air conditioning, a heat pump, navigation system and real-time traffic information, pre-conditioning options, a rear view camera and heated seats. The Mini Electric range starts with the £26,000 Level 1 model, and tops out with the new £34,500 Collection.
How much does it cost to tax?
Current taxation regulations dictate that Mini Electrics are exempt from VED charges. The Mini EV is rated at zero per cent Benefit in Kind (BIK) for 2020-2021, increasing to one per cent in 2021-2022, and two per cent in 2022-2023.
Why does my fleet need one?
The Mini Electric combines the spirited performance and driving fun of its ICE relatives, but with the taxation and fiscal benefits a zero-emission derivative brings. Arguably the perfect car for such a transformation and hugely appealing for those who can live with a shorter EV range, the Mini Electric will be the most compelling small electric car choice.