The original Mini from the 1960s was a marvel of packaging engineering, fitting a tight little FWD power train and room for four adults into a cartoonishly small, 2-box shape. With its low weight and innovative suspension design, it became a giant-killer on racetracks and a favorite among car enthusiasts. Combined with distinctive styling, the Mini provided a formula that made it an obvious pick for BMW (Mini’s parent company) to “resurrect” during the late 1990’s retro craze that saw crosstown rivals, VW, enjoy a massively profitable run of New Beetle sales. Given the car’s small size and urban demographic, there has been talk of electrification for the Mini for over a decade— but the electric Mini never materialized. Until now, that is.
Meet the new for 2020 Mini Cooper SE. (!) It seems wild to say, but this is, in fact, the first pure electric production car in Mini’s history. It’s also, according to Mini, anyway, “the first purely electric premium small car.”
Granted, Mini’s slicing it pretty thin in that claim, but let’s take a quick look at the car before we judge it too harshly. Dynamically, the electric Mini Cooper SE should be a blast to drive, with over 180 HP available from its electric motor going through a limited-slip diff to the front wheels for excellent power delivery. The low-slung battery is built into the SE’s floor, and helps to create an equally low center of gravity. That low mass helps create space inside, and also contributes to a low center of gravity for “the go-kart feeling” that Minis have become known for.
Inside there are a few design features that are unique to the SE. Look at the switchgear and digital displays in the photo gallery, below, to get a sense of what that looks like. It’s certainly a “premium” look! Other special interior features include the model-specific (to the SE) “gear selector lever” on the center console– with the scare quotes in place because the electric Mini (like most EVs) doesn’t actually have hears. The new MINI Cooper SE is also fitted with an electric parking brake that is activated and triggered by means of a switch on the center console.
For their part, BMW seems pretty proud of their new electric Mini. Proud … or a little defensive, maybe? I’m not quite sure how to approach a sprawling press release that’s over three-thousand words long and mentions the car’s performance in every other paragraph (at least!). Maybe that’s just me, though– you can read the press release for yourself, below, then let us know what you think of the new Cooper SE in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
THE NEW MINI COOPER SE | ELECTRIFIED PERFORMANCE
Munich, Germany — Urban mobility with purely electric drive can now also be experienced in hallmark MINI style with the new MINI Cooper SE that combines sustainable mobility with the driving fun, expressive design and premium quality that are typical of MINI.
The spontaneous power delivery of its 135 kW/(181 hp US) motor, the brand-specific front-wheel drive, and the innovative driving dynamics system with wheel slip limiting close to the actuator, give the new MINI Cooper SE a particularly intense and unmistakable agility, known as the go-kart feeling. Its model-specific lithium-ion battery enables a range of 235 to 270 kilometers*. (NOTE: US EPA estimated range figures not available)
The high-voltage battery is situated deep in the vehicle floor, ensuring there are no limitations in terms of luggage compartment volume as compared to the conventionally powered MINI hatch.
With the new MINI Cooper SE, the British brand once again sets a pioneering impetus for urban mobility. 60 years ago, the revolutionary design principle of the classic Mini established the basis for maximum interior space within a minimum surface area. The MINI was launched in 2001 – a modern re-interpretation of creative space usage and unique riding fun that became the original in the premium segment of small cars.
The new MINI Cooper SE will be the first purely electric premium small car, paving the way to a sustainable yet at the same time highly emotional driving experience in urban traffic.
The new MINI Cooper SE: an overview of the highlights.
- Electric motor with 135 kW/ (181 hp US) and 270 Nm. (199 lb-ft)
- Model-specific lithium-ion battery enables range of 235 to 270 kilometers – without compromising luggage space. (NOTE: US EPA estimated range figures not available)
- Can be charged at a household 120 volt socket, wall mounted charger or public charging stations, fast direct-current charging possible at up to 50 kW.
- Outstanding agility due to spontaneous power delivery, low center of gravity, front-wheel drive and wheel slip limiting close to the actuator.
