Mini has once again gone electric. Set to arrive in the U.S. in early 2020, the Mini Cooper SE is an electric version of the two-door Hardtop that is said to inject personality into the EV driving experience. Mini’s second pure EV (after the Mini E of a decade ago) features an electric motor making 181 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. It’s not nearly as powerful as a Tesla Model 3, but when we sampled a prototype earlier this year, we said the electric Mini nevertheless “enthusiastically bobs and weaves through slaloms, skidpads, and quick lane-change exercises.” Mini says this front-drive car hits 62 mph in 7.3 seconds and can reach a presumably governed top speed of 93 mph.
It’s unclear how far the model will travel on a single charge according to the U.S. EPA; on the more optimistic European cycle, it’s estimated to deliver 235 to 270 kilometers (146–168 miles) of range. With Level 2 AC charging, the Mini Cooper SE can recharge at a maximum capacity of 7.4 kilowatts. If you don’t have the time, DC fast-charging juices up the battery to an 80 percent charge in just 35 minutes at a maximum charging capacity of 50 kilowatts. Unfortunately, the U.S. range estimate is likely to be something like 125 miles, or less than half a Chevy Bolt’s.
While it’s instantly recognizable as a Mini, the Cooper SE can be distinguished from the rest of the lineup by its model-specific closed grille, lack of tailpipes, and yellow-ish trim applied to the grille, mirror caps, and unique wheel designs. The latter measure 16 inches as standard, but can be upgraded to 17s. Additional included features include LED headlamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 5.5-inch instrument cluster display, and a 6.5-inch central touchscreen with navigation.
By placing the battery in the vehicle floor between the front seats and below the rear seats, Mini didn’t cut into the Cooper’s already meager cargo space in creating the electric model, but the car is raised by 0.7 inch to ensure adequate ground clearance under the pack. While the Cooper SE’s added electrical bits increase its weight by 319 pounds over an automatic transmission-equipped two-door Hardtop, its lower center of gravity does help maintain Mini’s familiar tossable dynamics. Four drive modes are available, including a model-specific Green+ mode that maximizes efficiency and limits heating, air conditioning, and seat heating to increase range. Flipping the switch to Sport mode provides sharper response from the steering wheel and accelerator pedal.
The 2020 Mini Cooper SE will be built at the automaker’s plant in Oxford, U.K. alongside the standard models.