Formula E has a new safety car and the battery-powered Mini Electric Pacesetter looks like a slot racer on steroids which is exactly how it’s described – the most dynamic interpretation yet of a Mini with all-electric power.
The feisty Pacesetter is born from the direct collaboration between MINI Design, BMW Motorsport, the FIA and Formula E and takes its lineage from the standard road-going ‘Mini Electric’. Whilst it’s obvious this firecracker isn’t meant for use on the public highway it does reveal one of the directions the JCW brand might just take with the electrification –
“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.”
BMW Motorsport’s input is clear, including 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.
Classic Mini circular headlights sit proudly at the front of the Pacesetter accompanied by the familiar hexagonal radiator grille, while 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. Characteristic MINI bonnet stripes extend over the roof to the rear end.
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Formual E – Stripped Bare
The interior is stripped back to the absolute essentials; only the front seats remain. The driver’s area consists of a certified seat with a six-point belt approved for both racing and road use, a steering wheel with a minimalist-design carbon fibre impact absorber and a digital instrument cluster. 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. And the remainder of the stripped-out interior structure is also painted in typical racing white (for functional reasons).
Its Quick – Its Light
Behind the visually powerful design of the MINI Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW lies the expertise of BMW Motorsport. Rigorous adherence to lightweight design principles gives the Safety Car a kerb weight of approx. 1,230 kg – which makes it approx. 130 kg lighter than the standard MINI Electric.
The drive system – also based on that found in the MINI Electric – produces 135 kW and 280 Nm (206 lb-ft), which enables the MINI Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW to sprint from 0-62 mph in 6.7 seconds (standard model: 7.3 s) and from 0-37 mph in 3.6 seconds (standard model: 3.9 s). Even more important for a Safety Car, though, are the mid-range figures. Here, the MINI Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW showcases all the talents of its torque-rich electric drive system with single-speed transmission, enabling a 75 mph time of 4.3 seconds (standard model: 4.6 s).