- Acceleration from zero to 62 MPH in 7.3 seconds.
- Characteristic design of the MINI 3 Door with model-specific accentuations.
- Model-specific display and control elements in the interior.
- Recuperation can be configured at two levels for individual one-pedal feeling.
- Standard equipment features include LED headlamps, 2-zone automatic air conditioning, heating with heat pump technology, auxiliary heating, electric parking brake and Connected Navigation.
Vehicle concept: a genuine MINI to the core.
The new MINI Cooper SE is the first model to combine electro mobility in an urban setting with the hallmark brand properties of the original in the premium segment of small cars. The first ever purely electric model of the British brand is a genuine MINI to the core.
Its vehicle concept is based on the MINI 2-door hardtop. The dimensions, design, space and interior ambience of the new MINI Cooper SE are clearly based on the conventionally powered vehicle, the development of which already took account of the expansion of the model range to include an electrically powered version.
The new MINI Cooper SE is produced in the brand’s home country. It comes off the production line at the MINI plant in Oxford, UK along with the conventionally powered versions of the model. Its drive technology comes from the BMW Group competence centers for electro mobility in Dingolfing and Landshut.
Instead of a petrol or diesel engine, there is an electric motor under the bonnet of the new MINI Cooper SE. The compact unit with integrated power electronics and transmission is positioned in the front section of the support frame by means of a solid tube structure. The high-voltage battery with model-specific configuration is made up of lithium-ions cells subdivided into 12 modules. They form a T-shaped unit positioned in the vehicle floor, providing a gross energy content of 32.6 kWh.
The electric motor is not just smaller but also significantly lighter than a combustion engine, thereby contributing to the well balanced axle load distribution of the new MINI Cooper SE. Along with the lower center of gravity, this gives the electrically powered model agile handling, making it supreme and easy to control even when cornering at high speed.
The new MINI Cooper SE also offers extremely secure road-holding, not least due to the position of its high-voltage battery. It is placed deep in the vehicle floor between the front seats and below the rear seats. As a result of this arrangement there is no reduction in luggage compartment space as compared to the conventionally powered model versions.
As in the MINI 2 door hardtop with combustion engine, the luggage volume under the tailgate is 211 liters, expanding to 731 liters when the rear backrests are folded down. The only measurable difference: in order to ensure the relevant ground clearance for the high-voltage battery installed in the vehicle floor, the body of the new MINI Cooper SE is positioned some 18 millimeters higher than in the conventionally powered model.
All components of the electric drive are protected by means of model-specific structural features and immediately switched off in the event of a collision. The safety concept for the new MINI Cooper SE is thus in line with the high standards of the BMW Group, which go well beyond legal requirements.
The power electronics are shielded by the reinforced bumper support and the motor support frame, while the high-voltage battery is protected by a solid base plate. With an unladen DIN weight of 3,009 lbs, the electric model is only some 319 pounds heavier than the MINI Cooper S 2 door hardtop with Steptronic transmission.
Characteristic MINI design with model-specific accentuation.
Selective modifications and discreet differentiation regarding the conventionally powered model are also characteristic of the design of the new MINI Cooper SE.
Powerful proportions, the typical three-part structure consisting of the body frame, all-round greenhouse and roof, short overhangs and widely set wheels are again the characteristic features that set the first purely electrically powered MINI apart from the masses. Precisely applied accentuations indicate its future-oriented drive system.
The charge connection is located above the right-hand rear wheel – exactly where the fuel filler neck is positioned on the conventionally powered MINI 2 door hardtop. An embossed MINI Electric logo marks the difference in terms of energy input. Yellow versions of this signet appear on the lateral turn indicator inserts, known as side scuttles, as well as on the tailgate and front radiator grill.
The central element of the MINI Cooper SE front section also features the hallmark hexagonal contour, but this is closed because the electric motor requires very little cooling air. A yellow decorative bar on the grill and exterior mirror caps are finished in the same color, thereby rounding off the model-specific design features. The MINI Cooper SE is fitted as standard with LED headlamps.
