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Electric mini
Electric MINI charging at work. Photo courtesy of LGI.

Cars

Electric MINI Magic

By Jeff Shaw in an interview with David Waterworth

I have had the electric MINI since September 2020. It was in fact the first privately owned MINI electric vehicle in Australia. The cost was AUS$55,000 plus on-the-road costs (around AUD$59,990). Around town, I get around 250 km (155 miles) range (an estimate, as I rarely go this far). I charge once a week, and it costs around $5 if I charged at home rates (ignoring solar).

The reason I bought the MINI is that it is hands down the most fun EV to drive that a mere mortal can afford. I am not trying to belittle the Tesla in any way, but it just isn’t as fun to drive. Yes, it accelerates better — well, in dual-motor guise — but MINIs are famous for their “go kart” dynamics, and the SE hasn’t lost any of that. In fact, as someone who has had several MINIs, it may even build on the go kart feel. The more even weight balance combined with instant electric power makes for a great experience. I still have a smile every time I drive the little beast.

Electric Mini

Electric MINI. Photo courtesy of Majella Waterworth.

Around town, you never need ultimate speed, but acceleration, handling, and size make the electric MINI the perfect city car. Pulling out from an intersection or away from a green light is effortless. The sporty suspension combined with surefooted handling means an excellent driving experience. The Tesla is an excellent car, but it is no MINI. It is far too practical. 😉

Everyone who has been in the car has been impressed. A friend of mine who has a dual-motor Model 3 commented on the suspension saying it had a far more sporty feeling. The acceleration is about as fast as a front wheel drive car can get, which is more than enough for anyone who wants to keep their licence. On that, my absolutely favourite feature is the speed limiter. I religiously use it and it is relaxing to know I never have to worry about speeding. The cabin is the opposite of a “standard” EV. It feels like a cockpit, encompassing you in the wonderful sports seats, with everything at finger’s reach. It feels like a “normal” car, not a spaceship. Everything is where you expect it to be.

The only thing that annoys me is the GOM (Guess ‘o’ meter) for the predicted range. It is hideously wrong — often suggesting 150 km after charging, even though I have passed 150 km with up to 40% left. The official figures for the car are also quite a long way off. The range is quoted at 233 km (in Australia), which isn’t too bad — I easily get this in sports mode. The 0–100 km/h is reported as almost 1 second slower. The 0–60 km/h (most useful in a city environment) is quite brutal and very comparable to a single-motor Tesla.

All in all, I absolutely love the little MINI and wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it (assuming you can actually find one to buy), and I wouldn’t swap it for anything short of an exotic car costing 10 times as much. It is a city warrior, so relaxing to one-pedal drive in traffic, and at the same time so easy to pull out, or get across lanes with when needed. I have never driven anything better in town, and I have driven a lot of cars.

As a footnote, I am very happy with my lifetime average of 12.5 kWh/100 km. The electric MINI is quite an efficient car. This average includes many coastal trips (at 110 km/h) and the usual mix of freeway and city driving. Purely around town, my best is 10.5 kWh/100 km, and I get around 14.5 at freeway speeds on longer trips.

Featured photo courtesy of LGI.

 
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Written By

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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