MINI has unveiled a new car, which looks exactly the same as the others. The difference here, however, is that the new MINI will be a plug-in hybrid. This marks the first time the company has dabbled in the electric side of things. The thing is, will a PEV version serve to diminish the fun you can have behind the wheel of a MINI?

Head of MINI brand management Sebastian Mackensen and Head of MINI series management Peter Wolf offer insight into this new near-series test vehicle. They explain how it retains go-kart feeling in the true spirit of a MINI during a test drive of this model.

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Sebastian Mackensen and Head of MINI series management Peter Wolf

MINI Hybrid – keeping the fun

“With this model we want to convince MINI customers of the benefits of hybrid drive.” Says Mackensen. “And impress everyone who already has hybrid driving experience with MINI’s unique go-kart driving feel. The key to achieving this lies in intelligent energy management. It is used to control how the combustion engine and electric motor operate together. For this reason, the first MINI plug-in hybrid model is not solely focused on efficiency, but uncompromising in pursuit of driving fun.”

So the MINI should still be a hoot to drive, which is a relief. We’d hate for it to become dull in the wake of new technology. In fact, it should be even more fun given that the electric tech used here is a secondary power source. Brisk acceleration awaits, so it would seem.

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That’s a hell of a paint job

Testing the vehicle himself, Mackensen puts the car through its paces. He demonstrates that you need to step on the accelerator peddle very firmly indeed to activate the second power source. Then things really start happening. With the combined output of both drives, the first MINI hybrid vehicle demonstrates unparalleled acceleration performance when compared with its combustion-only siblings.

The Hybrid concept provides yet another benefit. The electric motor transmits its power to the rear wheels, the combustion engine to the front wheels. Since the intelligent energy management is linked to the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), traction and drive stability are optimised via the drive system. “As soon as there is any risk of drive slip, the second drive unit is activated. It provides additional traction when starting off or ensuring a high level of steering precision when cornering”, explains Wolf.

It’s all exciting stuff, and we can’t wait to get our hands on one!