On UK roads since 2020, the MINI Electric looks much like the regular petrol three-door MINI Hatch.
The only obvious visual giveaways are the solid grille and special yellow logos (designed to echo the look of three-pin plug) front and rear. Even the flap hiding the charging point is in the same place as the fuel filler cap on the standard car.
In fact, the designers and engineers have done the sensible thing and not tampered with the MINI’s winning combination of retro cool looks, quirky interior, quality feel and fun driving characteristics.
Inside, it gets a 5.5-inch driver’s display behind the steering wheel that shows essential info such as the car’s speed and the amount of charge left in the batteries, while a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system dominates the centre console – just like a regular MINI.
Traditionalists will also approve of the toggle switches and dials – a refreshing antidote to the minimalism of many EVs these days.
Starting at £32,550, there’s a choice of three versions – Levels 2 and 3, plus the current Resolute special edition.
The reality is that the trio of EV MINIs only differ when it comes to goodies.
For instance, Level 2 gets heated front seats, self-dimming mirrors, rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera. Level 3 adds Matrix LED headlights, front parking sensors, a Harmon Kardon audio system and head-up display, while Resolute gets a Rebel Green paint finish, Pepper White contrast roof, special 17-inch wheels and other exclusive design elements.
All three are identical mechanically, which is no bad thing. Its electric motor puts out a punchy 184bhp, which translates into a 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds, though it feels faster, while drive is via the front wheels.
However, with a 32.6kWh battery and an official range of 143 miles (closer to 100 miles in real world driving), it’s very much an urban runabout.
As you’d expect, it’s simple to drive and there and you can switch between drive modes – Sport, Mid, Green or Green+.
Sport gives you full access to the power available, but Mid and Green are more sensible and will help you save battery charge and increase regenerative braking – a system which converts energy otherwise lost when coasting or braking back into electricity, recharging the battery.
“Sensible” driving is a struggle though, because it is such fun. The regular MINI is kart-like as it is – the EV version ramps it up a notch.
You sit low in the cabin in a superb driving position, and even though it’s heavier than its petrol-engined sibling, it hides that extra weight well and feels just as agile.
With sharp steering and amazing acceleration on tap, it’s seriously nippy in town and huge fun on flowing country roads.
The ride is on the firm side, which won’t suit everyone, but it feels planted, even when pushed. There’s also plenty of grip in faster corners.
The MINI Electric is fun with a capital ‘F’ – it’s just a shame that it can’t go further on a single charge.
To reach 100% from empty, you’ll need to plug it in via a 7.4kW wall-mounted home charger (3hrs 12 mins), while a more powerful 50kW charger can get from 0% to 80% capacity in just 36 minutes.
It has a premium feel inside and the build quality is hard to fault. However, at 211 litres, the boot is on the snug side, while the rear seats are best left for children and small, very obliging adults. If you need to carry larger items, there’s a total of 731 litres on offer if you flip down the back seats.