MINI has previewed its first plug-in hybrid model that promises to encapsulate the driving fun that is the brand’s hallmark with zero tailpipe emissions.
Featuring an internal combustion engine mated with an electric motor, the car is now in the final stages of its development process.
Head of MINI brand management Sebastian Mackensen and Head of MINI series management Peter Wolf offer insight into this new near- series test vehicle, and explain how it retains go-kart feeling in the true spirit of a MINI during a test drive of this model.
“With this model we want to convince MINI customers of the benefits of hybrid drive and impress everyone who already has hybrid driving experience with MINI’s unique go-kart driving feel”, says Mackensen.
The key to achieving this lies in intelligent energy management which is used to control how the combustion engine and electric motor operate together. For this reason, MINI describes its plug-in hybrid model as not solely focused on efficiency, but uncompromising in pursuit of driving fun.
At first glance, you wouldn’t recognise the test car as a hybrid model. And that’s not because of the camouflage foil used. The charging socket for the high-voltage battery is discreetly integrated in the left Side Scuttle.
Everything also looks familiar in the cockpit. The start/stop button in the centre of the dashboard glows yellow instead of red. The rpm counter in the instrument cluster on the steering column has been replaced with a power display.
The car’s high-voltage battery is stored under the rear seats and in Auto eDrive mode, the car is capable of driving in full electric only mode as speeds of up to 80km/h. In MAX eDrive mode, it goes up to 125km/h – much higher than most plug-in hybrids on the market today.
The company says the MINI hybrid handles much like its conventionally powered counterpart, 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.
“As far as the chassis and suspension are concerned, nothing changes from the conventionally driven model variants and the set-up benefits a lot from the hybrid concept,” says Wolf.
Expect the full reveal sometime in 2017.