This year marks the 60th anniversary of the MINI brand, and with electromobility being a major focal point within the automotive industry in today’s age; the British carmaker has unveiled the new MINI Cooper SE, its first all-electric model. Sure, there’s the R56-based MINI E previously, but that was built in limited numbers for private leasing only, while the Cooper SE is more widely available to the masses.
MINI says its new creation is the best of both worlds, as it managed to package a capable zero-emission powertrain within a familiar F56 MINI 3 Door body, all with few compromises having to be made.
Said powertrain features an electric motor that outputs 181 hp (135 kW) and 270 Nm of torque, which are numbers identical to what you get from a BMW i3s. However, where the BMW is rear-wheel drive, the Cooper SE’s e-motor works on the front wheels only.
The performance is rather respectable, as the car will accelerate from a rest to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds, and onwards to a top speed of 150 km/h. In urban traffic, where the Cooper SE will spend most of its time, the electric vehicle will complete zero to 60 km/h sprints in just 3.9 seconds, and MINI adds that “over the first 60 metres, it effortlessly keeps pace with conventionally powered sports cars.”
To ensure the high level of torque supplied by the e-motor from a rest is kept in check, the Cooper SE’s Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) features a drive slip control system with the so-called wheel slip limiting in close proximity to the actuator so control operations are calculated directly inside the drive system rather than in a distant control unit with long signal pathways.
faster-responding Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) that uses a new form of wheel speed limiting, aiding directional stability – both under hard acceleration and when lifting off with strong regenerative braking. Traction off the line in wet and snow conditions have also been improved, and the new Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) boosts agility and even allows for mild drifts.
Powering the e-motor is a high-voltage battery, which is made up of lithium-ion cells that are subdivided into 12 modules. These are placed deep in the vehicle floor to form a T-shaped unit, which has a capacity rated 32.6 kWh (the i3s has a 33.2 kWh battery).
Due the positioning of the battery, the Cooper SE’s body is actually 18 mm higher of the ground compared to a normal 3 Door, but the luggage space is the same at 211 litres, or 731 litres when the rear seats are folded down. The electric drive components also add 145 kg of weight over an automatic 3 Door, with the Cooper SE tipping the scales at 1,365 kg.
Like the i3s, the electric MINI comes with an 11-kW onboard AC charger with a Type 2 connection, allowing for a number of charging options. The slowest method presumably, is with a household socket and the standard single-phase charging cable, although MINI didn’t provide a whole lot of charging info with this approach.
Alternatively, there’s the three-phase MINI Electric Wallbox for homes, which has a charging capacity of 22 kW, as well as a three-phase cable if you plan to plug into public fast charging AC stations. Going either of these routes will see the battery be charged to 80% in 2.5 hours, and to 100% in 3.5 hours. When fully charged, the Cooper SE has a range of around 235 to 270 km based on the WLTP test cycle.
For an even faster form of charging, you’ll have to go the DC route and use a CCS Combo 2 connection, where with a 50 kW charging capacity, an 80% state of charge is achieved in just 35 minutes. To keep track of the car’s charging status, there’s a charge level indicator above the connection point, with orange signalling initialisation, yellow for ongoing charging, and green for fully charged.
Brake energy recuperation is also present, as you’d expect, and the Cooper SE has two levels of configuration to determine the extent to which brake energy is recovered. Switching between the levels is done via a toggle switch positioned beside the start/stop button, and in its most aggressive setting, allows for single-pedal driving.
Controlling the level of brake energy recuperation can be done independent of the available MINI Driving Modes, of which there are four – Mid, Green, Green+ and Sport. These affect the responsiveness of the drive system, steering characteristic, as well as comfort features like air-conditioning and heating.
Styling-wise, the Cooper SE is shaped pretty much like a standard 3 Door, but with many unique touches so everyone knows you got the Earth-friendly model. For starters, the front grille has a much smaller inlet, and is highlighted by a yellow bar and the MINI Electric logo. More instances of the signet and yellow accents can be found on the side scuttles, side mirrors, rear hatch and charging port door.
Standard wheels are 16-inch light alloys in light alloy in a MINI Electric RevoliteSpoke design, but a 17-inch MINI Electric Corona Spoke 2-tone version (seen here) can be had as a cost option.
Moving inside, it’s again a familiar setting, but with a few twists. Behind the steering wheel is a 5.5-inch digital instrument cluster display, which provides a selection of information like the charge level of the battery, current drive mode, infotainment, range available and others. It also changes certain aspects of the display depending on the drive mode selected.
You also get more yellow highlights here, like on the steering whee, gear lever, push start button and infotainment controller. Should the Interior Style MINI Electric option be chosen, yellow topstitching is added, along with floor mats bearing the MINI Electric logo.
Standard equipment includes LED headlamps, dual-zone automatic air conditioning and pre-conditioning via the MINI Connected Remote App. A Connected Navigation system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen can also be upgraded to the Connected Navigation Plus that also includes an 8.8-inch screen with wireless device charging.
Being a MINI, the list of options is rather extensive, with other interior trim packages – Interior Style MINI Dark, Interior Style MINI Light and Interior Style MINI Yours – all being available.
With the debut of the Cooper SE, MINI now has two electrified models in its line-up, with the other being the plug-in hybrid version of the Countryman that is currently available in Malaysia.