Our friends at Edmund’s Inside Line drove the MINI E recently at the LA Autoshow and have what is likely the best review and most insight into the car’s creation and future. Here’s an excerpt:

>There were no great plans for a cute and cuddly electric Mini. When BMW decided it needed an electric car in January 2008, the Project i engineers looked around for an off-the-shelf solution.

>”If the electric-drive components would have been better fitted to the BMW 1 Series, we would have done the conversion to the 1 Series,” Ulrich Knieps, vice president of corporate communications for BMW AG product and technology, tells us.

>Though everything fits, the now two-seat 2009 Mini E weighs 3,230 pounds — over 500 pounds more than a Cooper S.

>”A conversion is always a bad compromise,” Peter Ratz, vice president of development for the Mini E, concedes. “The ideal architecture would be purpose-built. You have to choose the right axle for the electric motor, and the batteries should not intrude on cabin space.

>”If I had the chance to start from scratch on an electric car with some performance, I would go for rear-axle drive.” Rear-wheel drive, he says, makes better use of an electric motor’s instant torque response.

>At the same time, Ratz maintains that the subcompact footprint of the Mini is right for future electric-car architecture.

They go on to give a less than stellar summary of the drive…

>We’re not terminally opposed to electric cars — we rather liked the eRuf. But this particular conversion drains the personality from one of the most personable cars on the market. After driving the 2009 Mini E, we want to hold the Mini Cooper S close and never let it go.

You can read more below:

+ One Lap of Beverly Hills in the Electric Mini Cooper / Insideline