Mini Cooper SE Electric First Drive: Highlights & Lowlights


The upcoming Mini Electric may be a solid offering for urban families … as a second car.

About ten years ago, BMW made a handful of battery-electric Mini Coopers. They were expensive (lease only), and the battery pack took up rear seat space and cargo room, but people leased every last one of them and there was demand for more. Fast-forward to the present and Mini is back at it. In fact, the automaker has been working on the new Mini Electric for some time. As previously reported, packaging the battery in such a small car has proven difficult, but not quite as much of an issue as it was in the past.

The all-new, two-door, four-seat Mini EV is due to launch by the end of 2019. Autoblog enjoyed a welcome opportunity to take the Mini Cooper SE electric prototype for a spin at an off-road driving event in Munich. The publication admits it can’t say too much about the car yet, since BMW isn’t advertising the vehicle this early on. Nonetheless, let’s dive into what the publication has to share.

Low on range

The upcoming Mini features a 33-kWh battery pack and a 135 kW motor. It will offer a range of about 120 miles on a charge. DC fast-charging will get you about an 80 percent charge in 40 minutes. BMW will market it as an urban car for families that may use it as a second or third vehicle. Overall, it’s at least loosely based on the BMW i3. According to Mini, it will be priced competitively when compared to the Cooper S with an automatic transmission.

 So, how does it drive?

Autoblog says the Mini offers the instant torque that you expect from an electric car, and there’s no wheelspin due to its advanced traction control system. It features regenerative braking that can’t be switched off by the driver. It handles and steers much like any Mini and, as expected, there’s minimal body roll. While the Mini Electric is heavier than a traditional Cooper, it does a respectable job of keeping the ride smooth. However, the review points out:

There is a weird, slightly laggardly response to the wheel, however. Once the nose has started to yaw, the front wants to push wide. At this point the Mini requires all the formidable grip from its 205/45/R17 Pirelli P Zero tires to keep to the prescribed line.

In the end, the publication asserts that this car could probably not be a family’s only vehicle. But, those that live in the city and have another vehicle may find it a welcome addition to the stable. It’s quick, nimble, fun to drive, and offers a decent enough range for local trips and most commutes.

To read the review in its entirety, follow the source link below.

Source: Autoblog

Categories: Mini

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66 Comments on "Mini Cooper SE Electric First Drive: Highlights & Lowlights"

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(Original James)

Pros: – Familiar, stylish Cooper body popular with a niche demographic (trendier than a LEAF)..

– Easy to park

– Zippier than ICE versions

– Less geeky than i3 and no fake horsecollar grille

Cons: – Likely spendier than a LEAF with less range.

– Another EV sharing it’s platform with ICE brethren with resulting shortcomings ( space, handling dynamics…)

– 120 miles range is so 2017….

– Likely teenie, tiny production numbers

They will sell a few 100k of them over the years especially with the promise of a price tag comparable to the similarly powered ICE version. Just look at the i3, it sells better each year and they have to continually increase production. People on the American internet think that the i3 is a failure as well. I think they simply don’t get the concept of premium small cars.

5’000 per annum last I recently read in German. Teenie tiny indeed. Irrelevant.

I actually once thought the minE could be the car that convinced BMW to take mass production of EVs seriously.

Turns out it will be the Chinese Communist Party.

If it’s indeed based on the i3, it does *not* share a platform with combustion cars, despite the similar body… Though admittedly, the similar body alone results in packaging downsides.

Half-hearted entry, why not come out with a Clubman or Countryman with at least 48kwh battery? BMW, along with most major manufacturers just don’t get it. Come on Mini, get with the program!

This! The Countryman is already a PHEV; how hard would it have been to just go the whole hog, even with just a decent (e.g. resilient) 41kwh battery, it would have been preferable to a passively cooled Nissan Leaf with a 60kwh battery.

Uh, the difference between a well-engineered BEV and a PHEV is much much bigger than the difference between a PHEV and a pure combustion car.

A Mini Countryman would cannibalize i3 sales. You would be surprised how big the i3 is on the inside.

Ron Swanson's Mustache

120 mile range?

What’s the point, then?

Too bad this is such a half-hearted attempt. A serious electric Mini with a range of at least 250 miles could be a serious contender for a fun and sporty daily driver.

You need 250 miles for a daily driver?!

Yes, you need them.
a) Every now and then you’ll be unable to charge your car that day.
b) Every now and then you’ll have to put some 150-160 miles on your car the same day (that’s from my own experience)
c) On winter time or being too fast your range will reduce some 20 to 30%.
d) In 10 years time your batteries degradation can make range be reduced by 15%.
e) Even if a mini is not a Road Trip car, every time you have to choose to take a middle range trip with your fossil car and spend some 30-50 € in gas or take the electric and spend only some 5-6€ you keep choosing your not a road trip car.

