The various different variants of BMW's MINI are in danger of seeing this contemporary icon spread a little bit thin. As well as the standard model, there's a cabrio, Clubman 'estate' and the recently unveiled Crossover Concept which points the way to next year's compact 4x4 version. A MINI SUV verges on the oxymoronic, which is why we believe the very latest MINI model is a true return to form.
The MINI E is an all-electric version of everyone's favourite small city car, a move to pre-empt the inevitable loss of market share to the new breed of diminutive machines by high-end manufacturers.

Raf Simons

Click here to see the two latest MINI models
The MINI E isn’t an over-the-counter solution just yet. With only 500 units made, the first batch will be strictly for evaluation purposes only, leased out to lucky customers.
The all-electric car is limited to two people - batteries take up the rear seats. By eschewing the current fashion for hybrids, MINI still manage to eke out a decent performance, including a 95mph top speed and a respectable 8.5 second dash to 62mph. The car is designed to plug into a standard power output, and there's also a 'wallbox' that can provide a full charge in just 2.5 hours. Clearly the first step towards a mass-market electric model, the MINI E is a trailblazer for zero emissions.
Compare this with the new John Cooper Works model, named for the man who turned 'Cooper' into a part of British motoring folklore. Essentially a highly tuned version of the already-perky Cooper S, the JCW model has almost too much zip for everyday urban driving. Instead, the snappy acceleration, grabby brakes and almost comically direct steering cry out for a private race track or at least a clear stretch of twisty road.
The E and the JCW offer two very different characters under a similar skin; maybe the ultimate garage should contain one example of each?