Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8
  • Just one motor and battery option for EV
  • It’s almost as fast as a Cooper S Hatch
  • Regenerative braking is impressively useful

Under the bodyshell is a 32.6kWh battery pack with a 184hp electric motor driving the front wheels. It’s your only power option for the MINI Electric, as the company hopes to keep things simple at the point of ordering one.

That power figure means that the Electric is capable of a 7.3-second 0-62mph sprint time – not far off that of a conventional engine Cooper S. The top speed is relatively low – rated at 93mph – but that’s plenty fast enough and is par for the course for electric cars.

There are four driving modes accessed via toggle switch: Green+, Green, Mid and Sport. Green+ is specially designed for the MINI Electric, which ups the natural brake regeneration when you lift off the throttle and switches off the air con and heated seating elements to save battery power, whereas the regular Green mode allows heating, but dulls the performance to conserve juice.

In fact, you can alter how much regeneration is available via a separate toggle switch to the left of the main starter button. Low is effectively coasting, allowing the car to roll freely with little interference. But switch it to high and you can almost drive the MINI Electric with one pedal – something tremendously useful in town. The car defaults to driving in this mode, and while it initially takes some getting used to, it's impressive how effective it is at bringing the car to a halt. As it's so abrupt, the brake lights activate to warn cars behind. 

Unless you really need to conserve the miles, we'd recommend leaving the car in the standard Mid mode. While Sport might be tempting, accelerating quickly not only drains the battery more quickly, but it can lead the MINI to squirm a bit under acceleration. It can tug around the road a little bit due to 270Nm of instantly-available torque running through the front wheels. 

Handling

  • Steering suffers from dead-spot
  • Well-judged ride balance
  • Easy if uninvolving to drive

MINIs have always been known for their excellent handling, but it seems like a little bit of the entertaining sharpness thas been lost, which is due to the Electric being heavier than a regular Cooper S. But compared with all of its electric rivals, it's still a huge amount of fun to drive, and is the nearest thing you'll find to an electric hot hatch right now.

It takes bends with real enthusiasm, and keen drivers will appreciate its responsive steering. The good news is that all of this fun doesn't come at too high a price. The MINI’s ride continues to tread the fine balance between comfortably useful and sporty. The 17-inch wheels available on all three of the trims mean you feel bumps and potholes, but the suspension isn’t irritatingly jiggly - only when you're on particularly rough or broken surfaces. 

It's not perfect, though. The steering is responsive compared with electric rivals but it's tinged with a little disappointment. What’s normally a cornerstone of what makes MINIs so fun has been softened slightly, with there being a sizeable dead-spot when driving in a straight line or under light steering loads. The Sport drive mode does little to alleviate this.

Should it stop you considering a MINI Electric? Of course not, but don't expect it to stimulate you like a petrol MINI.