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Mini Cooper S EV good but not ideal for a long haul

THERE’S NOTHING sad about being warned and being a jack I was, ignored that warning.

“Don’t you dare drive this car out of Gauteng, it will show you flames,” was the warning when the latest version of the Mini Cooper SE (the all-electric version of the Mini Cooper S) was delivered for a review.

Flames I saw, as I took it to North West for a neighbours’ unveiling of a tombstone.

Upon delivery only two bars were used and I took it for a spin to Soweto (head turner it was) and got back home for an overnight charge.

By the time I and my colleague Mdu Mphahlele left for Bokone Bophirima it was a full bar. The Mini Cooper SE has a relatively small battery pack, of which you can use around 33kW when the maximum charge is achieved.

It gives 33kW of electric juice at around 160km of electric range.

As traveling long distances is associated with buying food, water and other essentials, the battery got low and for a quick charge (as advised by the delivery guys) I opted to pop in at the Joburg BMW in Newtown and within an hour, it was full. Thanks to two, well informed gentlemen who were on hand to offer coffee whilst charging.

Off we went. With irritating traffic. I kept my eyes glued to the onboard computer that said I could do 161km in mid-mode until the battery ran flat.

Decent enough as I had about 100km worth of driving to do from Jozi to NW, how ignorant I was.

I set my destinations in the onboard navigation system as this really helps to ensure you can stay within a safe range of travel from home to your destination. Of course, if you use apps like Waze, you can navigate to charging points situated all over Gauteng in key points. But, I was driving outside Gauteng.

I kept on changing by driving from the Green and Green+ modes for some time, and guess what, its acceleration goes like a typical Mini Cooper is meant to. It cuts the aircon and limit your speed to 100km/h, but that’s ideal if you’re trying to hyper-mile the vehicle.

Its top speed is 150km/h, and it will hit 100km/h from a standstill in around 7.5 seconds.

You have to get used to these sorts of techniques when driving an EV, but you get used to it really quickly, and once you get the nag of it, even the limited range that you get in the Mini Cooper SE, it will be useable enough for a few days of driving between top-ups.

The car’s boot is cramped meaning you can’t take heavy stuff like the goods I bought. But because I don’t travel big, all managed to pack well.

The SE, comes with luxury and quality, and yes, you don’t get full leather or anything like that anymore in these premium cars; you do get a fresh and exciting interior with multicolour fabric seats made from recycled materials.

It has the apps over CarPlay if you smarphone, and access to music, navigation, other features and safety aids as per standard.

Having covered 70km of distance towards Ventersdorp, I could still do another 20km before it needed a full charge. We pulled in at the Engen Garage and spent the whole night for a full recharge.

Next morning off to Sanniedhof for the unveiling of tombstone, by the time we arrived the ceremony has finished and to ask around for another recharge.

Thankfully, some security guys at the Municipality offices understood our dilemma and we charged yet again.

The moral of the story: listen when being warned, finish & klaar!

Mini Cooper SE is not your ideal family car; but good if you’re still single like this fellow here.

It has the looks and very stylish. It is aggressive with its regeneration settings and since you are rarely hard on the brakes in the car, you could be changing brake pads and discs much less than you’re used to in these sorts of vehicles.

Of course, tyres can take a pounding as you’re unleashing lots of torque all at once sometimes, and EV tyres lean toward the softer side for this.

Ed Note: The Mini Cooper SE is not cheap, but that’s a fact we’re going to have to get used to if government incentives around EVs don’t improve in South Africa. At the moment, EVs are taxed as luxury cars, so this compact Mini should be way cheaper if the government got involved and gave buyers some form of cashback or incentive for going the EV route like they do in the UK and most parts of Europe and the USA

It comes with a five-year or 100 000km full maintenance plan, but you don’t have a lot to service when it comes to electric cars.

 
It retails for R706 400

Verdict

Performance 1-10 (6)

Electrical charging 1-10 (4)

Image (The Mini Copper S EV only good as an urban car).

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