Mini will mimic Tesla's strategy of playing up the performance aspect of electric powertrains when it launches its first volume EV next year in the form of an electric Hardtop.

That's according to Autocar's sources in Mini's engineering department, who claim the car will be positioned as a hot hatch as opposed to an eco-friendly model.

As a result, the car will reportedly arrive as a Mini Cooper S E Hardtop. The same designation currently used for the plug-in hybrid version of the Countryman.

We know from our spy shots of prototypes there won't be much to distinguish the electric version of the Hardtop from its internal-combustion siblings. Subtle differences will include a sealed grille and additional accent lighting, and naturally there won't be any exhaust pipes.

2020 Mini Electric spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2020 Mini Electric spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Mini remains quiet on specs, which is smart considering the pace at which the technology is changing. Autocar points to the BMW i3s powertrain being adopted, albeit with the electric motor positioned at the front axle in the Mini instead of at the rear like in the BMW.

The i3s motor is good for 181 horsepower, which is close to the 189 hp generated by the current Mini Cooper S Hardtop's 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4. Of course, the electric motor should provide plenty of low-end torque, too.

Range meanwhile is expected to be 200 miles or more. The i3s with a 42.2-kilowatt-hour battery is good for an EPA-rated 153 miles.

Look for the electric Hardtop to reach showrooms around the end of the year as a 2020 model.