The steering is imprecise and when cornering at over 30mph you feel as if you’re fighting the car’s inertia. On the plus side, given the sub-two-metre wheelbase, the turning circle is incredibly tight.
With such small tyres, any potholes you encounter are keenly felt in the cabin. The Macaron version adds a button to select the Sport and Eco driving modes; Sport not only offers better responsiveness but also makes the braking regeneration far more noticeable. But at only 700kg, the car has little mass to bring to a stop, and true one-pedal driving isn’t possible.
There’s a choice of a 9.3kWh or 13.8kWh battery pack. However, with only a slow charger interface, refilling the latter takes nine hours.
The Mini EV has a top speed of 62mph, and on an expressway we managed to reach just over 50mph – an experience that was much less unnerving than expected.
At least there are some concessions to safety: while the original Mini EV’s featured little more than the steel body cage, anti-lock brakes and Isofix anchors for child seats, the Macaron adds a driver’s airbag.
It would be easy to compare the Mini EV unfairly with pricier and better-equipped cars. You must appreciate that for many buyers, this will be their first car or their only option, and it’s infinitely safer than piling a family onto a motorbike or electric scooter – a sight not too uncommon in China.