To some motorists, electric cars are the vehicular equivalent of porridge: good for you, but not that interesting. The same goes for city cars. Thankfully, the new MINI Electric Hatch dispels both of those notions.
The MINI brand has always been about maximum fun on minimum fuel – indeed, the original Mini was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis in 1957 as a response to the British fuel crisis of the 1950s. Yet Issigonis was also careful to make it practical and pleasant to drive as well.
That’s why it’s remembered so fondly and was so unbelievably successful: it wasn’t just a rational purchase, it was a genuinely fun car. It drove like a go-kart while sipping fuel and was capable of carrying around a whole family (if not in comfort then in style at least). It’s why it became a British pop culture icon while other, more austere city cars, faded into obscurity.
The MINI Electric Hatch continues that grand tradition of fun yet eco-friendly motoring – but it’s far from the utilitarian box on wheels the classic Mini was.
WATCH our video review of the 2022 MINI Electric Hatch below.
The MINI Electric Hatch is exactly what it says on the tin: it’s an all-electric version of the third-generation three-door MINI Hatch. While it’s made at MINI’s Plant Oxford in the UK, much of the tech that underpins the car was first debuted in the BMW i3 (although that’s by no means a bad thing).
That means that anyone who’s familiar with the standard internal combustion engine (ICE) version of the car will find the MINI Electric quite familiar… But its drivetrain inarguably makes it the pick of the litter as far as the MINI Hatch is concerned.
Instead of a petrol engine, a single electric motor drives the front wheels and makes a not-insubstantial 135kW/270Nm, drawing from a 32.6kWh battery, of which 28.9kWh is usable. That’s a fair amount of killer wasps for a car that’s almost a metre shorter and 50% more powerful than a Toyota Corolla Hybrid, by way of comparison. Ride and handling are also typically MINI: responsive, snappy and punt-able.
The MINI Electric’s drivetrain and battery cleverly fill the voids left by the absence of an internal combustion engine and fuel tank as well as the transmission tunnel. It’s a neat solution, but it’s a compromise because the car is built as an ICE first.
This also affects its performance credentials, chiefly its range. A smaller battery means it only has a 233km max range, and it also only has a top speed of 150km/h. 0-100km/h is also a 7.3-second endeavour. The rear seats are also slightly raised to accommodate the battery.
Yet being fully electric isn’t a total compromise. Its T-shaped battery gives it a lower centre of gravity compared to its ICE siblings, meaning it actually has slightly better handling characteristics. 0-100 might not be amazing but from 0-50, it’s properly nippy – that quick-off-the-line nature that electric cars have never gets old…
Yes, 233km of range isn’t amazing. But it kind of doesn’t matter. The MINI Electric isn’t some highway-munching grand tourer; it’s a stylish little city car.
In fact, that’s the biggest selling point of the MINI Electric Hatch: it’s currently the smallest electric vehicle on sale in Australia. Of course a small EV isn’t going to have the same range as a bigger EV like a Polestar or Tesla!
What’s arguably more important than range is how quickly it charges. It’s capable of charging to 80% in just 36min if using DC fast charging, or 2.5hr on standard AC home charging – which is really rather good.
The other thing that’s rather good is how it looks. Let’s be honest, one of the main reasons you’d want a MINI is because of the way it looks, and the MINI Electric doesn’t disappoint in that department. The front grille (or rather, the lack of front grille) complements the MINI Hatch’s iconic ‘Cool Britannia’ design language, and features like the EV-exclusive ‘power spoke’ wheels and green highlights really make it stand out from the crowd.
Personalisation is also a big focus with the MINI Electric, which boasts 6 wheel options, 7 main colour options, 3 interior choices as well as a funky multitone roof option that deletes the dual sunroof and, thanks to the way it’s produced, means no two multitone roofs are exactly the same. Mad.
MINIs used to be considered just fashion items rather than serious or practical cars. While there’s no doubt that aesthetics will always be one of the main reasons someone chooses a MINI, the MINI Electric Hatch has plenty of substance to match its style.
In short? We reckon it’s the perfect city car. Its small size, great handling, quirky design and lack of tailpipe emissions make it perfectly suited to be an urban warrior. In this environment, range figures or out-and-out performance are almost irrelevant.
It’s also the perfect one-car response to people who say both city cars and EVs are boring. If you’re going to save the planet (as well as your hip pocket), you may as well have fun doing it, right?
Find out more about the MINI Electric Hatch at MINI’s online showroom here.
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