Like the model-specific front radiator grill, the largely closed undercarriage and the distinctively designed rear apron contribute to reducing aerodynamic drag. The fact that the electrically powered MINI does not require an exhaust system likewise facilitates air ducting in the undercarriage and at the rear.
An aerodynamically optimized surface is also to be found on the optional 17-inch light alloy wheels with asymmetrical design in the MINI Electric Corona Spoke 2-tone version.
Like the standard 16-inch light alloy wheels in MINI Electric Revolite Spoke design, the latter are available exclusively for the new MINI Cooper SE.
Pure driving fun: electric motor with 135 kW/181 hp (US).
Spontaneously initiated drive torque and continuous power delivery not interrupted by gear shifts – these are the characteristic features of the drive technology fitted in the new MINI Cooper SE. They ensure hallmark MINI driving fun in a novel form.
The power source is the latest, highly powerful version of the synchronous electric motor developed by the BMW Group. The specific design principle of the drive enables a high level of power delivery that extends into high engine speed ranges, an exceptionally high level of efficiency and smooth, low-vibration running.
The motor of the new MINI Cooper SE mobilizes a maximum output of 135 kW/181 hp (US). Its maximum torque of 199 ft-lb is already available from standstill, as is characteristic of electric motors. The power transmission to the front wheels is by means of a transmission with single-stage configuration and integrated differential.
As a result, the new MINI Cooper SE develops thrilling forward propulsion at every movement of the accelerator pedal, ensuring an exceptionally spirited driving experience in urban traffic in particular. The new MINI Cooper SE accelerates from standing to 37 mph in just 3.9 seconds. The purely electrically powered MINI accelerates from zero to 62 mph in 7.3 seconds; its top speed is limited to 93.2 mph.
The new MINI Cooper SE develops its sporty flair not only with striking spontaneity but also virtually noiselessly. For this reason it is fitted as standard with acoustic pedestrian protection. A distinctive sound created especially for the MINI Cooper SE is generated via a speaker system. The sound design in the low speed range guarantees an acoustic presence on the road that is typical of MINI.
Thrilling agility thanks to innovative driving dynamics system.
Electric drive takes the typical MINI concept of go-kart feeling into an entirely new and fascinating dimension. The enthralling agile handling of the new MINI Cooper SE is supported by suspension technology that has been refined and harmonized on a model-specific basis.
In conjunction with purely electric drive too, the tried-and-tested design principle of the suspension – with single-joint spring strut at the front, a multilink rear axle that is unique within the competitive field and electromechanical steering – guarantees maximum ride stability, steering precision and spontaneity when changing direction.
With a center of gravity that is at least 30 millimeters lower than in the MINI Cooper S, optimum weight distribution helps the new MINI Cooper SE achieve a level of cornering dynamics that is unique within the small car segment.
In order to ensure that the high level of torque supplied by the electric motor immediately on set-off can be put to use for hallmark brand riding fun without loss of traction, the new MINI Cooper SE has an innovative DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system.
This drive slip control system, designed specifically for the spontaneous power delivery provided by electric motors, makes for particularly supreme driving qualities in all road and weather conditions.
The so-called wheel-slip limiting close to the actuator means that control operations are calculated directly inside the drive system rather than in a distant control unit with long signal pathways, as is the case in conventional driving stability systems. This perceptibly optimizes both set-off traction and driving stability in brake energy recovery mode, as well as when accelerating out of tight bends.
MINI Driving Modes with four settings.
The first purely electrically powered MINI also enables the driver to adapt the vehicle setting to the current situation on the road as well as to their own personal preferences. The MINI Driving Modes are selected by means of a switch located on the right-hand side of the toggle bar.
There are four modes to choose from in the MINI Cooper SE. Sport mode differs from the standard MID setting, with a more direct characteristic steering curve and a particularly spontaneous response of the drive system.