A mini is not a road trip car.

I have a Cooper S and about 400km of back roads in my region that would disagree with this.

Interestingly, MINI USA literally organizes a cross-country roadtrip every other summer for MINI owners.

Yet… someone drove an original Leaf around the world. If that is not a road trip then I don’t know what is.
Most Mini’s are Town/City cars where 120 miles range is plenty. but yes, BMW needs a longer range version probably in a Countryman body.

If only there was a practical difference between a car with a 700km range which can be refilled in three minutes vs. a car that takes an hour but will only give you 200km of range max.

My Mini gets used mostly in the city, but I also uses it to go on holiday or go for longer drives. I can’t justify a use case where I need separate cars for separate things.

The original MIMI-E was converted by A C Propulsion in San Dimas California. They also made the very rare T-Zero that inspired Tesla. In FACT Tesla bought their AC Controller, Battery system and uses the 18650 Lithium cells they had in those vehicles. In FACT the MINI-E had a 150 mile range and V2G Vehicle to GRID built into it. Another FACT is they are still on the road at the Univ of Delaware doing V2G work.
It’s great that BMW is making lots of real good electrics like the i3. The Mini is a very cool little car. I’d love to be able to get one of these when they come out to go with my Tesla model 3 and my Chevy Spark EV.

While Tesla originally licensed AC propulsion technology, by the time the original Roadster actually went to market, they had developed their own technology.

Also note that the conversion of the T-Zero to Li-Ion cells was apparently done as a proof of concept on Tesla’s request… The original T-Zero used lead-acid batteries.

What exactly is the point of this car (other and an engineering exercise)?

A lot of families have a second car just to get to work. Please tell me, why is this not perfect as a second car? And no, most families do not have 5 kids and need 7 seats.

I wouldn’t buy this as a 2nd car just to get to work because it is too expensive for that.

Nobody is going to by a $40k car as a second car to putter around in here and there.

I see a lot of Audi Q/whatever Land rovers etc driven only in town as a second car. So why would this not sell?

There is not always logic in peoples choises. It is a fairly fun car to drive, with a wheel in every corner. I’ve never liked the looks of a Mini though.
I have no idea how the EV version will perform, but if the cost is $40k, it’s not that much (compared to the prices I’m used to in Norway that is.. ).
If it is electric it would save a lot with no road tolls, free parking, cheap to run and so on.
It is a low volume product to begin with, and the electric version will most likely also be even lower. In Norway though, it will sell more then the ICE version.

BMW are developing a new Mini, that will arrive in a few years – and that will be very different from an engineering perspective. The EV range will for sure be longer too. For the next 2-3 years, this will be their option for people who want an electric Mini.

“According to Mini, it will be priced competitively when compared to the Cooper S with an automatic transmission.”
– The F’ing Article

Cooper S starts at $31,400. Throw in the full $7500 tax credit, and this goes down to $23,900. Add in CA’s state tax credit, and it’s now $21,400.

120 miles for “puttering around”? lol. Ok. Average daily work commute in the US is 32 miles. We don’t know if this 120 miles includes a buffer.. but even if you cut off 20% of the range to keep it between 10% and 90%, that still leaves you 96 miles, or 64 miles after daily work commute.

If this is a second car, then clearly you can use a primary car’s longer range when necessary.

The fact that 11 people liked your comment means a lot of people don’t like to read.

You know what else does that? A 2nd hand Leaf for literally half the price.

The Mini is far better looking and gotta imagine more fun to drive.

No doubt, but a car that is twice as expensive doesn’t make my mortgage half as much to service; plus servicing my ICE Mini has basically rendered me insolvent.

Used cars are cheaper? Noooo…. really? I had no idea.

Probably in a year or two they will switch to 120 ah cells, resulting in 150 miles range. The 2019 i3 is already using these cells.

So why aren’t they starting off with those cells? 150mi seems like minimum range for any BEV launching this year, except maybe for the cheapest econoboxes that are popular in China — certainly for what the Mini will cost. I assume this will be same length as the 2-door Mini Cooper, 151″ / 384cm. that isn’t much longer and already has a 41kWh battery & 186mi WLTP range… In fact, the next gen Zoé is already known to have 250mi WLTP range (expected 50kWh battery), and is believed will be launched already at the end of this year…
Also, why only 2-door? That’s much less useful than a 4-door config.

The 2 door is the best selling Mini, the volume seller. I guess they want to sell it at a certain price, definitely lower than the i3, so they use cheaper batteries. They will also have something to improve in a couple of years by switching to 120 cells, which will be cheap by that time.

On an energy per dollar basis, outdated cells tend to be *more* expensive.

That’s what I would expect, for a new production line. Obviously it might be different for an already-existing battery.

