MINI Electric Pacesetter is the JCW-inspired Formula E safety car, but could it hit the road, too?

Whilst the new MINI Electric Pacesetter won’t be winning any races in Formula E this year, it will play a significant part as the safety car. It’s inspired by the popular John Cooper Works MINIs and could well be heading for the road in due course.  

MINI isn’t exactly being shy about the fact that it has road-going aspirations for a car that is at least similar to the Pacesetter. MINI has already been developing a JCW and Head of MINI, Bernd Körber, has essentially said as much.  

“This extreme version of the MINI Electric has been developed as the Safety Car in the 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.” 

MINI Electric Pacesetter – built for motor racing

The MINI Electric Pacesetter has been designed alongside BMW Motorsport to fill the role of safety car from a technical and performance point-of-view. It is fundamentally based on an off-the-shelf MINI Electric but has been heavily modified.  

For example, it’s shed 130kg compared to the road-going version to bring the kerb weight down to 1230kg. This has had a dramatic impact on the performance figures delivered by the 181bhp motor which it shares with the standard car, knocking 0.6 seconds off the 0-62mph time and dropping it to 6.7 seconds. In the mid-range, where the Pacesetter will spend most of its time, the 37-75mph time has come down by 0.3 seconds to 4.3 seconds.  

The chassis has had a full workover, now sporting three-way adjustable coilovers which can be tuned for compression, rebound, height and camber. Track width is up 10mm and four-pot brakes combine with the energy recuperation for strong braking. Given the standard MINI Electric’s handling prowess, we can only imagine how the lighter, sharper Pacesetter feels! 

JCW styling 

A feature of all John Cooper Works MINIs is the styling enhancements which play a role in the car’s performance, as well as looking cool.  

On the MINI Electric Pacesetter the wheel arches, front and rear aprons and spoiler all aid aerodynamics, helping to keep the MINI more planted at higher speeds. In addition to this function, they are all designed to be light and help shed weight. Spats and spoilers, for example, are 3D printed from recycled carbon fibre.  

As you’d expect from a car designed to lead a field of very fast Formula E cars around a track, the interior has been stripped back to focus the driving experience. To that end, everything has been removed, except for the front seats which are now appointed with six-point FIA-approved harnesses. The instrument cluster is now a small, digital unit and the centre console is made of exposed carbon fibre and houses the gearshift, handbrake and controls for lights.  

Further carbon fibre panels replace the door cards, and a welded in roll cage maximises the MINI Electric Pacesetter’s resilience should the worst happen.  

See the MINI Electric Pacesetter in action 

If you want to see the MINI Electric Pacesetter in action, the 2021 Formula E season is currently in progress. 


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