The first plug-in hybrid MINI is readying for launch, with development almost completed. The 1.5-litre power unit works in parallel with an electric motor, which enables purely electric propulsion for the first time in a MINI.
MINI is promising that the car will be fun to drive, retaining the existing car’s ‘go-kart’ feel. There are few outward differences, but inside the start/stop button in the centre of the dashboard glows yellow instead of red. The tachometer has been replaced with a power display, which informs the driver about the electric motor’s power reserves before the petrol engine fires up. When exactly the combustion engine starts varies depending upon on the vehicle’s speed and how hard the driver presses the accelerator.
It’s a high-capacity hybrid, and MINI promises that this one maintains its zero-tailpipe emissions at motorway speeds. The high-voltage battery under the rear seats provides power for long-lasting electric driving. AUTO eDRIVE standard mode permits speeds of up to 50mph, and in MAX eDRIVE mode speeds of up to 78 mph are possible.
Peter Wolf, MINI’s Brand Manager, reckons it still drives as a MINI should: ‘As far as the chassis and suspension are concerned, nothing changes from the conventionally driven model variants,’ he says. ‘Thanks to the eDrive components, which are positioned very low down at the rear, the car’s centre of gravity is lowered and the weight is evenly balanced between the front and rear axle – ideal for achieving an even higher level of agility.’