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
- Sharp handling
- Adequate performance
- As practical as petrol model
- No cable storage
- No five-door model
- Relatively short range
|Car type||Electric range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|Electric||140-145 miles||4hrs 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.
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 ZOE, Peugeot 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…
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe MINI Electric is a fun, fast and chic small electric car, but its relatively modest driving range may put some buyers off
- 2Range, battery & chargingA relatively modest 145-mile range may put some buyers off the MINI Electric, but for a lot of suburban and urban dwellers, that'll be enough
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe MINI Electric is one of the most affordable electric cars you can buy, despite its premium finish, and it also promises to be cheap to run
- 4Performance, motor & drivePerformance from the MINI Electric is strong – and most importantly, the hatchback has lost none of the petrol model's sense of fun
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThe MINI Electric’s interior holds plenty of style appeal, but it can’t match rivals for high-tech feel
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThe MINI Electric isn't particularly practical, but the interior and boot are at least the same size as the petrol model's
- 7Reliability & safety ratingThe MINI Electric is too new to give an accurate reliability assessment yet, but the brand’s other models tend to fare well in owner surveys
- 8Living with itDid a short range and limited three-door practicality taint our time with the MINI Electric?