The Mini is electric now too, but it has lost none of its charm; it’s just that the fun behind the wheel is now quieter
The rise of fully electric cars is unstoppable, and Mini is joining the party with its first zero-emission model. The Mini Cooper SE has many things going for it, but is a Mini without a combustion engine still everything you expect of it? In one word: yes.
Switching from fossil fuel to electricity has not taken away any personality from the German car (with an English soul, of course), the oddest factor being the absence of sound coming from the exhaust, especially when comparing the electric version with the feistier Cooper S and Cooper Works.
The Mini Cooper SE is based on technology developed for the BMW i3 S, but adjusts it to the front-wheel-drive platform featured in all Mini cars. The batteries have a capacity of 28.9kWh and are installed in a T-shape under the rear seats where the transmission tunnel would normally be. As well as helping to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible, this keeps the boot capacity at 211 litres — 731 litres with the seats down.
The engine is at the front and the 184 horsepower it produces is more than enough for a lively and typical Mini driving experience, although the maximum speed is limited to 150km/h so as not to spoil the autonomy, which is 234km.
Although it’s not the most interesting number in the segment — which is justified by the fact that this generation’s Mini was not designed from the start to have an EV version — the 234km between charges allow a use that is adapted to the majority of potential Cooper SE customers, who will use it mainly for urban commuting and short trips, having almost always a second car for holidays and/or longer trips. The 0-100km/h start in 7.3 seconds is always a surprise, as the immediate torque glues the occupants to the seat and gives the impression of even faster acceleration than the figures indicate.
On a 50kW charger, the electric Mini takes 35 minutes to get 80% charge on the battery, whilst a 11kW station will take three hours. Like other brands, Mini can install a wallbox in customers’ homes.
No doubt the Mini Cooper SE doesn’t solve all the mobility problems of today’s world, but it solves at least one of them: how to have a car that is fun to drive, with a strong lifestyle component and that doesn’t emit pollutant gases. In this aspect, the mission was 100% accomplished.