MINI has taken the leap into electric vehicle territory with its latest model and the three-door hatchback still maintains all its unique appeal and charm while being kinder to the planet.
The sporty Cooper S Electric hatchback model looks like the ‘normal' MINI, but that's where the tradition ends because instead of a combustion engine, it is powered by a 32kWh battery and electric motor developing 181bhp.
And just in case you were concerned that it would lose its driving appeal with so much karting heritage at stake, fear not as the MINI Electric powers out of the starting blocks and has ample levels of acceleration to cope with motorway driving, country lanes or city centre stop/start traffic.
With a driving range between charges of up to 145 miles, the car is available in Level 1, 2 or 3 formats.
We tried the mid-trim MINI Cooper Electric Level 2, priced at Â£29,900 (reduced to Â£26,900 thanks to the Government's plug-in vehicle grant).
To help the MINI Electric stand out, there is badging on the front, rear and front wings, along with optional yellow wheel caps. The radiator grille area is blanked off and has a yellow E badge and the charge port replaces the standard fuel filler.
Move inside and it's MINI through and through with some EV-related information on the all-new 5.5-inch digital display screen behind the steering wheel to show the driving range and charge percentage, and there is a yellow-coloured starter switch.
The car is well equipped with mod cons such as a navigation system, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay, heated seats, a reversing camera and the traditional large circular display dial.
With just one gear, like all EVs, the acceleration is smooth and effortless with instant bursts of pace on tap. And when you lift your foot from the throttle, the car harvests energy through regenerative braking. In its highest setting the braking is more severe and that means the car can be driven virtually with just a single pedal.
As is the MINI way, the electric model handles beautifully through the fast B lanes with lots of sharp bends. The road holding is ultra-assured and the car is perfectly balanced meaning corners can be attacked with confidence.
Officially the MINI Electric can sprint from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and maxes out at 93mph, but it does feel faster. The ride can be a little unforgiving on poorer road surfaces, but the well-insulated cabin protects occupants from road surface or wind noise.
The driver can switch through various drive modes called Sport, Mid, Green and Green+ with Sport sharpening up the responses while the Green settings are for more refined, energy-saving motoring.
And while the range is not the greatest on offer within the supermini EV sector it will be ideal for day-to-day short commutes when it can be economically charged up overnight. You will notice the range drop quite quickly on motorways or when travelling at higher speeds, but this again is the norm for most EVs.
There is room within the car for four occupants with interior space almost the same as the traditional Cooper S. And the boot capacity is exactly the same at 211 litres - a limit that increases to 731 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats dropped down. There are front and rear cup holders, a glovebox, central cubby area under the front armrest, door bins and seat back pockets.
The vehicle is packed with safety kit and driver assist aids such as traffic sign and speed limit recognition, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, dynamic stability control and six airbags.
On the practicality front, it is possible to charge the MINI Electric via a 7.4kW wallbox in less than five hours.
All in all, MINI has brought its Cooper S model bang up to date with consumer demand. It's still very much a MINI through its looks and handling, but it boasts zero carbon emissions along the way.
£26,900, with£3k government grant included
32kWh battery and electric motor developing 181bhp and single gear transmission.
Up to 145 miles