I took the new MINI Electric for an extended test drive. Here’s what I thought…
So first things first, I usually drive a manual petrol car. So I can’t make a direct comparison as we’re not comparing like for like here. What I will do is offer some of the experience I had and let you decide if electric is an option for you.
The MINI Electric is a city car, best suited to nipping around the streets (which it does at ease) and seeing you to your destination in style – I mean look at it! The MINI Electric I had the fun of test driving was the Level 2 model in British Racing Green – an iconic colour for a MINI, I’m sure you’ll agree. There are three different models available in the MINI Electric range at different price points.
On a full charge you can get up to 125 miles range (145 is cited on the MINI website, but it’s dependent upon how you drive/conditions) and that does give a good degree of flexibility. You could go to the coast (like I did – and if you’re within that kinda range of the coast of course…) your favourite local viewpoint (hello Penshaw monument) go shopping (I also did this) take it along to your latest parkrun (ok they’ve not started up again just yet, but I did take it out with me when I was headed for a run) It’s easy to fit the MINI Electric into your lifestyle and the extended test drive over a weekend really gave me the chance to test it out.
Driving MINI Electric
How is it to drive? In one word: fun. It really is great fun. Instant electric power means this MINI is quick off the mark. 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds and yes you might not always be driving along the motorway to notice that power, but even pulling away from roundabouts and navigating city streets you’re quickly up to 30mph. Being automatic too, it’s really smooth to drive. Just took me a little while to stop reaching for a gear stick to switch to second after pulling away from a roundabout/junction.
This car not only looks stylish but has a range of fun features too. Firstly the sci fi style noise when you power up – quirky, fun and impossible to type as a word! You’d have to hear it. Heated seats too on the level 2 model, reverse camera to assist with parking – handy feature if you’re in cities and trying to parallel park, then all the usual bluetooth connectivity so you can also put She’s Electric on while you’re driving around. Air drumming on the steering wheel is encouraged.
Regenerative braking is a feature which extends your range. When you lift off the accelerator, the car brakes for you and recovers this energy. You can alter this, but I actually quite liked it as a feature – handy to use if you know you’re doing a lot of steep hills too!
There’s a sport mode available, though the MINI Electric is effectively a Cooper S already spec wise, so it’s pretty nippy to begin with. There’s also a green mode (and a green+) which helps to make it a smoother drive and maximise your range.
Charging MINI Electric
So this is a key discussion point for the MINI Electric and understandably it’s one that you’d want to do a bit of homework on. I think the extended test drive gives you a great opportunity to try out the car and experience what it’s like to charge up. It’s actually pretty easy, the cables are provided with the car and there are a few different apps you can download to locate your charging points. There are three different types of charging and it’s worth checking which you’re aiming to use:
- Rapid – motorway services/main road routes. DC supply up to 100kw. Offering 80% charge in 20 minutes. Speedy!
- Fast – most commonly found, AC supply 7kw/22kw (both will work) full charge takes 3-4 hours. Time for shopping/cinema/food.
- Slow – up 3kw/6kw. You’ll be fully charged in 6-12 hours. This would be using the standard plug at home or some older charge points.
Think of charging the MINI Electric like charging your smartphone. So if an overnight charge at home works for you, great but otherwise factoring in rapid/fast charging while you’re out and about is a good way to make sure you’re topped up.
Electric charging is cheaper than your usual fuel, stats I’ve seen suggest it’s as little as 4p per mile. Some charging points are free (like the one I used at Dalton Park) but otherwise you’re looking at around £5 for a full charge… now compare that to how much you pay for a full tank. Yes the range you’d get on a full tank is higher but from a cost perspective, Electric is cheaper longer term.
Making the switch to Electric
It’s not something that’s going to suit everyone, but I do feel like the experience has opened my eyes to Electric cars. I feel less worried about the charging – really if this is the way vehicles are going in the future then it’ll just be a case of looking for charging points rather than a petrol station. I already do the latter and know where to go fill up. For the MINI Electric there’s handy apps you can download to search what’s available nearby like PodPoint, Zap-Map.
There’s also a MINI Connected app so you can check your range quickly, plan routes and set your air-con before you head out, so you can unlock, get in and go. No messing around.
The test drive
My extended test drive was booked through Stratstone MINI Tyneside. Other Stratstone locations are available and you can check online to find out which one is closest to you. I carried out my test drive when restrictions had eased and did so in the safest manner possible. I wanted to share my experience and was not paid to share this post or anything you’ll see across social. Check out my instagram feed for more of my MINI Electric experience.
What are your thoughts on electric cars? Anything you’d like to know more about my experience driving the new MINI Electric?