Mini Electric Review 2023 | Top Gear
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature
eBay's Guide to Thrifty Motoring
Read it all here
Friday 31st March
A surprisingly rounded EV. Fun to drive, uncompromised inside, and still every bit a Mini

Good stuff

Mini’s trademark agility survives (almost) intact. Useful pace. Battery doesn’t eat into the cabin

Bad stuff

It wasn’t that spacious in the first place, and the ride’s tougher than a petrol Cooper S. Only you can decide if 120 miles is sufficient...


What is it?

It’s the Mini Electric, if you’re buying one in Britain. If you’re hailing from anywhere else in the world then, confusingly, this is the Mini Cooper SE. And wherever you buy it, you still get a fluro green-tinted ‘Cooper S’ badge on the boot. What’s underneath, however, remains exactly the same. Welcome to the age of the fully electric Mini. This could be a big one.

A big Mini, you say?

Yes, because Minis are objectively desirable. BMW’s reborn city car consistently sells strongly, offers rock-solid residual values, and drives with a slightly cartoonish but ultimately endearing vim. It’s the sort of car owners give names to. It’s cute and well put together enough that the premium prices have never been a barrier to its rampant success. And now, there’s one that you plug in instead of fill up.

Advertisement - Page continues below

How fast is it with electrons for fuel?

Driving the front wheels, there’s a single electric motor, dishing out 182bhp – the same power as a 2.0-litre petrol-powered Cooper S. The Mini Electric is heavier however: 145kg heavier than a Mini Cooper S with the automatic gearbox.

But, the 199lb ft of torque is instant, the centre of gravity is lower, and Mini has worked tirelessly (using battery intel harvested from the BMW i3) to package the cells into the three-door hatchback’s shell. So, while it's hardly the most spacious car in its class to start with, Mini can and does proudly claim that the legroom and boot space hasn’t been diminished at all by the addition of 32.6kWh of lithium-ion goodness. Head over to the interior tab for more.

Hooray! But is the range still adequate?

Mini claims a range of between 140-145 miles. On a direct comparison with a petrol-juiced Cooper S that’ll average low 30s to the gallon and get over 300 miles per tank, it looks catastrophic. But Mini is defiant: choosing this sort of range compromise keeps the battery size, weight and charging time manageable – not to mention the cost – and suits what Mini predicts folks will use the car for. So, if they’ve got their sums right, this thing will be a phenomenon.

Good news is, the chassis team haven’t simply been down der pub while the marketing bods get to work, and the modern-age Mini still feels as agile, surefooted, and as chuckable as every Mini should. Heavier, mind, and not as plush-riding as some of its rivals, but that's never been the Mini way. Full details over on the driving tab.

Advertisement - Page continues below

So how much does it cost?

Prices start from £29,000 OTR, with the Mini Electric coming in three easy-to-understand trim levels, handily named Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. There seems to be an ever-revolving door of special editions though, so don't be surprised to see another option should you browse the configurator. Full lowdown over on the buying tab.

It’s not short of rivals – among them the Fiat 500, Honda e, Peugeot e-208, Renault Zoe and Vauxhall Corsa Electric, to name but a few – so it’ll need to rely on more than just its looks to tempt buyers.

Want to know what the best electric cars are? Click here for the top 20

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

A surprisingly rounded EV. Fun to drive, uncompromised inside, and still every bit a Mini

The Mini Electric is a very complete little EV. It preserves pretty much everything we like about a standard Mini Cooper S, but it’s more accelerative where it matters, and has zero local emissions. It proves that the hot hatch will have a future as an EV. And it reinforces something we learned with the VW e-Golf – that an electric car doesn’t have to be wantonly radical to be a success. Stuffing a car we already know and like with battery cells can, with the correct execution, be a good tactic.

However, the Mini asks you to understand a few home truths. BMW could have given it more range. But, that would have made it heavier, more expensive, taken longer to charge, and invade cabin space. So, it’s studied a lot of Mini owner data, sussed out the average Cooper S travels 26 miles a day, or around 180 miles a week, and moulded the Mini Electric’s performance to suit that brief, needing only a couple of recharges to slip into the average Mini audience’s life unnoticed.

It feels like a strong addition to the Mini family. We’ve always championed the weight-saving, space-giving packaging of the now retired BMW i3, so now it’s over to Mini to see if the conventional approach can do the numbers.

The Rivals

compare car finance
Powered byZuto Logo
more on this car
Take one for a spin or order a brochure
Powered byRegit Logo

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

Get your first 5 issues for £5