Mon. Apr 15th, 2024
2020 Mini Cooper SE

2020 Mini Cooper SE: A Subcompact Tesla Model 3 Alternative?

Mini has once again gone electric. Set to arrive in the U.S. in early 2020, the Mini Cooper SE is an electric version of the two-door Hardtop that packs power and personality.

Mini’s second pure EV (after the Mini E of a decade ago) features an electric motor making 181 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. It’s not nearly as powerful as a Tesla Model 3, but we know it will be enjoyable to drive. When we sampled a prototype earlier this year, we said the electric Mini is “smooth, silent, and instant-on quick, with razor-sharp reactions that will leave you grinning from ear to ear as you pinball it through the twisties.” Mini says this front-drive car hits 62 mph in 7.3 seconds, which isn’t super quick, but puts it ahead of a four-door 2019 Mini Cooper Hardtop we recently tested with 134 hp. Top speed on the EV is limited to 93.2 mph.

It’s unclear how far the model will travel on a single charge, as the automaker has yet to confirm EPA figures. On the European cycle, it’s estimated to have 235-270 kilometers (146-168 miles) of range. With Level 2 AC charging, the Mini Cooper SE can recharge at a maximum capacity of 7.4 kilowatts. If you don’t have the time, DC fast charging juices up the battery to an 80 percent charge in just 35 minutes at a maximum charging capacity of 50 kilowatts.

With looks similar to other Mini models, the Cooper SE can be distinguished from the rest of the lineup by its model-specific closed grille. Exposed tailpipes are a prominent design detail at the rear of standard Minis, but the Cooper SE will (obviously) lack any. Mini has chosen a yellow theme to denote its electric model, with decorative yellow trim on the grille, mirror cap, and wheels. Also look for special Mini Electric badging and unique wheel designs (standard 16-inch wheels, optional 17-inch wheels). Standard features include LED headlamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, an electric parking brake, a 5.5-inch instrument cluster display, and a 6.5-inch central touchscreen with navigation.

Four drive modes are available, including a model-specific Green+ mode that maximizes efficiency and limits heating, air conditioning, and seat heating to increase range. Flipping the switch to Sport mode provides sharper response from the steering wheel and accelerator pedal.