The North Loop of the Nürburgring, 20.8 kilometres of motor-sport history, was once named the “Green Hell” by three-times Formula 1 World Champion Jackie Stewart. It is still the regular venue for ultimate endurance tests even 43 years after the last Grand Prix race for automobiles was held there.
Every new model of the MINI brand has to put its performance characteristics to the test on the challenging circuit located in the Eifel mountains. And the legendary circuit is just the right testing ground for the new MINI Cooper SE (combined fuel consumption: 0.0 l/100 km; combined electricity consumption: 16.8 – 14.8 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km).
It puts the car’s exceptional qualities to the test by requiring it to master completely new challenges. However, rather than hoping for lap records, the first all-electric vehicle from the British premium automobile manufacturer is looking for records of a very different nature.
Maximum efficiency and a high level of sensitivity in the right foot are needed if the new MINI Cooper SE is to negotiate the “Green Hell” in Green Mode without touching the brake pedal.
The new MINI Cooper SE is the first electrified model from the BMW Group in which the driver can individually determine the extent of recuperation and the associated deceleration effect. Depending on the mode selected, the electric motor supplies more or less energy back to the high-voltage battery as soon as the driver takes their foot off the pedal.
The braking effort associated with toggling the electric motor to engage generator operation is correspondingly high or low. The technological innovation offers the incentive for a very special type of challenge.
How fast can the new MINI Cooper SE take curves like the right hander at the Bergwerk (mine), the Caracciola-Karussell (carousel) or the right-left switchback from the Stefan-Bellof-S going on to Schwalbenschwanz (Swallow’s Tail) without the driver having to touch the brake pedal a single time?
Ideally, the new MINI Cooper SE would complete the efficiency test on the Nürburgring in Green Mode. Alongside a comfort-related characteristic steering curve, this setting for the MINI Driving Modes also encompasses a rather less spontaneous response from the actuator.
There is also an option to activate the Green + Mode using the right-hand toggle on the characteristic switch panel beneath the central instrument. This additionally deactivates the automatic climate control and the seat heating in order to save more energy. The recuperation mode is selected with another toggle switch to the left of the start/stop button.
This enables the driver to use the one-pedal feeling typical of the new MINI Cooper SE to suit their individual preferences in order to increase the dynamic performance and efficiency simultaneously in all-electric driving round fast bends.
The level of brake energy regeneration and hence also the deceleration can be harmonised with the driving style and to suit the track profile. Timely toggling ensures soft recuperation ahead of extended bends and full energy recovery with corresponding deceleration ahead of tight curves without the driver’s foot having to touch the brake pedal.
If we take Brünnchen (Small Well) as an example at kilometre 16, professionals recommend approaching the sharp right-hand corner on the left-hand side of the track and starting to turn into it at an early stage. The full recuperation performance is necessary here in order to avoid being carried over the curbs at the left-hand edge.
Conversely, slow deceleration is adequate before the second right-hand curve of this circuit section, particularly since there is hardly any time to put pedal to metal. This takes drivers energetically into the Eiskurve (Ice Bend) and they emerge full of verve in the direction of Pflanzgarten (Plant Garden).
Anything that goes on the Nürburgring will also provide the additional portion of driving fun in everyday traffic that is so typical of the MINI style for local zero-emission mobility. Model-specific displays in the cockpit of the new MINI Cooper SE also help during fast changeover between sharp and wide curves when selecting the most appropriate recuperation mode.
A standard setting is the particularly intensive brake energy regeneration that results in negative deceleration of 0.19 g. The change to soft recuperation with a value of 0.11 g is confirmed by feedback in the digital instrument cluster of the new MINI Cooper SE. Furthermore, only one of the two LED light fields is still active in the recuperation display. At the same time, a yellow LED lamp lights up at the front of the toggle switch.
The first lap in the “Green Hell” already reveals the extent to which the two-stage recuperation increases driving fun in tandem with efficiency. This becomes evident directly behind the Galgenkopf (Gallow Hill) bend.
Here the new MINI Cooper SE can make good use of all the energy that has been stored in its high-voltage battery during recuperative deceleration instead of being expended while braking. Nothing now stands in the way of a brilliant finish over the Döttinger Höhe (Döttingen Height).