2020 Mini Cooper EV
Will it be a breakthrough car for Mini, or just another BMW i3 reincarnate?by Sidd Dhimaan, on
Mini has officially entered the EV fray, and we have finally uncovered the proof. To be honest, Mini Cooper is one of the very few cars from the current combustion-engined crop that could slip into an EV avatar without any cosmetic changes. We have seen automakers going bonkers with the so-called ’futuristic’ designs with slim headlights, sharp cut lines, etc. But in contrast, the Mini Cooper gels well with those electric cars with its retro, rounded looks, and Mini seems to understand that. The 2020 Mini Cooper SE has been spotted sans camo doing some all-electric testing. This electric Mini is based on the Cooper S and looks largely similar to it albeit with a few minor changes. Will the retro-looking Mini Cooper SE make a name for itself in arguably the most competitive segment in the right now?
2020 Mini Cooper EV
- Same retro, drool-worthy looks
- Green medallions all around the body
- Fuel-filler point now houses the charging port
- Subtle, tasteful chrome appliqués
- EV-specific alloys look stunning
Even though the Mini Cooper SE looks the same as the standard Cooper S, the biggest giveaway is the filled-in grille up front.
As is with the new-age of trend of big grilles, the Mini too carries the same. However, there is a yellow strip in the middle that dissects the otherwise plain-looking grille. The signature round headlights are retained with the chrome surrounding that gives the face a premium feel overall. The Mini logo sits in between the grille and the hood scoop. The bumper houses two circular fog lamps just like the standard Cooper S.
The side profile of the Mini Cooper SE is also the same as the standard Cooper S. This two-door EV comes with blackened A-,B-, and C-pillars, along with a black hard top, giving it a floating roof effect. Overall, the body looks very proportionate, which is the case with all the Minis out there. The silhouette is absolutely stunning. The wing mirrors are placed on the door, and they are painted in green on the Cooper SE. The door handle is finished in chrome, and so is the window sill at the bottom. These are the kind of chrome touches that make a car look classy and elegant.
The biggest change here is the wheel design. These are similar to the asymmetric pieces we saw on the concept car, only smaller this time.
The rim is rounded off in slim green stripe that changes the whole aura of the car. I loved the wheel design personally, but given how ’controversial’ they look, it is sure to draw polarizing opinions. 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.
Coming to the rear, it features the same bumper and body panels as the regular Mini hatch.
The rear windshield comes with a black spoiler atop. The bumper is kept covered for some reason. To hide the missing exhaust pipe? Even though it sounds stupid with all the electric nomenclatures, a layman may just pass it off as some new Cooper S edition. So, not a bad idea to safeguard the ’secret’. The taillights are surrounded in chrome and the tailgate features a medallion, similar to the one present on the front grille.
- No pictures of the interiors whatsoever
- Circular theme could be retained
- Batteries will be placed under the seats?
Although there are no pictures of the cabin, it will more or less be similar to the standard Cooper S.
The steering wheel is a compact three-spoke unit with the Mini badge in the center and controls mounted on either side.
The circular instrument cluster features the speedometer and the tachometer and are backlit in orange. However, we could see a big change here, either in terms of the data displayed, or the backlit color, or both. An all-digital unit with all pertinent battery and rang information is basically a requirement here.
The center console is dominated by a huge circle that houses the touchscreen system, a few buttons to control it, and the hazard switch at the top. It is surrounded in chrome and looks retro and classy at the same time. It is flanked by two HVAC vents that make the whole setup look like the Mini logo. Three small dials below the touchscreen unit control the air conditioning. Since this an EV, I expect the cabin to have green touches around. Green LED ambient lighting would be a good choice. In terms of space and comfort, Mini has been generous in the front, but not so much at the back. But expecting sedan-like comfort from a two-door hatch would be a cardinal sin. In the Cooper SE, this could get all the more cramped since the batteries will either be housed in the boot or under the seats. Nevertheless, it will take a hit on the space aspect.
- Supposedly borrowed from the BMW i3
- Single electric motor
- Will power the front wheels
- 170 horsepower
- 184 pound-feet of torque
- 0-60 in 7.2 seconds
- Top speed of 93 miles per hour
- Could offer a range of 153 miles on full-charge
Mini is expected to borrow the BMW i3's powertrain for the Cooper SE.
It features an electric motor that produces 170 horses and 184 pound-feet of torque. It is powered by a 42-kWh battery pack that can drive 153 miles on a single charge. Power is sent to the rear wheels in the i3, but in case of the Cooper SE, it is expected to be a front-wheel-drive setup. The powertrain takes the BMW i3 from a naught to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds before hitting a high of 93 mph.
It needs to be seen if Mini has made any changes to this before plonking it in the Cooper SE. From what it’s worth, the range is quite low for today’s market and Mini will have to come up with a bigger battery pack very soon. Despite being a premium offering, Mini could face heat from the likes of Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf. These two established players have made a name for themselves in the EV segment and will be a thorn in the Cooper SE’s side.
There is no word on the pricing, but we speculate it to be in the BMW i3’s range. So, the Mini Cooper SE could be offered with a starting sticker price of around $40,000.
The BMW i3 has been a very important product in the Bavarian’s EV lineup. In a way, it even forms the basis for the Cooper SE’s incarnation. And, that is precisely why people will choose the i3 over the Cooper SE. The i3 is an established player in the market and Mini will find it tough to compete with this Bimmer since both of them feature the same powertrain. The Mini will be the heavier vehicle of the two and this will further affect the range.
To brief you about the specs again, the i3 comes with an electric motor that produces 170 horses and 184 pound-feet of twist. The differentiating point here is that the i3 sends power to the rear wheels. It is also a lot more compact and serves as a better city commuter. With these things in mind, Mini might not be able to trump the i3, unless it springs a surprise that can overshadow all these things. The BMW i3 starts at $44,500.
Read our full review on the 2018 BMW i3
The Leaf is the world’s best-selling EV and one of the first vehicles to have tasted success in this segment. The Leaf is a smart-looking car and is loaded to the brim with features like ProPilot Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning, Leather seats, Bose Audio System with seven speakers, etc.
The top trim comes with an electric motor that churns out 214 ponies and 250 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a 60 kWh battery pack that can deliver up to 226 miles on a full charge. Now, compare this to the figures that the Mini would deliver with the i3’s powertrain and you will realize how inadequate that is. The top-trim of the Nissan Leaf is priced at $42,550.
Read our full review on the 2018 Nissan Leaf
The biggest factor playing in favor of the Mini Cooper SE is the fact that the company has not gone overboard with the design and styling cues. The retro touch is still retained and the hatch looks impressive overall. The biggest ’rumored’ disappointment is the i3’s drivetrain under the hood. It is just too small to compete with the likes of Nissan Leaf. Hopefully, Mini has worked on the drivetrain to make it more competent and capable to take on its rivals. Now that the production version of the Cooper SE is ready, we expect it to be launched later this year. 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.
Read our full review on the 2019 Mini Cooper.
Read our full review on the 2019 BMW i3.