MINI and BMW electric kids cars - with adult helmet to show scale

Great gift idea: buy the kids their own electric cars

With Christmas knocking on our doors next month we thought it was time to consider what the kiddies out there might want to find around the tree. iPad, no – too young, Playstation – nah, too annoying. Electric car – yeah, just the ticket for a few laps of the tree and drive!

Bring on the nice people at BMW and MINI who lent us some samples to play with. First up is a gorgeous electric MINI Cooper S convertible miniature; yours for a mere 249 Euros from www.mini.com/shop or 129 Euros in pedal car form. This deep metallic blue micro car is aimed at the 3-5 year old in your litter, comes with electric rechargeable pack and not much else. Unfortunately our particular sample got damaged en route, note to Santa: pack your sleigh a bit better pleeeeze. So ignore the crack on the rear left of the car, it certainly didn’t stop us bringing you this extreme car test.


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Electric MINI - looks gorgeous


Electric MINI - one wheel only is driven by the small electric motor

MINI
After installing a fuse that was taped to the manual and charging up the car overnight we pressed the green forward arrow, an LED lamp confirmed power and direction. Now just squeeze that dainty little electric accelerator pedal….except there’s no-one in the YW office small enough to be shoe-horned into the cosy confines of our sexy little beast. So holding steering wheel in one hand and gingerly prodding the pedal with the other, there’s a roar of 4 cylinder glory, squealing tyres and thunderous exhaust wail. Well, actually there’s a sewing machine whirr and we are going nowhere. You see, the electric MINI has only 1 wheel, yes 1 wheel drive, and the slippery plastic tyres are spinning uselessly on the wooden floor. Add to that the poor lock, and we decide to try it out on the drive, where progress is much better unless that single driven wheel drops into a dip or drain hole.


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Electric BMW 335i - adjustable seat!

BMW
Groundhog day: next morning a second huge box is safely delivered. It contains BMW’s equivalent product; a silver 335i convertible at 319 Euros (186 for the non-electric version). The spec and mechanicals are identical, but the surprise is how much larger it is. Surprise number two is that it’s equipped with rubberised tyres, meaning that it works in the office as well as outdoors. There’s an adjustable seat too. Otherwise there’s not much to tell other than their website at www.bmw-shop.com reveals an even tastier M3 Racing version with go-faster stripes an’ all.


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Power
Clearly a car aimed at toddlers+ doesn’t want to exceed parents walking pace, and the accelerator pedal is basically a one position switch. Speed proved to be adequate and commensurate. The current (pun-intended) watch word for the fashionable electric car world is “range anxiety”. In our test we never drained the battery and assume it goes on for a fair old way, or further than the parents of the kids are likely to want to walk. There’s none of the latest Li-ion, regenerative braking, or fuel cell technology on board – just plain old sealed micro lead-acid battery. For once the weight is useful for stability, and old tech lead-acid packs retain their charge for a surprisingly long time, useful for the child that only uses the car occasionally.

BMW and MINI at the start of the YW electric Grand Prix

Performance
As the only kids to hand were 6ft tall and would need one car for each foot, we enlisted some local lads and lasses to test drive for us. After a few pints down the local with their parents, we hatched a cunning plan to line them up on a start line and let them gun it around our very own test track – or rather the nearest close. Watch this space for the race report and video of a truly epic event!

MINI kids car - rear rump with accurate decals

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