2010 MINI E Review

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2010 MINI E Overview

According to new regulations in California, car manufacturers are now required to offer zero-emissions options in their lineups - as such, we now have the MINI E. Of course, when I say “we,” I mean 500 lucky people in the Southern California and greater NYC areas will have the MINI E. An $850-per-month one-year lease assures you of a home-charging kit and full service and maintenance for the duration, time BMW will use to evaluate the project and subtly enter the electric-car market.

The MINI E gets a 150kW, 220Nm electric motor, figures that translate to 204 hp and 162 lb-ft of torque, enough to deliver the car to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds. With a 35kW/H lithium-ion battery pack, the MINI E has a range of at least 155 miles, obtainable from a 2.5-hour charge at the home unit. Regenerative engine braking is also utilized, and careful use of the accelerator should extend that range noticeably. That said, careful use of the accelerator might be an elusive practice, as its single-stage helical gearbox produces power on demand, no matter when you stomp on it. It’s enough to chirp the tires and even induce slight torque steer, plenty of fun in reserve.

The MINI E is produced without a drivetrain at BMW’s Oxford facility, while the engine and battery are produced at AC Propulsion in San Dimas, California. From there, both are shipped to the Munich facility and assembled. The battery is housed where the rear seats lie in a traditional MINI Cooper, severely cutting storage space to just over 2 cubic feet, enough for a couple of grocery bags. The MINI E also gains some weight, showing a 3,230-pound curb weight, 562 more than the MINI Cooper S. Because of this, the suspension has been re-tuned to handle the extra weight and different distribution.

Visually, the MINI E shows little change, other than badging and the distinct lack of any exhaust. Even the fuel-filler cap remains, albeit to hide the charging outlet. Inside, the tachometer and fuel gauge have been replaced by a charge and power gauge, respectively, and of course it totally lacks a rear seat.

Now, we’re certainly not fools. This is a marketing stunt coupled with an information-gathering endeavor. Will we see more MINI Es driving around in years to come? Perhaps. But at any rate, the information gathered here will definitely be applied toward any further electric endeavors BMW is planning down the proverbial road.

Updated
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A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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