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If you were asked to picture a typical electric vehicle (EV) owner, you probably wouldn’t think of James Watson. The 46-year-old from Stoney Creek, Ontario, isn’t a tech bro or an inner-city environmentalist. He’s a long-time car enthusiast who runs an automotive studio and collects MINIs. Seeking a reliable daily driver in 2016, he realised that EVs had begun to compete with traditional cars on price and took the plunge on a lease. Four years and 100,000 kilometres later, he was hooked. So, he decided to combine his passions to test out Canada’s first MINI Cooper SE, the electric version of the company’s popular MINI three-door hatch. This experience is quite common for first-time EV drivers. The electric car’s environmentally-friendly reputation belies serious power: because they don’t have to shift gears like their gas-powered counterparts, they can hit maximum torque from a standing start. And when that’s paired with a low centre of gravity (thanks to the location of the battery) and go-kart like handling, as in the MINI, the effect is even sportier. Result: the first-timer grin. “My wife actually didn’t like driving the car on Sport Mode, because she said it was too zippy,” Watson says. “So I’ve had to show her how to turn on Green Mode, which is more about range than performance.”

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