Intent on being the first manufacturer to showcase the performance potential of its electric car as well as its clean, green character, BMW created this one-off MINI E Race to test its mettle on the daunting 13.8-mile Nordschleife circuit at Germany's legendary Nurburgring. Driven by ex-German Touring Car pilot Thomas Jaeger, this competition-spec MINI E managed to lap the famed "Green Hell" course in 9:51.45. While that's about a minute slower than a conventional MINI Cooper S model, it did reach a top speed of 115.9 mph -- nearly 21 mph faster than a production MINI E that is electronically limited to 95 mph.
Same heart, new soul
Although a number of significant changes were made to the MINI E Race, the car retained the same zero-emissions powertrain elements found its road-going counterpart: a 204-horsepower electric motor energized by a lithium-ion battery pack. Engineers also tweaked the electronic controller and changed the differential ratio to optimize it for the challenge at hand. Other MINI E Race mods included the fitment of a special lightweight body and a full roll cage, the addition of a stiffer suspension with lower ride height and upgraded wheels/tires/brakes.
For Jaeger, a Munich native and the 2006 MINI Challenge Series champion, squiring this unique variation on the MINI E theme around the world's most demanding benchmark lap proved both illuminating and rewarding. "I've driven this circuit many times, but never in such an extraordinary car. The power of the electric motor has an incredible effect, as you can access its full reserves of torque at all times. Another element of this fascinating experience is the lack of noise from the drivetrain. All in all, that was certainly the cleanest and quietest race lap I've ever driven."