Cast your mind back a decade, to the original Mini E concept. How far-fetched it seemed then; 600 cars were built, trialled around the UK with willing customers to assess electric vehicle usage for a future production car. Back then, a viable, sensibly priced electric Mini seemed aeons off, this being a world where the Tesla Roadster was needlessly wacky, the hybrid hypercar holy trinity was years away and the BMW i8 just a concept.
Yet here we are in 2019, with a Mini Electric developed off the back of those trials and available to buy right now - handily marking the 60th anniversary, too. Using a 32.6kWh battery and BMW's latest synchronous electric motor, the Mini Electric makes 184hp and 199lb ft, enough for a 7.3-second 0-62mph sprint and limited 93mph top speed. Interestingly, Mini is also suggesting that electric drive "takes the trademark Mini go-kart driving feeling to new heights, thanks to new suspension technology designed for this model." With a centre of gravity "at least" 30mm lower than a Cooper S and less weight over the nose (because the battery pack is between the front and rear seats), it should drive pretty nicely. "Exceptional driving dynamics" might be going a tad far, but the signs are good, especially with a DIN kerbweight of 1,365kg - 145kg more than a Cooper S auto, sure, but also 100kg less than those original Mini E prototypes.
As for charging, the Electric is designed for AC and DC charging using Type 2 and CCS Combo 2 plugs. A 50kW DC fast charge can provide an 80 per cent charge in 30 mins - fully juiced, the WLTP range is between 124 and 144 miles - and the same level of battery replenishment takes 150 mins via an AC 11kW connection. The Mini Electric charge point is where the fuel filler would be in a regular Mini, and a charge level indicator sits above it.
Elsewhere, the Electric is fairly familiar Mini: there are four drive modes - Green +, Green, Mid and Sport - and the standard 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Real Time Traffic Info. The heater is 75 per cent more efficient than a normal one. Also very Mini is the Electric's range of trim levels - you don't just buy an EV Mini. Oh no. The entry model is £24,400 after the government plug-in grant has been applied, or £299 a month plus a £4k initial rental for a 48-month PCH. Above that sits the mid-level version, which is £26,400 and adds heated seats, park distance control, a Driving Assistance pack, plus a wider range of colour and wheel options. The most expensive Mini Electric is £30,400 and comes kitted out with a larger 8.8-inch infotainment screen, panoramic roof, Matrix LEDs and a Harmon Kardon sound system.
Orders are being taken now, with build slots secured through a £500 deposit and first deliveries starting next spring. Which is about the same time the Honda e is expected, promising the same sort of experience for the same sort of money. Could you see either as your next day-to-day city car? If neither especially appeals, rumours are now circulating once more that the Rocketman will make production. That's still to be confirmed, though; the Mini Electric is definitely happening, and it's a matter of months away...
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