• Mini Announces the All-Electric Cooper SE and It’s Already Irrelevant

The SE has the looks, but not the specs to make a strong case for itself

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The intrusion of electrification into the market has not just changed the mechanical dynamics of a car, but has also brought in a new design philosophy altogether. But, let’s be real here for a minute. If there was one car or brand from the current crop that can nonchalantly slip into EV clothes, it is the Mini Cooper. Automakers are adopting crazy-ass designs for their EVs that may or may not please consumers, but an electric Mini? It can’t have any haters; in the looks department at least. However, it looks like the car is dead on arrival because things look pretty only on the outside. Going by the initial impressions, I’d say Mini missed a huge opportunity to make a name for itself.

The Mini Copper SE It Is A Looker For Sure

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Let’s start off by talking about its looks. "The first solely electrically powered model of the British brand", as Mini describes it, looks largely similar to the combustion-engine Mini Coopers. The same, retro looks are carried over that probably have no haters on this planet. The main differentiating factor is the grille on the face. Unlike the standard Coopers, the one on the Cooper SE is smaller in size and is filled-in. The round headlights house the running Daytime Running Lights as well.

The side profile looks distinct, especially because of the wheel design.

The wing mirrors are painted in green, and the fuel-filler door houses the charging port and features an electric logo on it. Black plastic cladding completes the bottom, thus giving it a slightly crossover-ish look. Overall, the body looks very proportionate, and the silhouette looks smashing.

Mini Announces the All-Electric Cooper SE and It's Already Irrelevant Exterior
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These wheels carry over the ’asymmetric pieces’ kind of a design that we saw on the concept car; but they are smaller here. A slim green stripe running is present on the border of the wheel that is subtle, yet very effective. The rear is the same old, other than the electric nomenclatures and a medallion on the tailgate, similar to the one present on the front grille.

The Mini Cooper SE is a Typical EV On The Inside

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On the inside, a 6.5-inch screen comes as standard that features navigation, displays powertrain information, and even offers suggestions to improve efficiency.

There’s a range circle as well that lets the drivers know how far they can travel at the current state of charge. This is quite a funky aspect and adds to the feel-good factor in long term ownership. If the 6.5-inch screen is small for you, you can opt for the larger 8.8-inch unit instead. The other features include yellow trim buttons on the dashboard and a stop-start toggle switch. A new infotainment scroll wheel is introduced as well, and even the manual handbrake makes way for the e-brake.

Is The "Go-Kart Feeling" The Mini Cooper SE’s USP?

Mini Announces the All-Electric Cooper SE and It's Already Irrelevant Exterior
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Mini has revealed the specs of the powertrain, but I believe it is the same one that powers the rear-wheel-drive BMW i3s. The electric motor generates 181 ponies and 199 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels and all the torque is available instantaneously. That’s the beauty of EVs. The Mini Cooper SE sprints from a standstill to 62 mph in 7.3 seconds and the speed is electronically-limited to 93 mph. BMW tried explaining this by saying, "innovative driving dynamics system with wheel slip limiting close to the actuator" that will offer "particularly intense and unmistakable agility, known as the go-kart feeling." Go-kart feeling? Well, I do like driving a go-kart occasionally, but as a daily commuter? A big no for me.

2020 Mini Cooper SE specifications
Engine Electric
Horsepower 181 HP
Torque 199 LB-FT
0 to 62 mph 7.3 seconds
Top Speed 93.2 mph
Range 146-168 miles
Battery 32.6-kWh lithium-ion
Mini Announces the All-Electric Cooper SE and It's Already Irrelevant Interior
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The Mini Cooper SE features four different drive modes - Green+, Green, Mid, and Sport.

They’re pretty much self-explanatory. Green+ opts for higher efficiency and lower performance, whereas Sport offers Lower efficiency and higher performance. The other two fit in between and provide a balance between the two. Another interesting this is that Mini has installed two levels of brake regeneration on the SE.

The Mini Cooper’s Battery Specs Are Absolutely Absurd

Mini Announces the All-Electric Cooper SE and It's Already Irrelevant Exterior
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The Mini Cooper SE will be offered with a 32.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that is placed deep within the vehicle floor to ensure a low center of gravity for better stability and driving dynamics, and to make sure the cargo area remains as spacious as the regular Mini Cooper. However, Mini claims a range of just 146 to 168 miles! The Mini Cooper SE can be plugged into the standard household outlet, but it will take ages for to get charged. Mini offers a Level 2 AC option that offers a maximum charging capacity of 7.4 kW, while DC fast-charging up to 50 kW will allow charging up to 80-percent in just 35 minutes!

