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Mini Cooper S Electric

I have said for sometime now that it should be illegal for anyone to make comments or have opinions about electric vehicles unless they have lived with one for a minimum of a week. It is far too easy for politicians or commentators to either say how fantastic they are, or rubbish them, when they have had no experience whatsoever of driving one or, more importantly, all the logistics involved with owning an electric vehicle.

The Mini Electric that was delivered to me looked a million dollars. Metallic white with bright yellow features, yes certainly an eyeful to behold.

The advertised maximum range of this particular EV is 140-145 miles from a full battery charge. I do have a wall box in my garage, but getting to it is a bit awkward as I have to move my 52 year old Mini out of the garage and put it on the road just to gain access to the box, a little inconvenient every time you want to charge the car, but that’s my problem. I guess if I owned an electric vehicle then I would consider spending a few hundred pounds on a wall box in a better place. Instead I took the easy option, and parked the Mini close to my front door and charged it from a 3-Pin plug instead.

Unfortunately, and here’s something to consider when owning or running an electric vehicle, the cable is so thick that the door won’t shut with the cable in place, but on this occasion the weather was kind so no real problem, except I could only charge during the day when I was home and obviously not at night. It took around 12 hours to get the car fully charged and the maximum (100%) I found was a range of 98 miles.

I had a trip to Manchester airport, so I thought I’d go in the Mini. From my home, the M62 proves to be the shortest route time wise and in distance we’re talking 52 miles each way. If I’d have taken the scenic route over Saddleworth Moor it’s only 38 miles, but takes longer.

Prior to me leaving home I checked with the car park at the airport and currently they do not have any charging facilities, so I had to think beforehand about the right route and what spare I’d be left with after the journey. I set off and took it very easy on the accelerator (another consideration) every time I could coast and produce a bit of electric, the more comfortable I felt, so there’s some psychology on driving a electric vehicle certainly. Going up the steep hill out of Holmfirth took its toll on the range and I’ll admit I did begin to panic and get a bit of ‘range anxiety.’

But for every hill you go up there is generally one to go down. I coasted down the hill to Dovestone and put some miles back on the range, phew. That anxiety had disappeared for now. There is a switch you can press on the dash to either let you freewheel a bit more, which generates less electricity, or press it the other way and it generates more, but take your foot off the accelerator and the car stops almost immediately, much to the annoyance of anyone behind you. You can also press a button to give you ‘Economy Plus’, which turns off just about everything electrical including the air-con and eek out a bot more range.

All the way to the airport I was looking for places I could stop on the way back just in case I needed a quick top-up of electric to get home, call it what you will, I’ll call it planning ahead. During the drive back home I decided I had enough range left to treat myself over the moors near Dovestone Reservoir to the Sport button. Despite it using more electricity, I’d calculated that I could try out this mode whilst still have enough to get me home. I did, and wow, it turned this very nice docile Mini into a bit of an animal, it was incredibly quick, yet being a Mini, it still felt incredibly safe and stable with superb road holding as yu would expect from a Mini, what a machine. But I soon turned off the Sport mode and went back to Mr Sensible. I coasted back down into Holmfirth, generated more electric, upset all those following me, by going very slowly, but by doing this I got back home with 35 miles range left in the batteries.

The Mini Electric is a great car to drive. It looks good, it’s built to a high quality and in Sport Mode is a hoot. Prices in the UK start from around £25,000. But like every other electric car, you have to drive them differently, plan your journeys, and be prepared to wait many hours to charge them up, it’s not as simple or as easy as popping down to the filling station to put some petrol or diesel in them, which takes minutes rather than hours if you charge from your normal wall socket. I really enjoyed driving the Mini Electric. A fun car that’s quick, clean and clever if you can live with the issues of any current electric car.

Martin Ward

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