To clarify, my sentence “that isn’t much longer and…” should read “That isn’t much longer than the current Zoé, which…”

I’m really disappointed. That 33 kwh battery seems just too small for a 30k€ car. This car would have been fine if it came out 4 years ago. But the Peugeot 208 E and VW ID Neo will have 50kwh batteries at roughly the same price point. So this seems like a really mediocre effort. And what the hell took them so long?

Yeah doesn’t really make sense. Should at least have 40kWh to match the Leaf.

No, it should have 50kWh. The Peugeot 208e & Zoé II are all similarly sized, and will have ~250mi WLTP range.

Bringing a new model to production typically takes about five years… Getting the right specs at the right time requires a lot of foresight.

Well, the Nissan Leaf 30kwh battery had this range in 2016. So BMW assumed that everything would stand still for three or four years?

This is such a fail. 130 miles in 2019 is ridiculous. I was waiting for a Mini EV and this halfhearted attempt is going to get me to look at something else.

Depends it it is city use only, and so on. If I were to use a car like this to and from work (where I work now), I could charge this car twice a month..
Still I would probably choose the e-Up, due to the much lower price. If I needed more range, I would choose the Renault Zoe which has much longer range, and is offered at a reduced price (since the new Zoe will come soon). Now I usually just use an electric bicycle to get to work. Takes me 7-9 minutes longer time, but get some excercise and feel more alert and ready when I get to work. It is also dirt cheap.

It’a compliance Car ! end of subject !

I dunno man, people generally want compliance cars but can’t get supply in their area.

I don’t know if anyone is going to want this

Does MINI need a compliance car? BMW builds the i3 already.

They should have redesigned the body, kept it looking like a mini but sleeker through the air.

Another yesterday’s car for tomorrow. Fail.

Agree. Why should people bother spending good money on a new small battery EV when there are used (literally yesterdays) alternatives with perhaps better range and a much nicer price tag.

80% charge in 40 minutes, 33kWk battery = 40kW average charge rate.

C’mon BMW. You can do better than this.

It’s not for road trips. Most charging would be done at home, very rarely ever needing DCFC. Should just make DCFC optional for those that don’t need it.

We waited so long for a fully electric Mini and this is what we get.

Totally inexcusable given:
The i3 is getting refreshed at the same time this is coming out but this has the old tech? What?
The 208e is going to have double the range presumably for the same price.
There’s no news or announcement about a fully electric Countryman (give me an electric All4 with a big stupid WRC wing damnit).
Soon VW is going to be playing in this end of the pool with a far better product and price.

Signed: A current Mini owner, who will likely never buy another one again now.

a failure in the making

Front wheel drive or rear wheel drive?

I have i3 a second family car. Same idea. Wish they did > 150 miles tho

Is there any market for 2 door / 3 door cars. Recently Buick phased out Cascada coupe and Toyota phased out Yaris hatch. I think BMW wants this to be a low volume seller. All this is happening despite Tesla Model-3 beating them in their home turf.

Yaris is still in Europe…

And a big seller there.

People in the comments are clueless as ever thinking that it makes sense to give that car a range much beyond 100 miles. This car is a MINI. No one that does regular travel at highway speed is even considering a car like that. The wheelbase is way to small and you have to constantly point the car in the right direction. It isn’t for traveling.

That’s what Nissan was thinking with the original Leaf. They learned the hard way that it’s *not* what people want to buy.

Nissan sold over 400k Leafs. It is the most sold EV worldwide.

They sold about one tenth of what they originally planned for.

They planned for the Leaf to be their best selling vehicle by far?
The Leaf accounts for more than 10% of Nissan sales and you claim they planned for 40% of their output to be Leafs? Surely they would have retooled more than just 3 factories if that was the plan.

Guess I’m using my Mini wrong then. Thanks man in internet comments for telling me what is right and wrong to do with my car.

The MINI can’t have a bigger Batterie right now because there’s no space. Yes the Zoe is similar size and has a bigger batter BUT the MINI is lower!! That means BMW is unable to stack batteries as high or they might refer even from putting batteries under the Front seats and the leg room for the second row. Like the Rivian 2.

Just because you wouldn’t buy one doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for premium small cars, it remains to be seen how well they sell.

The Peugeot e208 with its 50 kWh battery doesn’t seem to be much higher. Maybe not at all.

Honda’s new-from-the-ground-up BEV has a similar range but likely much less horsepower. It is easy to understand people commenting on this website are focused ONLY on range, but other factors may be important to other buyers (me).

What other options are there for a great-handling small BEV? If BMW had stuffed more batteries in this electric Mini, it would have been heavier and less nimble. If Honda won’t sell their better-looking BEV in the US, this Mini Cooper SE looks like the only sporty option. Please don’t tell me the Leaf or Bolt are sporty. If I need more range I’ll take my 700-mile gen-1 Insight (and avoid ingesting fluids for hours before my trip).