In-depth reviews

MINI Electric review

The MINI Electric is a fun, fast and chic small electric car, but its relatively modest driving range may put some buyers off

Overall rating

3.5 out of 5

Price
£27,920 - £34,470
Fuel Type:
Electric

Pros

  • Sharp handling
  • Adequate performance
  • As practical as petrol model

Cons

  • No cable storage
  • No five-door model
  • Relatively short range
Car typeElectric rangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
Electric140-145 miles4hrs 45mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)28mins (10-80%, 50kW)

The MINI Electric was refreshed in 2021 to match the rest of the MINI range, adding extra customisation options and updated infotainment. The biggest changes to the MINI Electric were cosmetic. Immediately you’ll notice the new grille, which replaces the grey panel on pre-facelift models. Instead, like the updated petrol-engined versions, the Electric gets a taller, wider grille with a colour panel and black rim. 

There’s also the option of a ‘multitone roof’ that combines several layers of paint you can customise. You can also add roof rails and adaptive cruise control to the Level 2 trim, while there’s a light grey leather upholstery option for the Level 3.

Inside, the MINI Electric’s infotainment was also upgraded, with the 8.8-inch touchscreen getting better graphics and split-screen functionality. The five-inch driver's display is unchanged. The Electric is available with an optional Navigation Pack that includes Apple CarPlay (but not Android Auto), while Navigation Plus adds a head-up display and wireless charging. Overall, interior quality is still excellent, even if the buttons on the steering wheel feel cheap, which is made worse by the fact they’re one of your main contact points in the car.

The rest of the MINI Electric remains the same, which in some respects is good news and others less so. First and foremost, it's fun to drive, with the 181bhp and 270Nm of torque produced by the front-mounted electric motor enough to propel the small hatchback from 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds. The car is also very responsive when you need to make quick manoeuvres like overtaking or exiting junctions.

It feels agile, acceleration is brisk and the steering is sharp and heavy, if lacking the organic and intuitive feel (and tiny turning circle) of the Honda e. The MINI also gets a clever traction-control system that prevents the wheels from spinning when you accelerate hard without neutering the power on offer, so it's easy to make good use of the performance without the traction issues that can arise from electric cars' strong torque.

The MINI's regenerative braking system is easy to get used to. The milder setting isn't much different to engine braking on a petrol or diesel car, while the stronger mode is aggressive enough to allow for 'one-pedal driving' in town. The ride is a little on the firm side, though. While the damping prevents any jarring from the suspension, the MINI still thumps over potholes and is a touch wince-inducing over compressions. Still, it's a compromise most will be happy to make for the car's appealingly enthusiastic pace and handling.

The problem for some will be the relatively modest range on a charge. MINI quotes between 140 and 145 miles from the 32.6kWh battery, although in reality you’re looking at closer to 120 in normal driving – or less in cold weather. Having said that, the MINI puts real emphasis on efficiency, helped by 'Green' and 'Green+' driving modes – the latter switches off the heated seats and air-conditioning to save energy. Elsewhere, standard 50kW rapid-charging capability can get the battery back to 80% capacity in under an hour.

Our drive on mostly rural UK roads returned an efficiency figure of 3.5 miles per kWh, which works out at over 100 miles' total range, despite quite a few faster sections in wet conditions. It bodes well for being able to get close to the claimed range in warmer months, especially if you spend a lot of time around town. That’ll be plenty for those with a short commute and access to a home wallbox, but buyers looking for closer to 200 miles of range are better served by models like the Renault ZOEPeugeot e-208 or Kia Soul EV.

The other issue that remains unresolved is that you can't get the MINI Electric as a five-door; it's three-door only, so while the two-seat rear bench will be fine for occasional use, it's awkward to get into and you're not going to want to deal with fitting child seats in the back. Between that and the small boot, it's safe to say this car isn't aimed at people with kids. For a more detailed look, read on for the rest of our in-depth review…

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