MINI goes electric

with new Cooper S

MINI Electric Cooper S, 2020, side
MINI Electric Cooper S, 2020, rear
MINI Electric Cooper S, 2020, front
MINI Electric Cooper S, 2020, charging
MINI Electric Cooper S, 2020, interior
MINI Electric Cooper S, 2020, motor
MINI Electric Cooper S, 2020, wheel
MINI Electric Cooper S, 2020, toggle switches
MINI Electric Cooper S, 2020, Cowley production line
MINI Electric Cooper S, 2020, display screen
MINI Electric Cooper S, 2020, badge

MINI is the latest car brand to add an electric model to its line up in the shape of a battery powered, three door version of the Cooper S.

With a range of up to 145 miles and the capacity to take a fast recharge of up to 80 per cent in just over half an hour, MINI is hoping its zero emission newcomer will hit the mark with Britain's new breed of eco-conscious drivers.

It's priced from £24,400 after the Government grant for low emission vehicles or from £299 a month on a lease plan and MINI is offering three different versions with prices topping out from £30,400 including the £3,500 subsidy.

Compared to a regular Cooper S with an internal combustion engine, the electric MINI is actually some £400 cheaper with the plug-in grant in Level 1 specification and MINI has made the electric model true to form when it comes to handling.

Technically the MINI Electric is the same at all levels with two settings for brake regeneration and four drive modes.

Those are selected from toggle switches familiar to all MINI drivers and in the main the electric model is pure MINI with the exception of a new-look to the instrument panel which is now a 5.5-inch digital display on top of the steering wheel.

Acceleration is brisk - especially from a standing start - with 0 to 40mph taking around four seconds and 0 to 60 rated at 7.3 seconds. Maximum speed is 93mph.

While you can hear the electrical gubbins whirring away at times, noise levels are eerily quiet but on the handling front the car is pure fun and it drives just as a MINI should.

The balance is almost 50/50 and if anything the steering feels slightly heavier - though no less responsive and in its default settings the MINI Electric is set up to deliver maximum regeneration which makes single pedal driving almost the norm.

At 1.365 tonnes kerb weight the electric car is just 145 kilos heavier than a standard Cooper S with an automatic transmission and its ride height is slightly higher - by 18mm.

The lower regeneration setting is less aggressive and makes for a smoother experience but is really best saved for cruising speeds to get the best from the 32.6kWh battery.

We tried the new MINI Electric in Level 2 and 3 grades and on both drives a full charge was showing a 129 miles range in cold, wintry weather conditions.

After 75 mile runs the battery gauge was showing 49 per cent capacity with some 45 miles range remaining and given the vagaries of EVs that's about par for the course.

Given its official range - and at the moment there is only the Honda e with a lower figure - the MINI craves to be driven and that is a stumbling block.

Recharging from a 7.4kW charger - the sort most EV users will fit at home - takes 3.2 hours to 80 per cent or 4.2 hours to full capacity.

Other than that MINI has made a fantastic job of making its car electric and it is made in Britain at parent company BMW's Cowley factory in Oxford.

Space inside on the electric model is identical to the regular Cooper S three door and boot space at 211 litres is the same with 731 litres available with the rear seats folded.

Externally it is set off with special badges front, rear and on the wings, the charging point is in the same place as the fuel filler cap and at the front the grille is blanked off.

There's also a wheel design which MINI has created as an option exclusively for the electric model.

The powertrain develops the equivalent of 184bhp and that's very similar to that of the petrol powered 2.0-litre Cooper S.

And as MINI says it has tried to create ‘a normal car for a changing market' and it certainly has.

With sat nav, an electronic parking brake and LED headlights all as standard it's nicely equipped and with the special driving modes for electric enjoyment everything for genuine sporty performance to maximum efficiency without air conditioning and the like is possible.

The MINI Electric is very much a car of the times and in Level 3 grade comes fully fitted with a head up display, a larger central screen and a high-end hi-fi system among its features.

It's a zero emission model that is true in every way to the vision first created by Sir Alec Issigonis more than 60 years ago - and one that is sure to keep the MINI spirit alive for many years to come.

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