The comfort-oriented steering characteristics of the MID setting are also active in GREEN mode, as well as in the new GREEN+ mode specially configured for the new MINI Cooper SE. What is more, the drive system in these two latter modes is geared towards maximum efficiency. In GREEN+ mode, additionally selected comfort functions such as heating, air conditioning and seat heating are limited or deactivated in order to increase the range of the vehicle.
Brake energy recovery for configuration at two levels.
Part of the characteristic driving experience in an electrically powered BMW Group model is the so-called one-pedal feeling. In urban traffic in particular, the vehicle perceptibly decelerates as soon as the driver removes their foot from the accelerator.
This effect occurs because in coasting mode the electric motor performs the function of a generator, transforming kinetic energy back into electric power, which is in turn fed back into the high-voltage battery.
The result of this is that the electrically powered vehicle can be appropriately decelerated at low speeds without using the brake system and can therefore be driven using a single pedal. The extent to which brake energy is recovered and the vehicle is decelerated during coasting phases can be determined via the motor control programming system.
The new MINI Cooper SE is the first electrically powered BMW Group model in which the driver can influence the degree of recuperation efficiency. A toggle switch positioned to the left of the start/stop unit provides the choice of intense or only low-level recuperation with the relevant deceleration impact – regardless of the MINI Driving Modes.
In this way, the deceleration response on load reversal can be precisely adapted to the driver’s personal driving style when adopting a dynamic driving style, for example. Depending on individual preferences, it is possible to make use of the momentum available on entering a bend or else bring about a more intense braking effect. In order to ensure maximum efficiency in the MINI Cooper SE, the high level of recuperation is automatically included in the standard setting every time the motor is started.
Model-specific cockpit with digital instrument panel.
The new MINI Cooper SE is fitted as standard with a model-specific instrument cluster consisting of a 5.5-inch color screen in Black Panel design behind the steering wheel. At the center of this fully digital screen, the road speed is shown in figures with a peripheral scale band. The speed band is also displayed in the light ring of the central instrument – in red (SPORT mode), white (MID) or green (GREEN and GREEN+), according to the mode selected.
Other digital displays in the instrument cluster provide information on the charge level of the high-voltage battery, the currently selected MINI Driving Mode, the status of the driver assistance systems and Check Control messages. In addition, details of the range available, current drive power, outside temperature, time and mileage are displayed, along with traffic sign detection reports and high-guiding directions from the navigation system. What is more, it is possible to access telephone contact and audio program lists.
During charging, the digital instrument panel likewise supplies important information. If the vehicle is connected to a power socket or charging station, it is possible to read not just the time and outside temperature but also the available range and the charge status in per cent. The time is also displayed at which the high-voltage battery will be fully charged. The color of the panel changes depending on the situation: from orange during initialization to yellow in the course of the charging process, and green when the energy reserves are fully refreshed. Any charging error is indicated by means of red coloring.
Other special interior features include the model-specific gear selector lever on the center console. The new MINI Cooper SE is also fitted with an electric parking brake that is activated and triggered by means of a switch on the center console.
MINI ELECTRIC provides flexibility when charging.
The energy for electrifying driving fun is drawn by the new MINI Cooper SE from the power grid, to which it can be connected via a conventional household power socket, the MINI ELECTRIC wall mounted charger or a public charging station. Its charging connection is designed for AC and DC charging using Type 2 and CCS Combo 2 plugs (J1772 and SAE Combo plugs – US). Above the connection, a charge level indicator displays orange signals for initialization, pulsating yellow light for an ongoing charging operation, and green light for a fully charged battery.
The included Level 1 charging cable is available for connection to a household socket. US models of the new MINI Cooper SE can be also be charged at a maximum charging capacity of 7.4KW with Level 2 AC charging. A DC fast-charging station allows the vehicle’s energy reserves to be refreshed even more quickly. The charging unit of the new MINI Cooper SE is designed for a maximum charging capacity of 50 kW, allowing an 80 per cent charge to be achieved in just 35 minutes.
2-zone automatic air conditioning with heat pump technology and auxiliary heating.
