When MINI began teasing the Pacesetter, we thought the manufacturer was hinting it was going to release a more extreme John Cooper Works GP-like version of the fully-electric Cooper SE that you would be able to buy. However, the Pacesetter turns out to be a one-off, a fully-electric safety vehicle for the Formula E racing series.
Visually, it has similar wheel arch flares to the latest John Cooper Works GP model, a similar oversized rear wing and the same widened stance. It does have a unique front bumper design, unique wheels and a big diffuser in the back. If you’ve driven both the Cooper SE and the JCW GP and the Cooper SE, then you can imagine why the Pacesetter is an appealing vehicle.
Unlike the gas-burning GP, though, the Pacesetter has the exact same powertrain as the Cooper SE, which means it makes do with 181 horsepower (184 PS) and 280 Nm (206 pound-feet). However, thanks to its lower weight (courtesy of a stripped out interior the use of lightweight 3D-printed parts that make it 130 kg / 286 pounds lighter), the Pacesetter is quicker to sprint to 100 km/h, with a time of 6.7 seconds (versus the Cooper SE’s 7.3 seconds).
Gallery: MINI Electric Pacesetter inspired by JCW
It also has adjustable coilover suspension and it rides on 18-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport tires - the rims are the same as on the JCW GP, but they have been painted orange to match the visual theme. The brakes up front are beefed up compared to the ones on the Cooper SE, featuring four-piston calipers up front.
And while the exterior is not really surprising if you already know the gas-burning GP (albeit with a radically different color scheme and livery), what MINI has done to the interior is arguably more striking. We have to point out the 3D printed seat pads that are removable and look like alien technology - we wonder how comfortable such seats are and if MINI has plans to put something similar into production; the Cooper SE has an optional 3D-printed key, so the company is clearly into using such tech in series production too.
As we mentioned in the opening paragraph, the Pacesetter doesn’t preview a production model (as entertaining as one might have been), but it does genuinely make us excited for MINI’s future fully-electric offerings. Parent company BMW has announced that MINI will become fully-electric sooner than BMW itself, and we hope their vehicles will be exciting even after they give up on the internal combustion engine - the Cooper SE we drove is a promising sign of things to come.