2020 Mini Cooper SE Electric | First Drive

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The 2020 MINI Cooper SE is MINI’s first fully electric car offered for sale. Kelley Blue Book’s Micah Muzio traveled to Miami to sample the all-electric MINI to see if it retains the brand’s familiar fun-loving road manners.

The MINI Cooper SE is the brand’s first mainstream, pure electric vehicle. This is a first drive. Let’s drive it. First, yes MINI leased 450 MINI Es back in 2009. But at the end of those leases MINI retrieved their cars. The Cooper SE is the first electric MINI you can keep. In essence the all-new electric MINI is a standard Cooper merged a 32.6-kWh battery pack and a 184-horsepower electric motor swiped from the BMW i3…in this case driving the front wheels. If you know about electric motors you know that they make maximum torque at zero rpm, enabling immediate and powerful thrust.

How does that translate to a MINI Cooper? Let’s see. In an urban setting with frequent stops that punchy pull is intoxicating. For those keeping track, zero to sixty sprints clock in a few ticks above 7 seconds.

At higher speeds the electric powertrain feels plenty powerful. Note: top speed is 93 MPH. There are two-mode regenerative brakes. So the driver can one-pedal drive if so inclined. There are also 4 Drive Modes.

Alrighty, let’s talk price. A base Cooper SE with smart key access and 6.5-inch screen featuring Apple CarPlay starts at $30,750 including destination charges. Exploit a $7,500 federal tax incentive and that price drops to about $23-grand. Even less if you can utilize state incentives. If you want a well-equipped MINI at a tantalizing price, consider the electric. The other important number to consider is range. According to the EPA, the MINI Cooper SE can cover 110 miles. That’s pegs the SE as a fine daily driver, but you’ll need another rig for cross-country jaunts.

For home charging MINI’s Wallbox tops the battery off from empty in as little as 3.5 hours. Use a 50kw DC quick charging station and the battery can achieve an 80% charge in 35 minutes. Speaking of the battery. MINI crammed it into the center tunnel and where the fuel tank would normally be. Consequently, interior space is identical to the standard MINI. With its hefty battery pack the MINI SE weighs 320 pounds more than an automatic equipped Cooper S but that weight is placed low and evenly front to rear. With its 50/50 front-to-rear weight balance and lowered center of gravity, how does the SE steer? Like this! Ooh. That is a proper good time.

Aesthetically speaking, other than vivid yellow accents, unique badging, wheels inspired by British power outlets, and a slightly higher ride height to safely clear the battery pack, the MINI SE just looks like a MINI Cooper. Inside there’s an SE specific drive selector and a special digital gauge cluster but otherwise, it’s a MINI that just happens to be electrified.

Given its range the MINI Cooper SE does not make sense for every American. But it is fun to drive, has charming looks, and thanks to an enticing price and generous tax incentives, it’s a superb value. For daily commutes filled with lively spirit and carpool access, this could be a sweet ride.
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