Twin test: MINI Electric vs Renault ZOE
MINI's new kid on the small electric-car block takes on our 2020 Car of the Year, the refreshed Renault ZOE
Small electric cars make a lot of sense as a replacement for their internal-combustion counterparts: perfectly suited to urban motoring, but still capable of longer trips in comfort, all with the benefit of much lower running costs and zero local emissions.
The Renault ZOE was one of the first of the breed when it arrived in its original form in 2012. Since then, the French electric supermini has been improved gradually with more powerful electric motors and larger batteries. The latest model, introduced in 2019, uses a 52kWh battery for an impressive 238 miles of range. Buyers can pick from two electric motors and rapid-charging functionality is optional.
As a stylish supermini aimed at those living in towns and cities, the MINI Hatchback was a prime candidate for electrification. The MINI Electric has arrived relatively late to the game, but its credentials are strong – parent company BMW has an impressive record with its i3.
Powered by a 28.9kWh battery and a 181bhp electric motor, the MINI Electric can’t match the ZOE’s impressive range (144 vs 238 miles) but is cheaper to buy in its entry-level form – although the Renault gets more kit as standard and is cheaper in its highest spec, as tested here.
Pros: Fun to drive, great quality, comfortable
Cons: Short range, tight rear seats, limited boot space
Pros: Practical interior, impressive range, good standard equipment
Cons: Not as fun to drive, lacks badge appeal, slightly more expensive to buy
So that's two similar models with slightly different approaches to the small electric-car recipe: here, we decide which is best...
In This Review
- 1Intro - currently readingMINI's new kid on the small electric-car block takes on our 2020 Car of the Year, the refreshed Renault ZOE
- 2Range & chargingThe Renault ZOE wins the range competition, with the MINI Electric geared towards urban motorists
- 3Running costs & warrantyThe ZOE is cheaper to buy than the MINI and offers more standard equipment; both cost peanuts to run
- 4Performance & handlingThe MINI Electric is the more fun to drive of this pair, although the Renault ZOE is more comfortable
- 5Interior & infotainmentBoth cars get strong infotainment systems and well designed interiors, but the MINI edges ahead of the Renault
- 6Space & practicalityThe Renault beats the MINI when it comes to both passenger and luggage space
- 7Safety & reliabilityRenault and MINI have strong reputation for safety; both cars should prove reliable transport
- 8Verdict & specificationsBoth of these are great small electric cars, but the Renault ZOE is a more complete package than the MINI Electric