Mini enters the electric vehicle ranks with the battery-powered Cooper SE – a car it says can provide a zero-emissions range of up to 168 miles (270 km) with no compromise in interior space or luggage capacity compared with existing gasoline versions of the compact hatchback sold in North America.
Initially previewed by the Mini Electric concept car at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, the definitive production version of the new Cooper SE retains the familiar retro-inspired look of other Mini models but receives styling updates that set it apart visually from its combustion-engine siblings.
Included is a blanked-off grille with electric identification and a newly shaped front bumper with a thin horizontal air intake. The new model rides on standard aerodynamic optimized 16-in. wheels, though 17-in. wheels are available as an option.
Inside are Cooper SE model-specific instruments and infotainment graphics, among other minor upgrades, says Mini.
Power for the Cooper SE is provided by a front-mounted electric motor (below, left) produced at Mini parent company BMW. Mounted on a newly engineered support frame, it propels the front wheels with 181 hp and 199 lb.-ft. (270 Nm) of torque via a single-speed transmission with an integrated differential mechanism.
With a curb weight some 320 lbs. (145 kg) heavier than the gasoline-powered Cooper S with an optional Steptronic automatic gearbox at 3,009 lbs. (1,366 kg), the Cooper SE is claimed to accelerate from 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 7.3 seconds and achieve a top speed limited to 93 mph (150 km/h).
The new Mini offers four driving modes, Sport, Mid, Green and Green+, together with an adjustable recuperation function allowing the driver to alter the amount of kinetic energy recovered in two stages leading to different levels of deceleration while coasting.
Energy for the new Mini model’s electric motor is provided by a lithium-ion battery mounted within a modified version of the existing floorpan. It is made up of 12 separate modules and boasts an energy content of 32.6 kWh.
Mini says this is sufficient to provide the Cooper SE with a range of 146 to 168 miles (235 to 270 km) under WLTP test procedure regulations.
Recharging is via regular AC household power or an optional 11-kW wallbox unit. The new Mini also supports DC charging at up to 50 kW.
With the battery positioned between the front seats and below the rear seat in a space usually taken up the fuel tank in gasoline versions of the Mini hatchback, cargo space is preserved. Trunk capacity is listed at 7.5 cu.-ft. (212 L), expanding to 25.8 cu.-ft. (731 L) when the Cooper SE’s split-fold rear seat backrests are folded down.
Mini says the Cooper SE delivers traditionally agile handling attributes. Helping in this respect is a center of gravity claimed to be 1.2 ins. (30 mm) lower than that of gasoline-powered Mini models. The new model also is claimed to possess 50:50 front-to-rear weight distribution.
The MacPherson strut (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension has been revised with new spring and damper units and an added 0.7 in. (18 mm) of ground clearance to help it cope with the added weight brought on by the battery and power electronics, the latter of which is housed underneath the hood together with the electric motor.
The Cooper SE will be produced at Mini’s traditional Oxford factory in England. It is the second electric Mini model. The first, the limited-volume Mini E, was produced by hand between 2009 and 2010. It formed the basis of a short-term lease scheme developed by Mini and parent BMW to learn about the mobility requirements of potential EV customers.
U.S. pricing hasn’t been disclosed yet.