MINI charges ahead into electric future

If the idea of an electric car hasn’t had you plugged in by this point, MINI’s newest creation might just change your mind.

Head of MINI brand management Sebastian Mackensen and Head of MINI series management Peter Wolf with test electric MINI

The British premium brand, today presented its very first plug-in hybrid MINI which combines driving fun with zero tailpipe emissions. Currently in the final stages of the development process, the iconic model is soon to be debuted to the world in all its electric glory. Featuring a combustion engine and an electric motor allowing purely electric propulsion, this is a first for MINI. It’s a new era for the brand as it enters the future of the automotive industry, bringing with it a new excitement from its loyal customers and those drivers yet to experience the thrill of a hybrid.

We get an insight into this new near-series test vehicle from the Head of MINI brand management Sebastian Mackensen and Head of MINI series management Peter Wolf who ensure the true spirit of the newest creation has been retained during a test drive.

“With this model we want to convince MINI customers of the benefits of hybrid drive”, says Mackensen, “and impress everyone who already has hybrid driving experience with MINI’s unique go-kart driving feel.”

Looking past the camouflage, the first impressions of the test car might not make any hybrid changes visible. The reason for this is that the charging socket has been discreetly integrated in the left side scuttle. Going inside, it all looks quite the same in the cockpit but it’s not until you press the start button that you notice the quietness coming from the hybrid model as it always starts in electric mode. Drivers are advised to keep a close eye on the display for the first few miles as it shows the car’s power reserve before the combustion engine fires up. And if you’re not familiar with how it works, it depends upon the car’s speed and the intensity of the driver’s acceleration.

“After a short time, the driver gets a feel for this”, promises Wolf. And this new driving experience is still incorporating the driving fun the model is known for. The high-voltage battery provides power for long sustainable electric driving beyond city traffic pace. The AUTO eDRIVE standard mode permits speeds of up to 50 mph, whilst in MAX eDRIVE mode speeds of up to 78 mph are possible.

As well as fast acceleration, the MINI hybrid embraces its go-kart driving feel around the bends too. Mackensen puts through its paces and the electric model shows it is worthy as Wolf says “As far as the chassis and suspension are concerned, nothing changes from the conventionally driven model variants and the set-up benefits a lot from the hybrid concept.”

It might even be said that the MINI was created to be a hybrid all along. Will you be charged to move into the electric market after seeing this?

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By Preeti Sanghera