MINI Cooper S

Electric Level 1

MINI Cooper Electric Level 2, 2020, nose
MINI Cooper Electric Level 2, 2020, side, static
MINI Cooper Electric Level 2, 2020, rear
MINI Cooper Electric Level 2, 2020, interior

THE Mini Cooper name is something of a legend, invoking memories of exploits during the Monte Carlo rally back in the 1960s.

Things are much different these days. Today MINIs are altogether different, much bigger machines, reborn under BMW.

As we all know the MINI has moved on since being acquired by BMW at the turn of the century, but the legacy lives on with the performance Cooper Electric.

Tuned for performance, instead of a two litre twin turbo engine a 32 kW electric motor powers the car, delivering virtually identical performance.

Handling has not been compromised to accommodate a battery either, which sits low within the body, and in appearance, only the not-so-subtle electric plug logos give the electric game away.

That is a feature now of the latest electric cars, only looking marginally different to their internal combustion engine (ICE) siblings. Recently tweaked in certain areas, It features a larger radiator grille with black hexagonal surround, the instantly familiar round MINI headlights and 16 inch alloy wheels.

It also offers desirability, high-end finish, and importantly for many who will be buying this, zero carbon emissions.

The range is not brilliant compared to many rivals, with a top range of 124 miles claimed. The best indicated when fully charged was 98 miles, which pretty much rules out any extended journeys without some serious planning about charging en route.

So there is some range anxiety and it may well be the case that this would be a second car and if so, commitment to a home7.4kW charger is important. It takes 3.2 hours to 80 per cent or 4.2 hours to full capacity and is likely, given the range to be used at least twice a week.

The limited range, apparently, was a deliberate move by the designers, sacrificing range for a more compact battery that would not compromise the handling of the car.

Otherwise the performance is, well, electric. Acceleration is instantaneous from the 181bhp electric motor, with the car hitting 60 in just over seven seconds. The top end is 93 mph.

There are driving mode selectors to help prolong the range, while a selectable brake regeneration pumps energy back into the system without having to touch the pedal.

The power is channeled beautifully through the latest adaptive suspension setup which balances wringing out optimum handling with a reasonably comfortable ride.

Despite that initial surge of power there is little evidence of torque steer or wheel spin. Power it through tight bends and it clings limpet-like to the road. It really is a driver's car.

Inside is typical MINI, the digital cockpit includes the large dish-sized central dial enclosing an 8.8 inch colour touchscreen through which major functions are controlled. These include infotainment, navigation system, smartphone connectivity. Also still prevalent is the piano black finish and the now familiar rocker switches.

This model is the so-called entry Level 1, with Level 2 and 3 sitting above, but is still well equipped with parking sensors, DAB radio, heated, front sport seats, ambient lighting, automatic wipers and headlights, auto air con, cruise control and the usual electric driver aids.

FAST FACTS

MINI Cooper S Electric Level 1

Price:£27,920

Mechanical:32kWh battery and 181bhp electric motor driving front wheels via single gear auto transmission

Max Speed: 93mph

0-62mph:7.2 seconds

Combined MPG:124 miles

Insurance Group:22

C02 emissions: 0g/km

Bik rating: 1%

Warranty:3yrs/unlimited miles

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