My Review of the Electric Mini (for non-experts).
I had read an advert online: Make the new MINI Electric your own. Reserve online today with a £500 deposit. Learn more. 0-60mph in 7.3 seconds. From £25,500. Reserve yours today with our Feel Good Guarantee. Dual Zone Air Con. Intelligent E-Call. Front & Rear LED Lights. MINI Navigation
To be honest, I probably don’t understand all of that, but the thought of a small car (easy to park) that was fully electric (no more trips to the petrol station unless I run out of milk) was tempting. We went to have a look, and booked a test-drive—not that I intended to buy one, but don’t tell anyone!
When we arrived, there were several different minis on the forecourt. Some looked like they had been inflated with an air-pump (not keen) and some like they had been painted by 6-year-olds, with nice yellow rims around the lights and hubcaps. Not really my taste. But one was a beautiful green (if you ignore the adverts on the side). Obviously, you don’t choose a car for its paintwork, but if you did, this was the one. It had unfortunate hubcaps, that made it resemble a Playmobile car, but other than that, it was very nice.
We took our licences inside, and the salesman checked we weren’t listed as car thieves, and then said we could take one out for a drive. Due to the Covid regs at the time, he wasn’t able to accompany us, which was fine.
I went first. Driving the electric mini is unusual because there is no clutch pedal (like any automatic) but the accelerator pedal also acts as a brake—press to speed up, lift your foot to brake. As a driver who tends to coast and not use the accelerator, this took a little getting used to. There is a brake pedal as well, and you can switch off the clever multi-function pedal, but it was quite good once I trusted it.
The car is small (obviously) but it felt solid (not like our Fiesta, which feels a bit flimsy on fast roads). The acceleration was fierce—not that I properly tested it. I drove with Husband, who kept urging me to zoom away from junctions: “Go on, put your foot down, nip into that gap, give it some oomph.” But I simply wanted to drive slowly and get a feel for the car; I ignored him. He then drove it with Son 2, and I think they both thoroughly explored the whole “0-60mph in 7.3 seconds” and apparently, it’s true.
The interior was compact, but didn’t feel cramped with two adults. It would also be ideal for taking passengers in the rear, as long as they don’t have legs. It only has two doors (the third door is a lie, it’s the boot lid) so I fear Grandma might get stuck forever if she was put in the back. The back seats fold down flat, which makes an okay-sized space for a large dog who wants to breathe down your neck while you drive.
The steering wheel was a nice sporty size, in leather. The seats are only available in fabric unless you pay for a higher spec, which is a disincentive for putting large dog in the back (we decided not to include her in the test-drive trip, which was probably wise.) The higher spec also includes an ugly sunroof and fancy wing-mirrors, and front parking sensors. However, the higher spec also offers an automatic parallel-parking feature, which would be very attractive and save me many hours of humiliation (why are there always people watching when I attempt to parallel-park?) The higher spec is an extra £4,000 though, so not cheap (or worth it, in my opinion).
When I drive, I concentrate fully on what’s happening around me, trying to not hit anything. However, I was aware of a very fancy array of lights on the dashboard. There was a lack of dials and knobs, everything was digital. Things like CD players no longer seem to exist in cars, everything is linked to mobile phones or Ipods. For me to own one of these cars would require several hours of IT lessons if I wanted to use all the features on offer. There wasn’t even a slot to put the key into, simply having the key was sufficient it seems, and then there is a button to start the motor. Knowing which button starts the motor was not as easy as you might think, and when we returned the car, I turned on the radio and the set the air-conditioning before I managed to turn off the engine. I think Husband and Son had less trouble.
The electric mini has limited range due to the battery, and will only manage about 100 miles. It then needs to be recharged. (I think officially it does 145 miles, but I understand this is optimistic.) For me, this wouldn’t be a great problem as I can only drive for about 100 miles before I also need to rest and recharge. Though I suppose it would be annoying if there was a queue at the recharging points. The battery is guaranteed for 10 years, though I was assured it would last 15. It seems that the car will then be obsolete, as replacing the battery would cost more than a new car (the same as a mobile phone). Son assures me that batteries will improve over time, so unless you are particularly eager, it’s possibly better to wait a few years for the next grade of electric mini. It was temptingly nice though…
Thanks for reading. I hope you see something interesting this week.
Love, Anne x