Mini Electric Convertible

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The only car to combine true drop-down motoring and electric propulsion, this Convertible comes at a price

The Mini Electric hatch is many things, but a long-distance cruiser isn’t one of them, with its range being just 144 miles. And yet by building an Electric Convertible with the same 28.9kWh battery, this time yielding 124 miles, the British brand has pulled off the seemingly impossible and made the hatch look like an endurance beast. I’m being flippant, of course, but it does illustrate the compromise that is a fundamental aspect of this rare-breed EV. Rare because there aren’t any rivals (even the Abarth 500e Cabrio is a landaulet, not an actual drop-top) and only 999 will be made, 150 of them for the UK. At £52,500, even that feels like an optimistic target. A BMW i4 electric saloon could be yours for less, or indeed a 2.0-litre Audi TT Roadster. One therefore questions the reason for what must have been an expensive engineering exercise. The official line is that Mini wants to be first with a convertible EV, but reading between the lines, I think it’s testing the water ahead of the all-new Mini electric hatchback (coming in 2024) and an as-yet-unconfirmed electric convertible version of it. With a real-world range of less than 100 miles (even in summery Mallorca, it predicted only 93 miles), this is strictly an urban runabout. As you would hope, the Electric Convertible has been given extra strengthening to cope with the loss of the tin roof. It thus feels secure and lacks much scuttle shake. The cost is weight – an extra 105kg of it. As such, the 0-62mph time slips to 8.2sec, a 0.9sec deficit, although that hardly makes many odds when the wind is in your hair. Like the BMW i3, the Electric Convertible uses BMW’s patented ‘hybrid synchronous’ motor design, yielding better power density and a wider power band than most. As in the i3, it’s effective in practice, giving the sort of reaction and pace that’s missing from most EVs; even at 80mph-plus, it doesn’t feel like it’s running out of puff. There are various driving modes that tweak the throttle reactivity and steering weight (Sport right through to Green Plus), along with adjustable regenerative braking for the possibility of one-pedal driving. I found it best to stick it in Mid (one below Sport) and leave the regen off. That way, it was easier to relax into the drive, which is surely the point of a Convertible. Near-silent running suits the drop-top Mini, and the suspension has been wound off from some of the feistier hatch variants to good effect. The roads in Mallorca are of a generally pretty decent quality, but the damping feels like it could cope with Britain’s more broken blacktop. It may be badged a Cooper S, but the Electric Convertible isn’t the last word in handling. Suffering from the extra weight and height of the Convertible body, it doesn’t dart into apexes like the best of the breed. The steering is linear, but the chassis don’t have the adjustability and interest of the ICE hatches. It’s good at pottering, less so at exciting. Options are extremely limited on the Electric Convertible. You can pick an Enigmatic Black or a White Silver paint scheme and that’s it. Each car also gets a ‘1 of 999’ on the door sill, but they won’t be individually numbered – a pity, given the cost of the car. And that really is the rub with the Electric Convertible. It may be limited in numbers, but what price rarity?
Source: Autocar

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