Technically speaking, the Cooper SE is Mini’s second e-model after the Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid. In the UK, these two models account for 19% of Mini’s global electrified sales. At the beginning of 2020, the car accumulated 90,000 reservations before its debut. To meet the demand, in excess of 11,000 Mini Cooper SEs were shipped to dealers from Mini's Oxford, England production plant following its debut.
Why did it take so long for the British automaker to produce the SE electric? The short answer is that the UK company went through some difficult times and was finally saved by BMW. Mini models share many components and platforms now with BMW models, which creates profitability and flexibility. BMW’s new entry-level X1 shares its platform with MINI, saving money for parent company BMW and increasing profits. Both brands have loyal followings, but BMW believes it will be an easy choice for MINI customers to transition into BMWs when they’re ready to move up to a larger car. BMW is also looking to bring in a younger crowd, who often start off with MINIs, then move up to the BMW 2 and 3 series. It’s usually smaller companies that benefit more from using a larger, more prestigious company’s resources. In this case, both brands are mutually benefitting from the relationship.
The Cooper SE uses an motor taken directly from the BMW i3S, but the e-motor powers the front wheels instead of the rear wheels. The motor produces 184 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. It allows the car to achieve 60mph in 6.9 seconds.
The car has a great center of gravity and weight balance, and a firm suspension, which provides excellent traction control. With its small, 12-module battery mounted in a T-shape pack between the front seats and under the rear seats, a 58/42% front-to-rear weight distribution, a low-to-the-ground center of gravity and Goodyear Eagle F1 ultra-high-performance tires, this car offers the positive handling experience that driving enthusiasts are looking for.
The 2022 SE’s exterior has been refreshed with a body-colored front end panel and the grill’s trim can now be ordered in black. In back is a restyled bumper with the car’s standard Union Jack-style taillights. Interior-wise, a digital instrument panel, an 8.8-inch display, satellite radio and lane departure warning have become standard. Apple CarPlay is still an option and there is no support for Android Auto.
Using a BMW drivetrain is a good idea, but the car’s 32.64 kWh battery size produces an EPA-tested range of just 110 miles. Which makes it perfect for navigating city streets and parking in spaces that larger cars can’t get into. But this isn’t the best long trip “road car,” unless you’re willing to stop more often and charge the battery.
Regarding charging: the battery can Quick Charge to 80% at kWh in 36 minutes. A 220V charger can reposer the battery in around 4 hours. Test drivers say using a 120-volt outlet takes between 9 to 14 hours. The Mini SE electric comes with a TurboCord that works with both 120 and 240 outlets.
After a $7,500 Federal tax credit, the Signature trim MINI SE, can be had for around $22,000. Which is far less than Bolt, Leaf Plus and Niro EV. Which means, if you don’t have far to go, the MINI SE electric may be the cheapest, most stylish EV to get your there. Proof of this comes from the EPA, which says you’ll save $5,250 in fuel costs over 5 years compared to driving an average new fossil fuel car.
The 2021 Mini Electric hardtop 2-door comes in 3 trims; Signature, Signature Plus and Iconic.
Signature’s MSRP starts at $29,900 and comes with standard features including: Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, a Touchscreen Navigation System, Carbon Black Leatherette upholstery, a Media System with a 8.8" Display, LED headlights with cornering lights, a Rearview Camera and Park Distance Control, and Comfort Access keyless entry
The Signature Plus MSRP is $35,900. The EV includes the standard features from Signature and adds; a selection of premium upholstery, a Panoramic Moonroof, a Harman/Kardon Premium Sound System, aUniversal Garage-Door Opener, and Auto-dimming rear view mirror
Iconic’s MSRP is $36,900. The EV includes the standard features from Signature and Signature Plus and adds; a selection of premium leather upholstery, Active Cruise control, a Piano Black Exterior Trim, Parking Assistant, a Headliner in Anthracite, an Alarm System, a Harman/Kardon Premium Sound System
The Mini Cooper SE electric is a different kind of EV; it’s predicated on the assumption that not all e-mobility drivers need 200 miles on a charge. Many EV drivers fall into this category. This EV works well as a second commuter weekend/city car; a 1-2 person household car; an empty nester car; and a college student car. Equally important to remember is the fact that over 5 years, www.fueleconomy.gov says the car will save $3,250 in fuel costs compared to the average vehicle and you’ll spend about $600 annually in charging fees. And there’s peace of mind with MINI’s battery warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Passengers occupying the back seat may feel claustrophobic on short, medium or long trips, as the area is a bit cramped. Though MINI deems this a 4-passenger car, it really works best for one driver and one passenger sitting in the front, moving the seats back.
Despite its drawbacks, there are car buyers and leasers who will love the Mini based on its legendary British heritage aesthetics and fun driving characteristics alone. They won’t worry about its spec sheet, right?
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