All trim levels of the new MINI Cooper SE includes a 2-zone automatic air conditioning system with separate ventilation and temperature control for the driver and front passenger sides. The interior is heated by means of a heat pump which collects waste heat from the motor, drive control, high-voltage battery and outside air before feeding it into the air conditioning system.
The heat pump developed for the new MINI Cooper SE is particularly efficient. It uses 75 per cent less energy than a conventional electric heating system and provides a high level of climate comfort in winter mode. In order to increase range, the cooling and heating circuits are directly linked to the drive technology, forming a highly efficient overall system. An integrated control system guarantees a pleasant interior temperature and an ideal operating temperature for the high-voltage battery at the same time – independently of each other, by means of cooling and heating.
The automatic air conditioning of the new MINI Cooper SE also offers an auxiliary heating and a stationary air conditioning function. This enables the interior to be heated up or cooled down to a specified temperature before setting off. The driver can use the MINI Connected Remote App to set the intended time of departure so as to pre-condition the interior in advance as required.
Navigation system as standard, model-specific MINI Connected Services.
The standard program of equipment in the new MINI Cooper SE also includes a navigation system as well as central instrument display items and MINI Connected services that are specially geared towards electro mobility.
The eDrive screen provides information on the current flow of energy and the range as well as offering ways of increasing the vehicle range by deactivating comfort functions or boosting recuperation. On the navigation map it is possible to display a range circle that indicates the action radius of the MINI Cooper SE depending on charge level. When the route guidance starts, it displays the fastest and shortest route and also suggests a GREEN route involving the lowest level of power consumption.
The standard Connected Navigation includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen in the central instrument. This allows the service Real Time Traffic Information to be used, as well as the internet platform MINI Online and the Apple CarPlay preparation. The mobile phone connection also means that the vehicle’s navigation map is updated automatically.
Remote Services allow the driver to display details of battery charge status and range on a smartphone via the MINI Connected App, and it is also possible to generate statistics on the car’s energy consumption. In addition there is a map view which shows public charging stations in the vicinity of the vehicle. Meanwhile, not only can the headlight flasher, horn, ventilation and Door lock/unlock function be remotely activated, but so can the interior pre-conditioning function.
When the vehicle is connected to the power grid, the driver can also control the charging process via Remote Services. The optional equipment item Connected
Navigation Plus also includes an 8.8-inch color screen and the function Telephony with Wireless Charging.
High-end standard equipment, selective customization.
The new MINI Cooper SE is available in the US with three distinct trim levels; Signature, Signature Plus, and Iconic, which each include a specific combination of exterior finish, light alloy wheels, seat upholstery and interior fittings. Along with this, the new MINI Cooper SE features options and equipment including Connected Navigation, or Connected Navigation Plus depending on the trim level.
Customers also have a range of choice for body finishes depending on the trim level. These include Moonwalk Grey metallic and White Silver metallic, with additional choices of the colors Chili Red, British Racing Green metallic and Midnight Black metallic, and a special paint finish MINI Yours Enigmatic Black available at the top end of the trim range.
The exterior mirror caps of the new MINI Cooper SE are finished as standard in Vigorous Grey and optionally in yellow, as is the horizontal decorative bar on the front radiator grill. Regardless of the equipment package selected, all exterior finishes can also be combined with a roof and exterior mirror caps in body finish (not available in conjunction with the body color White Silver metallic), or else in black or white. Depending on the selected equipment package, there is a choice of light alloy wheels in the sizes 16 and 17 inches in up to five different variants.
Figures for fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, power consumption and range are measured using the methods required according to Regulation (EC) 2007/715 as amended. The information is based on a vehicle with basic equipment in Germany; ranges take into account differences in wheel and tire size selected as well as optional equipment and can change during configuration.
The information has already been calculated based on the new WLTP test cycle and adapted to NEDC for comparison purposes. In these vehicles, different figures than those published here may apply for the assessment of taxes and other vehicle-related duties which are (also) based on CO2 emissions.
Source | Photos: BMW/Mini USA.