The infamous Nürburgring-Nordschleife is to auto racing as K2 is to mountaineering — a technical challenge and performance benchmark recognized around the world. Any car worth its salt gets flogged at the ‘Ring, where the only thing that matters is the time on the clock. So when we heard BMW took a “race-prepped” version of the Mini E electric car to the Green Hell, our interest was more than piqued.
Let’s get right to the bottom line: The Mini E Race, as BMW calls the little EV, lapped the Nürburgring in 9 minutes 51.45 seconds and hit a top speed of 116.19 mph.
Not bad. Not bad at all.
Although a supercar like the Gumpert Apollo or the Corvette ZR1 will cover the 20.8 kilometer distance in 7 minutes and change, the electric Mini’s time is on par with the Volkswagen Scirocco 2.0 TSI and the BMW 318d.
“The length and profile of the Nordschleife place extreme demands on the technology of our electric car,” Peter Krams, who led the project, said. “But the Mini E Race met this considerable challenge with great authority. The aim of this unique undertaking was to provide an impressive showcase of the great potential of the Mini E and its environment-friendly drive concept.”
The race-prepped ride shares the same 150 kilowatt (204 horsepower) electric motor and 35 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery as the Mini E we drove last year.
BMW pared 400 pounds from the stock Mini E (typical racing practice), dropped the center of gravity by a little more than 100 millimeters and dropped the transmission ratio from 8.94 to 7.82. While the stock Mini E is electronically limited to 95 mph, BMW uncorked the “race” version. But apart from raising the motor’s maximum revs to 13,000 RPM and adjusting the engine management settings, the system is surprisingly stock.
Inside there’s a Recaro race seat with a six-point safety harness, a suede-covered steering wheel and a rollcage that weighs 70 pounds. The suspension was reworked with KW Variant 3 coilovers. The engineers gave the car a race-spec ABS braking system and improved the aerodynamics with diffusers and a rear wing.
Driving duties were handled by former Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters racing hotshoe Thomas Jäger.
“I’ve driven this circuit many times, but never in such an extraordinary car,” Jäger said in a statement. “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.”
Photos & Video: BMW
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The stock Mini E next to the “race-prepped” version, which shares the same motor and battery pack.