Setting the pace

Setting the pace

Mini Electric Pacesetter Andres Pardo Gomez
Mini Electric Pacesetter Andres Pardo Gomez

Mini Thailand demonstrated its long-standing commitment to encouraging the adoption of electric mobility with the introduction of the Mini Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW, which connects the brand's electrified future with the rich racing history of John Cooper Works.

The Mini Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW was unveiled to Mini fans in Thailand at the 38th Thailand International Motor Expo 2021, and the Bangkok Post was invited to a private studio to get a closer look at this little beast. Many of you are already aware that it is the Formula E world championship 2021 safety car.

The car was built from the new Mini Electric in an unprecedented collaboration between Mini Design and BMW Motorsport, but Mini takes it a step further by incorporating the performance character of John Cooper Works (JCW).

The exterior was designed specifically for track use and represents the most dynamic interpretation of a Mini with all-electric power.

"The design is an exciting symbiosis of technical precision and emotion," explains Oliver Heilmer, head of Mini design. "Here, function dictates form, and many design elements have been shaped by technical considerations. For example, we worked closely with our colleagues at BMW Motorsport to develop the form of the wheel arches and front and rear aprons, and the optimisation programme for them included weight-saving measures. This visually striking, technically precise design language gives the car its pervasive sense of emotional engagement and excitement."

It features a body painted in matte silver with High Speed Orange trims and Curbside Red rear. The lightweight design principles and components makes its overall weight 130kg lighter than the standard Mini Electric, sprinting from 0-100kph in 6.7secs.

At the front of the car, classic Mini icons such as the circular headlights and hexagonal radiator grille create the familiar, easily recognisable Mini face. At the same time, signature John Cooper Works elements, such as wheel arches adapted to the car's track width and the deep front apron with additional front splitters to the left and right, enhance the sporting visuals of the front end. The blanked off radiator grille and Mini Electric logo point to the electric heart of the safety car.

As virtually no drive system cooling is required through the upper area of the grille, the front end is largely enclosed to aid aerodynamics. The only exceptions are the area below the grille and the eye-catching, almost squared-off apertures for brake cooling. The safety car's white flashing lights are integrated harmoniously into the bonnet stripes and extend over the roof to the rear end.

It also cuts an extremely dynamic figure from the side. The interplay of geometrically accentuated spats (with carefully placed aero edges) and sporty side skirts gives the car the appearance of powering forward even before it turns a wheel. Together with the increased-diameter wheels, which almost fill the wheel arches, the spats and spoilers are made -- or more precisely 3D printed from recycled carbon fibre -- in Oxford.

MINI Electric Pacesetter Andres Pardo Gomez

Yellow accent lines and surfaces on the aero elements (eg the spats, skirts and rear wing) provide a nod to the airflow optimisation taking place in these areas and add a visual flourish to the air deflectors and aero edges. The lightweight 18in forged wheels in bi-colour black-neon/orange design bring significant visual depth and added intricacy to the four-spoke items from the Mini John Cooper Works GP.

The rear end in black and Curbside Red metallic uses yellow accent surfaces to extend the eye-catching design language from the front end and flanks. The prominent roof-mounted rear wing with air through-flow and yellow accent lines also integrates the signal light unit and was 3D printed in Oxford.

The flared wheel arches accentuate the car's wide track and transition seamlessly into the pronounced rear apron. The rear apron has cut-outs around the wheels, clearing the view to the higher-grip racing tyres. Between the wheels sits an unadorned diffuser. When the car is viewed from this angle, the accents in energetic yellow and lack of exhaust tailpipes identify this as a car powered by an electric drive system.

The interior is stripped back to the absolute essentials; only the front seats remain. The driver's area consists of a certified seat with six-point belt approved for both racing and road use, a steering wheel with minimalist-design carbon fibre impact absorber and a digital instrument cluster.

MINI Electric Pacesetter. Photos: Andres Pardo Gomez

The central information display makes way for a carbon fibre cover here to further reduce weight. The centre console houses the gearshift lever, handbrake and controls for the necessary signal lights -- all in exposed carbon fibre.

The likewise pared-back carbon fibre door panels with window and door openers contain cloth straps to make closing the doors easier. Another central feature of the interior is the welded-in roll cage, which maximises safety.

The steering wheel's minimalist impact absorber and the boost panel on the right-hand side of the wheel are high-quality, custom-made components, likewise the centre console cowling and door panelling on the driver's side.

Another highlight are the removable pads on the sports seat, which are 3D-printed. The thickness, hardness and colour of the pads can be adapted as required according to the physiognomy, weight and personal taste of the driver at hand.

The kerb weight is approximately 1,230kg. The drive system -- also based on that found in the Mini Electric -- produces 135kW/184hp and 280Nm, which enables the Mini Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW to sprint from 0-100kph in 6.7secs (the standard model is 7.3secs) and from 0-60kph in 3.6secs (3.9secs in the standard model).

The drive system teams up with racing coil over suspension (three-way adjustable for rebound, compression, height and camber) to deliver maximum go-kart feeling. Race-spec suspension control arm mountings, a 10mm increase in track width, plus the four-piston brakes and wheels from the Mini John Cooper Works GP with Michelin Pilot Sport tyres (size 245/40 R18) round off the overall package.

To give you a brief in few seconds: this Pacesetter has a lot of interesting details, and 3D printing is playing a big part in the design and production. This Mini Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW is powered the same as the Mini Cooper SE we've driven on the road. Only the 120kg weight difference allows it to travel much faster than the street legal version. The rest is all about the look.

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