‘Pacesetter’ isn’t the usual word mash-up we associate with MINI, unlike ‘Paceman’, ‘Clubman’, or ‘Countryman’. It’s a new term fresh made up for this eccentrically bold, yet beautifully modified MINI Electric - or Cooper SE as it’s known in certain markets, like ours.
It has recently been named as the new safety car for the Formula E championship, fitting given it’s the first fully electric model from the British-German premium compact carmaker. According to them, they’ve tapped into the rich racing history of John Cooper Works to create the Pacesetter.
“We have already shown how well driving fun and electric mobility go together with the MINI Electric,” says Bernd Körber, Head of MINI. “The MINI Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW goes at many steps further and blends the performance character of the John Cooper Works brand with electric mobility.”
“This extreme version of the MINI Electric has been developed as the Safety Car for Formula E, so is clearly not intended for use on public roads. But it does reveal one of the directions we could take with the electrification of the JCW brand. For me, the message is clear: electrification and John Cooper Works are a good fit,” Mr. Körber continued.
There are clearly many hints of the bonkers JCW GP hatch in here, with echoes of the MINI performance flagship including the large roof-mounted rear wing, aero-correct front splitter, racing-style livery (orange on black on silver never looked this good), and those 18-inch sport alloys wheels. Naturally, they’re wearing a set of Michelins, the official tyre sponsor of the race series.
To ensure that the little MINI is quick enough to keep the Formula E race cars at bay when deployed, a lot of weight had to be shed. The rear seats, most of the sound insulation, infotainment gear, and even the door handles have been ditched. Colin Chapman would approve.
Certain components were also swapped out for much lighter carbon fibre replacements, most prominently observed with the steering wheel and centre console. It will surely need all the assistance it can get to whip around the Formula E circuit fast enough to lead a pack of hungry drivers and their silent open-wheel race cars.
However, giving the car the additional ‘pace’ it needed also meant an extensive suspension and safety kit upgrade, wherein three-way-adjustable race-spec coilovers were fitted alongside new control arm mounts, a 10mm wider track, a big brake package, and a full roll cage and six-point harnesses. All told, it’s now 130kg lighter than the standard MINI Electric.
What’s unchanged here is the powertrain, which means an unaltered single electric motor driving the front wheels supplied by a 32.6kWh lithium-ion battery. Power is also fixed at 181hp and 280Nm of torque. Thanks to that weight reduction, the MINI Pacesetter now sprints to 100km/h from rest in 6.7 seconds - a 0.6s improvement.
The MINI Electric Pacesetter will see action for the first time in Rome on 10 April 2021 at the second event of Formula E’s 2021 calendar. At the wheel will be official FIA Formula E Safety Car driver Bruno Correia.