An electrified MINI Cooper has been spied undergoing winter tests, and from these images it appears to be a fully electric test mule in three-door guise. We’ve had a pure-EV MINI before, in the form of the 2008 MINI E that was based upon the R56 MINI Cooper.

That car, though released to private users for deployment in everyday conditions, however was on a field trial-leasing basis, after which the vehicles were returned to BMW for evaluation, which effectively fed development of the BMW i3. There has since been the MINI Electric Concept, which would appear to be a closer approximation of the car that will materialise from this test mule.

Just as the original MINI E led to the i3, so the trail comes full circle back the the MINI Cooper E, which is expected to adopt its electric powertrain from the updated i3 or i3s. In its more powerful guise, the i3s offers 184 hp and 270 Nm of torque from its electric motor, which is fed by a 94 Ah lithium-ion battery. Having two pure-EV BMW variants could make room for Cooper E and E S (or, S E?) variants, aligning with the petrol line-up.

Driving range is tipped to be up to 400 km, according to Japanese publication Cliccar, with an 80% charge said to be attainable in 40 minutes. This is a big gain on the i3s’s 280 km NEDC-rated range if true, which could mean a considerable step up in battery capacity or technology to enable said gain.

As indicated at the Frankfurt unveiling of the MINI Electric Concept, the pure-EV MINI is slated for production in 2019, and so far the external clues to its EV nature is the rather more enclosed front grille, and the absence of any exhaust pipe at the back and of course, stickers on its body denoting ‘Electric Test Vehicle.’ Instant, electric torque in a keen MINI Cooper chassis, sounds like a tantalising prospect, doesn’t it?

GALLERY: MINI Electric Concept