May 26, 2022

Electrifying a car like the two-door Mini Cooper sounds like a grand “why didn’t we think of this sooner” concept, and Mini certainly goes along with it.

The brand has been working with the concept since 2009 with a limited edition Mini E, an event designed to test the feasibility and appeal of the all-electric Cooper in the field.

Advances in technology and demand for such a vehicle have led to the introduction of the Mini Cooper SE, an all-electric version of the manufacturer’s rugged two-door hatchback. This is the first step towards the brand’s recent 2030 all-electric target.

Result: The Mini Cooper SE is the buoyant car that fans expect from the brand, but unfortunately – and a bit on the nose – reinventing the old hatchback with an electrified powertrain. In 2022 it will be too far.

Nuts and volts

The Mini Cooper SE is an all-electric version of the third-generation Cooper, or Hatch as it’s known in other markets, that debuted just two years ago. The flue gases of the cheerful two-door were replaced by its newly electrified innards.

The battery sits in place of the fuel tank, cables run through the transmission tunnel, and the car’s powertrain takes up most of the engine bay.

Instead of a standard turbo engine, the Mini is equipped with an electric motor that drives the front wheels, developing 181 hp. and 199 lb-ft of torque.

Compared to the rest of the Cooper vehicles in the lineup, it roughly matches the Cooper S with its 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Energy for the SE is stored in a 28.9 kWh battery, giving the SE a range of around 340 km on a full charge. Mini claims the Cooper SE can charge the battery to 80% in about 35 minutes on a Level 3 DC fast charger and 20% per hour on a Level 2 charger. Typical home outlets can leak 2% per hour.

Technique

image credit: Alex Kalogiani

In terms of underlying technology, the Mini Cooper SE covers the basics. The 8.8-inch touch screen is the main interface for drivers and passengers. It includes entertainment and navigation features, of which the Mini provides a real-time display of traffic conditions. As is the case with other vehicles in the BMW family, the Cooper SE has settings pages that can be explored to add a number of secondary features. Everything is organized in a “live widget” format, which is displayed as large color images accessible at the touch of a finger. If that’s not your thing, Apple CarPlay is available as an option.

For safety and driving assistance, there is an adaptive cruise control system and lane departure warning. Ahead is also collision detection, which tracks both vehicles and pedestrians.

UX

Since it was redesigned and reintroduced in its current BMW-built form, the Nu-Mini has always carefully emphasized the Cooper’s flamboyant driving dynamics. As such, it’s incredibly driver-friendly for several main reasons.

First, the riding area is much more spacious than it looks. The cockpit fits snugly into the driver and passenger seats, making both positions feel connected to the adorable toy they sit in. For the driver, there is a simple behind-the-wheel display that prevents clutter by providing the minimum amount of information needed. In addition to the current speed, two meters show the state of charge, how it is used and whether it is in a regenerative state. Between those two readings and the ever-changing range estimates, drivers will notice it for most of the trip, sometimes a lot. Fortunately, when they approach another vehicle, the same screen always displays a bright red image to remind them to look around.

This Mini still has the round dashboard that once housed the speedometer. Paying homage to this unique feature of the original Mini, it feels primer than ever in the era of the ubiquitous infotainment screen. The 8.8-inch touchscreen sits like a square knob in a round hole, with black piano buttons in negative space. The widget’s user interface is quite colorful and fun, but it comes at the expense of intuitive navigation. Often it is not entirely clear how to implement the selected function at the cost of precious attention behind the wheel.

From airplane-like switches to HVAC dials, the rest of the physical inputs are pretty crude and essential. Everything is arranged correctly, functionally, and at the same time you are hardly looking for the right entrance at the time. This is good because driving the Mini SE is an active experience.

On my way

From Mini Cooper - Full View

image credit: Alex Kalogiani

While the Mini isn’t quite as good as the old-timers, the Cooper SE is still a compact, nimble car that keeps its character pretty strong while backing it up with flashy performance. Combine that with the superb torque of an electric car and make the car roar like Pikachu, the Pokémon car.

Mini reps are quick to point out that the car handles like a kart, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Perhaps now, thanks to the electrified powertrain, the Cooper’s performance is responsive and never feels too light. Torque is readily available, and while a 7-second 0-60 mph time won’t warm anyone up, the ability to cut through corners or potholes in traffic is commendable.

The Cooper SE rarely crashes and how it lands is up to the individual. Thrill-seekers might be a little tempted, but others will be glad the car stays within limits.

The Cooper SE has four built-in driving modes. In the standard “medium” mode, the electric car balances efficiency with engagement, delivering power when a heavy foot hits the throttle, but otherwise pumping out as much juice as possible. “Green” limits the available acceleration energy and also softens the pedal stroke, while “Green+” does this by reducing comfort for maximum energy savings. “Sport” increases the sensitivity of the accelerator pedal and, of course, produces the maximum possible power at the expense of battery charge.

This means that your mileage will literally change when you use these modes. Each very noticeably changes the dynamics of the car. There are also always two levels of active regenerative braking. By default, the Cooper SE starts in a more aggressive setting that allows one-pedal riding, but this can be changed to a less efficient and more natural setting.

Available modes like this are normal, but the Mini’s range of around 100 miles makes a big difference to the driving experience. This limited range makes it easy to adjust settings over and over again.

A typical ride looks like this: whatever mileage the Mini shows up in the middle of the assessment, it will always be more attractive and carefree against the green background, so try to drive in green mode for as long as you can, every time. time between. collects traffic. The game always remains a very indulgent treat in the background, as it means that even a brief burst of whimsy is worth a precious morsel of dwindling charge. Meanwhile, it’s not uncommon to have to fiddle with the rain switch to balance comfort with stretch.

You may have heard the argument that people don’t drive more than a hundred miles a day anyway, and that’s true, but with a reliable home charging solution, worrying about getting caught reduces car enjoyment.

Future

As for the future of electric vehicles, we have an idea of ​​what Mini has in mind, and we know parent company BMW plans to make the Mini all-electric by 2030.

The effort seems to be slowly burning towards the fast-approaching deadline, but Patrick McKenna, Mini’s head of product planning, gave gaming-updates some insight. McKenna told gaming-updates: “Details of how we are going to transition are still being worked out, but in the coming years we will focus on strategic flexibility by offering internal combustion engine and battery electric vehicles. .”

” [Cooper SE] The F56 internal combustion engine runs on the same production line as the hardtop,” continued McKenna. I[This flexibility] Allows us to build cars side by side. ,

From a production standpoint, it makes sense to cater to two different types of customers, but this strategy is inherently limited. Unless there is some improvement in the efficiency of the battery used, physically the biggest problem of the Cooper SE is almost nothing to improve. Since the powertrain is borrowed from the already discontinued BMW i3, it’s unclear if it’s coming anytime soon.

There’s a lot to like about the Cooper SE, especially if you like the Mini’s quirky styling. If not, it’s still hard to ignore how much fun the automaker consistently brings to its cars while driving.

Still, the current car’s conversion to an electric vehicle and short range make it hard to sell, especially in an era when sporty BEVs with long battery life aren’t as rare as they were a few years ago. Mini, a brand that relies heavily on its past to define its style, may have an all-electric future ahead of it, but its efforts are currently several steps behind the competition.

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