2009 Mini E Electric Vehicle

Don Sherman

Lifting off the accelerator triggers regenerative braking, which converts unwanted momentum into electricity used to charge the batteries. With up to 0.3 g of electric deceleration available, the friction brakes will die of boredom in city traffic.

The 573-pound battery pack riding in the back seat does wonders for weight distribution. Surfing through the waves of midday shoppers, the Mini E felt nearly as agile as its piston-powered counterpart.

The Mini E's state-of-charge gauge read 63 percent at the beginning of my seven-mile test run and 45 percent upon return to base. That indicates a total range of 39 miles, a far cry from the 155 miles BMW measured running an EPA urban driving cycle on a chassis dynamometer. Chalk it up as one very real-world electric-car data point.

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