Mini Announces the All-Electric Cooper SE and It's Already Irrelevant Exterior
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This based on the new WLTP test cycle and adapted to NEDC for comparison purposes, which means the U.S. figures will be even lower. This is absolutely absurd given how to competition fares in this department. The Nissan Leaf+ offers 226 miles, Chevy Bolt can hover around for 238 miles before feeling thirsty, whereas the Hyundai Kona Electric offers 258 miles on a full charge. With people getting more and more conscious about the economy, the Mini Cooper SE is effectively dead on arrival. Why even bother create a product that can’t last long? What makes it even worse is that Mini repeated the same mistakes that BMW did with the i3. The i3 did not have much competition when it was launched, but Mini has launched the SE in a segment filled with efficient, accomplished EVs.

Is The Mini Cooper SE The First Electric Mini?

Mini Announces the All-Electric Cooper SE and It's Already Irrelevant Exterior
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It’s not. Back in 2008, Mini launched the Mini E at the Los Angeles Auto Show. This little electric car was part of the BMW Project i and was primarily developed just for field trials in ’potential’ countries back then. In 2009 BMW Group leased out a fleet to general folks residing in the U.S. and the U.K. The Mini E was effectively the electric version of the Mini Cooper hatch. The powertrain developed 201 horses and 220 pound-feet of twist which powered the front wheels. Mini claimed a range of 156 miles from the 35-kWh battery pack, although it delivered around 100 miles on a single charge in real-world mixed conditions.

On a side note, Mini also plans to launch a rival to the Smart electric car series that will be a lovechild of the BMW and Great Wall Motor collaboration in China.

The joint venture is called Spotlight Automotive and the little EV will be known as the Mini Rocketman. The production of the same is expected to begin in 2022. Looks like the Mercedes-Benz and BMW are taking their battle to an all-new segment altogether.

Did BMW’s CEO Quitting Have Anything To Do With This?

Mini Announces the All-Electric Cooper SE and It's Already Irrelevant Exterior
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Unless you live under the rock, you know that BMW’s CEO, Harald Krueger, quit his post as the CEO even though his contract was up for renewal in two weeks, which would let him continue to run BMW till April 2020. In all likelihood, it’s possible that Krueger’s resignation had something to do with Mini launching its electric vehicle. Mini is already facing a lot of flak for the paltry range. Krueger was in-charge for four years, but he didn’t manage to take BMW forward in the EV segment, even though the German was one of the first companies to have a successful EV product in the form of the i3. Apparently, he cited "enormous changes" happening in the auto industry as the reason for his resignation. If you connect the dots, it makes sense. He was not able to get the long-range i3 out at the right time, and this delay caused the sales to drop down drastically.

In his tenure, BMW lost the apex position to Mercedes-Benz, and in the first quarter of 2019, the company bore the brunt of a $1.6 billion hit it took in an anti-trust case. He also focused on combustion engines at a time when the world was moving towards electrification, and also invested in technologies that did not reap much monetary benefits. So, before the company faced any more backlash for the poor EV range on the Mini SE, Krueger decided to quit and save face. This is just a speculation, so take it with a pinch of salt.

Final Thoughts

Mini Announces the All-Electric Cooper SE and It's Already Irrelevant Exterior
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The Mini Cooper SE will appeal to the Mini fans primarily, and to the folks who don’t run around much. If you look at it from a city car point of view, it serves its purpose. But this is sure as hell not a car that you can take out of the city, given the measly range, the tad-bit low top speed, and the go-kart-like handling. But even from the urban commute point-of-view, you could look at the Honda e that feels more complete as a package.

The production of Mini Cooper SE is expected to commence in late 2019, and should reach the dealerships in the second quarter of 2020.

It will be manufactured at the company’s plant in Oxford, England. Unless Mini plans for a standalone event to launch the first Mini EV, there is a possibility that it could unveil it at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September. There is no word on the pricing yet, but we speculate it to be in the ballpark of $38,000 and even the U.S. availability is yet to be announced. What do you think about the Mini Cooper SE? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Further reading

Mini Announces the All-Electric Cooper SE and It's Already Irrelevant Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Mini Cooper SE.

2017 MINI Electric Concept High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2017 MINI Electric Concept.

2014 Mini Cooper 5-Door Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Mini Cooper.

Sidd Dhimaan
Sidd Dhimaan
Senior Editor, Truck Expert, EV Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. Fast forward to today, and he is currently serving as a senior editor, pickup truck expert, and EV expert.  Read full bio
About the author

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