Mini E Test Drive

Test Drives | November 21st, 2008 by 15

The 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show was not just a big event for BMW fans, but also Mini nuts. BMW released the new, fully electric, …

The 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show was not just a big event for BMW fans, but also Mini nuts. BMW released the new, fully electric, 156 mile range, Mini E.

The presentation was a big media event. The deputy mayor of LA was on hand to speak on behalf of the Los Angeles market getting the Mini, and to congratulate and thank BMW. Not to sound offensive or, possibly to some, sexist, the deputy mayor was very good looking. Not many political women tingle my attractive senses, but she did.

Anyway, back to the important stuff. We were able to snag a full test drive and learners course on how to operate the Mini E. Think golf cart with fully body panels, oh, and a hell of a lot more power. 200 electric ponies, to be exact. 200 electric horsies powering the car immediately. There is no wait.

The demonstration of how to work the car was funny to me, but then again I find humor in all things. The question was asked of me by one of the qualified personal, “Have you ever driven an electric car?” in a typical German accent… While I wanted to reply with, “Yes, I drive them quite often. They’re all too common in the redneck areas of North Carolina, where I live”. But, I decided not too get tossed out of the car.

I had already gotten to be disliked by the German company who created the hard-top for the new G37 Convertible. The Infiniti rep asked me what I thought of the new car, to which I jokingly replied that the car was nice, except for the ugly top. The Infiniti rep and the two German men all laughed, but they were dirty laughs filled with strong dislike, especially from the Germans. Oh well. It’s Infiniti.

So, needless to say, I kept my odd comedy to myself on this one. There really isn’t anything difficult to understand about the Mini E. It’s all straightforward and very simple to comprehend. Don’t shut the car off, watch the percentage meter to see how much battery life you have left, don’t open the hood, or else the car will shut off. Simple, really. Just remember one simple thing… Hit the gas when you put it in drive. Petrol minded me took my foot off the brake after I put the car in drive. And, low and behold, I went nowhere, haha. I quickly realized that it was electric power and I needed to add contact pressure to the long, skinny pedal on the right. After I got that that memo down, the car went like stink.

I still can’t believe the on demand power, and all of the abundance of it. I was laughing the whole time in love and disbelief. One thing that I found particularly entertaining and funny was the torque steer. You could actually give the car a good push into a turn and feel the front wheels carry you through. It definitely felt like more torque steer than a regular Mini Cooper. But it’s something that really didn’t surprise me. There was one thing I didn’t think about until talking to Ray Wert of, it probably would not be very confidence inspiring in the rain. One good puddle, as Ray said, and you be in an area you didn’t intend on being. My favorite thing, personally, was not having to touch the brakes, hardly ever. Just take your foot off the accelerator and you’re instantly slowing down. It’s great if you’re going a tad fast and need to shave off some speed to not get caught by the kojak with a kodak.

Talking with BMW about everything, there are a few kinks they are working out, but it will all be straightened out by the time they go on sale next year.

Speaking of sale, I bet you’re wondering if the Mini E is really going to be for sale. Well, no. It’s actually a 1 year lease agreement that costs 850 dollars a month. With the lease agreement, BMW comes out to your house and sets up the 220-Volt power system that is used to repower the E. It takes about 4 hours for a full charge to be accumulated. There is one HUGE disadvantage, though. You can only lease the Mini E if you live in California, New York or New Jersey. Sad, because I would have leased one.

There are only a few draw backs to the Mini E. There’s no manual and it’s only a 2 seater and not much room for luggage or groceries with the batteries taking up the back seat and trunk. I know, get off my manual soapbox, but I love it. Other than that, it was cool. It’s still easy to see that electric power is no immediate solution to getting off of oil. Especially with a short range of 156 miles. That’s just meant for city driving. And since the average American does about 75 miles a day, on average, most shouldn’t have an issue.

I would, since I sometimes drive 100-200 miles in a day.

Article by Josh from

  • roffle waffle

    great stuff. Too bad the 1 series electric will be.. what… 3800lbs? hahahah

  • okeribok

    hold on…
    no rear seats and no boot? why did they use a mini then. Why not a z4?

  • Horatiu B.

    @roffle waffle: I don’t think the 1er electric will make it into production, it will be mostly a showcase of their technology and what to expect from Project i. I still believe the Isetta brand will be revived.

  • Clara

    That’s not a bad idea.

    Bmw is reinvisioning “green” with “blue” as a premium option. Why not introduce it on a sports car? The Tesla has already established the credibility for that. Not that the Mini isn’t a sports car…. it’s really just BMW’s Beetle.

  • RawAutos

    @Clara: The Mini is not BMW’s Beetle. The Beetle is a different type of icon for a different type of person. The Mini Cooper is a rally and racing legend. It’s starred in movies as the getaway car. The Beetle and the Mini Cooper can’t be put in the same sentence.

  • Clara

    @RawAutos: Well….. what about herbie?

  • Michael

    The problem with the Mini E, just like any electric car, is the mess that is the US power grid. If even as small a number as 10% of Americans all came home every day and plugged their cars in around 6pm, the results would be disastrous. And even if the grid could support it, we’re generating home power by burning coal and oil in most cases, so it’s not really any cleaner and it’s still using fossil fuels. Now if we built more wind and nuclear plants…


    love the new 5 series bmw

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