Mini Hatchback 2.0 John Cooper Works Premium 3dr Auto
The bad news is the Mini Electric weighs in 145kg heavier than the petrol Cooper S. But there is some good news to counter that. Firstly, the weight bias is further back, spread more evenly along the car, so it’s better-balanced.
Secondly, that weight is carried lower in the chassis: the centre-of-gravity lies 30mm deeper than the dino-fuelled hot hatch, despite the body actually standing 18mm taller to make room for the battery. Overall, that’s good news for cornering.
On the one hand the Mini Electric is an agile, chuckable little hatchback. But it’s also more jiggly riding and less alert than a normal Mini, because while you can put firmer suspension on 145kg of flab, and hang it lower in the body, 145kg is still one hundred and forty-five kilograms. A 1,365kg supermini is a porker, and you can sense this.
Crucially, though, it doesn’t spoil the experience. It’s something you notice and then get used to. A standard Mini is nowhere near as plush-riding as, say, a Renault Clio anyway. It was already the sporty end of the spectrum.
The motor develops 181bhp and 199lb ft, which is enough to shift the lardy-but-nippy Mini from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds; not quite standard Cooper S pace. It doesn’t matter. It’ll do 0-31mph in 3.9 seconds, which is plenty rapid enough for urban combat.
This isn’t a one-trick pony EV that’s all acceleration and no manners. The performance feels balanced with the handling, and thanks to the BMW i3’s exceptionally clever traction control, which anticipates slip instead of reacting to it with stabs of wasteful braking, you’re never wasting valuable charge with messy wheelspin.
Yep – if you lift off the go pedal, the regen will slow the car as aggressively as a medium dab of the brakes, funnelling otherwise wasted power back into the battery. You can turn this down to allow the car to coast, using one of the toggle switches on the dashboard. We’d have preferred this to have been activated by paddleshifters, but there aren’t any. Shame.
Every time you switch the car on, it’ll default to its high-regen setting, so on balance it’s less hassle just to get used to the more efficient mode. And speaking of modes, for even more Greta-pleasing driving there are Green and Green Plus modes to dial back throttle response and even disable the climate control if you’d really like to boost your range. Click the switch in the opposite direction and Sport mode perks up the powertrain.
Happily, it doesn’t inject any fake noise into the cabin, though whatever mode you’re in, the Mini emits a subtle, likeable sci-fi electro-drone to warn pedestrians of its presence. Inside, the only noise to speak of is a little wind flutter around the slightly more angular, aerodynamic door mirrors.
Mini claims the Electric will do between 140-145 miles on a charge. On test, with limited use of the aircon/heating and braking regen set to ‘very’, a full charge showed as 118 miles.
Ignore what the dash might tell you, we make that about 4.1 mi/kWh (although Mini quotes a 32.6kWh battery, only 28.9 of that is useable): this is both very good efficiency for an electric car, and still a bit pants if you need to get somewhere that's two hours away by motorway.
Using a three-pin socket will take around 12 hours for a full recharge, or using a home charging unit allows for a full recharge in 3.5 hours. Or it'll go from empty to 80 per cent in 2.5 hours. And if you can find a fast-charge station that’s operational, then zero-to-eighty per cent takes about 35 minutes.
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