The MINI Electrical is on its means – though its official title could have modified to MINI Cooper SE by the point it lands in UK dealerships at first of 2020. However Auto Specific has had an opportunity to get behind the wheel of a prototype model of the all-electric hatchback, which might be unveiled in the summertime after which produced, from late autumn, alongside typical MINIs on the firm’s plant in Oxford.
The MINI Cooper SE is, in impact, a three-door MINI outfitted with a good chunk of the electrical structure from the BMW i3 metropolis automotive. It’ll have a usable 29kWh of battery capability, delivering comparable real-world vary to the 94Ah i3 that’s simply been changed – so round 120 miles between expenses. Its 181bhp electrical motor is lifted from the i3 S though intriguingly, the battery cells themselves within the MINI might be equipped by Chinese language agency CATL – a swap from the i3’s Samsung-sourced objects.
The 200kg-odd battery pack slots into the area used for the combustion-engined MINI’s exhaust and transmission tunnel, so the three-door’s comparatively meagre rear cabin area and boot capability don’t take a success by way of electrification. The automotive weighs round 1360kg, or about 130kg greater than a comparable Cooper S with an automated gearbox.
The automotive we’re driving is fairly successfully camouflaged, though if you happen to look carefully sufficient, you’ll be able to inform that the entrance grille might be closed flush (anticipate it to be supplied in a variety of distinction colors, together with MINI’s ‘electrical yellow’). The truth is, the entrance bumper has been adjusted to assist with pedestrian influence rules too, and the rear bumper is a singular design as a result of it doesn’t have to include any exhaust pipes.
To accommodate sufficient safety for the battery packs, the Cooper SE sits barely larger than common MINIs, and it will get a smaller vary of wheels (16 and 17-inch objects solely, as an alternative of the standard line-up from 15 to 18 inches). Nonetheless, designers have performed with the black plastic wheelarch surrounds to assist masks the totally different stance – and in reality, you’ll in all probability must park an Electrical proper beside a Cooper S to identify the distinction. Neither is there a statement-making charging socket; it’s built-in neatly underneath the identical flap as common automobiles’ gasoline fillers.
The cabin of our prototype wears loads of disguising shrouds however it’s clear that there might be a digital ‘pod’ instrument panel forward of the steering wheel and that the standard infotainment display – an oblong show shoehorned into MINI’s trademark spherical dashboard console – might be retained.
MINI isn’t making any efficiency claims but for the automotive however it feels sprightly sufficient as we enterprise out onto the tarmac of BMW’s monitor expertise centre close to Munich. There’s the usually robust immediate EV shove as you draw back from relaxation, after which a satisfying linearity to the throttle modulation and shocking heft to the steering. These final two traits might be adjustable, although; we elevate one little bit of the inside disguise to find that switchable drive modes will proceed to be supplied, regardless that they’re disabled on our check automotive.
As speeds construct up, we begin throwing the Cooper SE into the form of course modifications that conventionally powered MINIs love. And in probably the most half, it delivers the identical expertise. The entrance finish is fast to reply to steering wheel inputs, and it hangs on properly; you should be fairly brutal to get the steadiness management concerned, because it scoops you out of lift-off oversteer.
Sure, you’ll be able to really feel additional bulk, however even when the Cooper SE’s drive is deadened ever so barely in contrast with a combustion-engined automotive, its chassis continues to be a remarkably agile and involving creation – extra so than just about any mainstream EV we will consider, in truth. The experience is agency, as with all MINIs, however not distressingly so, even on the bigger of the electrical automotive’s wheel selections. In the event you can reside with an everyday Cooper S on 18-inch alloys round city, you’re unlikely to search out a lot to moan about right here.
We’re inspired to flick a swap on the dashboard to maneuver the Cooper SE between its two ranges of brake power recuperation. This setting, which operates independently of the throttle and steering drive modes, delivers deceleration of zero.19g (greater than in an i3) while you elevate off the throttle in its extra aggressive default configuration, and zero.11g if you happen to favour a gentler method.
In both case, it’ll convey the automotive to a whole halt after which maintain it there – as with the i3 and the Mk2 Nissan Leaf – so the Cooper SE is a automotive that may be pushed on a single pedal, assuming you learn visitors stream and anticipate accordingly.
Presumably the automotive’s cleverest trick is its Lively Slip Regulation. Mini’s engineers have built-in the automotive’s traction management into the electrical motor’s personal ECU, dashing up response time and permitting it to take full benefit of the faster reactions of the electrical motor itself. The consequence, the automotive proves in a standing begin on a soaking moist stretch of asphalt, is flawless, unflustered acceleration in slippery situations. On this respect alone, the Mini feels a dynamic step away from the likes of the Hyundai Kona Electrical and Kia e-Niro.
It’s not going to match these Korean choices on vary, although – and this could possibly be the MINI’s largest flaw. The corporate says patrons of its three-doors usually drive round 25 miles per day, and that plenty of them have a minimum of one different automotive within the family, so the battery capability needs to be sufficient to fulfill their wants. We don’t doubt that. However when even different supermini-sized fashions like the most recent Peugeot e-208 are showing with greater than 200 miles of vary, the MINI dangers trying barely restrictive, at the same time as a metropolis automotive.