- First full EV for sale by Mini
- Range estimated at 110 miles
- 0-60 mpg acceleration of 6.9 seconds
- Priced from $29,900 plus $850 Delivery
- Goes on sale March 2020
Mini has announced its first purely electric model for retail sales, the 2020 Mini Cooper SE which is expected to go on sale in the U.S. next March. Based on the brand’s 2-door hardtop hatchback, it’s not the first battery-electric from the British make, which had a test fleet of 500 Mini E models on lease in the U.S. nearly a decade ago.
The front-wheel drive EV is powered by a 135-kW electric motor rated at 181 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. Mini promises 0-60 mph acceleration of 6.9 seconds and estimates range at about 110 miles between charges. Top speed is 93 mph. The drivetrain, with its 32.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack doesn’t seem to move the needle much from the original Mini E, which had a range of about 100 miles and 0-62 mph acceleration of 8 seconds.
While its battery is small and range limited, Mini says the pack is capable of taking using 50 kW DC fast charging to 80-percent in just 36 minutes. And the small battery is the key to another big selling point for the Mini, affordability.
What will the 2020 Mini Cooper SE cost?
The 2020 Mini Cooper SE will be priced from $29,900 plus $850 delivery for the base Signature model. The electric Cooper is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, which will knock down the cost to around $20,000 and even less in those areas like California and Colorado, that offer generous local incentives.
Mini says the Cooper SE has a long list of standard equipment that includes a navigation system with a 6.5-inch display, Apple CarPlay compatibility, heated front seats, keyless entry, LED headlights and foglamps, forward collision warning, acoustic pedestrian warning, rain-sensing wipers, automatic climate control, cruise control, and carbon black leatherette upholstery.
The 2020 Mini Cooper SE Signature Plus is priced from $33,900 and adds 17-inch wheels, a panoramic moon roof, power-folding mirrors, auto-dimming interior, and exterior mirrors, rear park distance control, and Harmon Kardon premium sound system.
Topping the range of Mini electrics is the 2020 Mini Coupe SE Iconic. This model boasts a leather steering wheel, a head-up display, park distance control front, and rear, park assistant, an 8.8-inch touchscreen and wireless phone charging. The MSRP for this model starts at $36,900 plus $850 destination.
What is like to drive the 2020 Mini Cooper SE?
The most remarkable thing about driving the Cooper SE electric is how unremarkable the driving experience is, at least from the standpoint of what we’ve come to expect from Mini. The car tips the scales at 3,163 pounds, but still feels light on its feet and the low center of gravity enhances the traditional go-kart dynamics of Mini’s entry-level model.
The powertrain itself is smooth and silent, though at speed there’s the usual amount of wind and tire noise–in fact a bit more of the latter since the higher inflation pressure of 39 psi (which reduces rolling resistance) does result in it a bit of drumming over uneven freeway surfaces.
The Mini Cooper SE’s regenerative braking has two levels and is never fully off, so you’ll always feel some slowing whenever you lift off the throttle, much like you’re already on the brake. In the more aggressive mode, you can adapt to one-pedal driving when easing off on the throttle will allow you to coast up to a full stop. The car will stay stationary without having to apply the brake in this mode. However, the feel is a bit heavy-handed, you can get some head toss if you take your foot off the gas to abruptly and there seems to be a bit of delay when moving off from a start.
It’s not quite as seamless as the one-pedal driving mode in the Nissan Leaf and the switch to toggle between regen modes is on the dash rather than close at hand with a steering wheel-mounted button or paddle found on other EVs and plug-in hybrids that have this feature.
The Ionic trim level I drove was quite plush, with quilted seat patterns, carbon fiber trim bits and with the leather steering wheel, looks and felt far more upscale than you’d expect given the list price.
Four drive modes, two levels of regen braking
Mini is touting the agility and fun-to-drive aspect of the new Cooper SE. There’s a standard Mid setting that is geared towards comfort and a sharper Sport mode with more responsive steering action and throttle inputs. A Green mode retains the Mid mode’s comfort steering with acceleration and braking tuned to deliver greater efficiency. A Green+ mode also adds to the vehicle’s range by limiting the use of heating, air conditioning, and seat heating.
Two levels of regenerative braking can also be selected by the driver, with a more aggressive mode allowing for one-pedal driving. The Cooper SE is also fitted with a model-specific instrument cluster featuring a 5.5-inch color screen with a speed band around the digital readout that is illuminated in red for Sport, white for Mid and green for the Green and Green+ modes.
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Three trim levels
The 2020 Mini Cooper SE will be offered in Signature, Signature Plus and Ionic trim levels each with specific exterior colors, light alloy wheels, upholstery designs and interior accents. All models will come with connected navigation as standard equipment. The nav system has a feature where it’s possible to display a range circle that indicates how far the Mini SE can travel on the remaining state of charge.
Do I need to put a charger in my home for a 2020 Mini Cooper SE?
If you have time, no. Mini said that the Cooper SE can be charged from a standard household 110-volt socket, though it will take 24 hours for a full charge. Charging from standard 240 volts at 3.8 kW will take 8 hours while Level 2 AC charging up to 7.4 kilowatts will take 4 hours. Mini offers its Wallbox Level 2 AC home charger as an accessory. Public DC fast-charging is also possible at 50 kW allowing for an 80-percent charge in just over a half-hour.
What vehicles will compete with the 2020 Mini Cooper SE?
The Cooper SE will face some formidable competition when it comes to the U.S. market. While its range is comparable to the Volkswagen e-Golf and standard Nissan Leaf models, it will also compete with a new generation of EVs that boast more than 200 miles in range, including the Nissan Leaf Plus, Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai Kona, Kia Niro EV, Kia Soul EV, all of which start in the mid- to upper $30,000 range.