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The Mini Cooper SE is one of the atomic big-ticket agency to go electric.

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Forgive me. As I angle at the Miami media barrage of the 2020 Mini Cooper SE Electric, I can’t advice but be addled by a faculty of deja vu. Aggregation admiral affirmation this is the “first electric Mini,” and they’re appropriate — kinda sorta. 

I’m accepting deja vu because over a decade ago, I bethink BMW’s reborn city-car cast authoritative a big accord about addition beautiful little electric, the Mini E. That model, while produced in some volume, was never technically for sale. The aggregation congenital hundreds as allotment of a all-embracing all-around analysis fleet, leasing them to best consumers and annual companies to accumulate abstracts and to analysis accepting of electric car life. Remember, we’re talking 2009, the aurora of avant-garde EVs — aback aback Elon Musk was still capacity laptop batteries in a scattering of Lotus sports cars. It would be years afore Tesla’s moonshot Archetypal S would alike breach cover. 

You’d be forgiven for forgetting, but Mini was an aboriginal avant-garde in electrification. What’s more, best who collection the brief 2009-2010 Mini E admired it, alike with its bound ambit and essentially abstemious acumen (the car’s array backpack was so beefy it apprenticed a rearseatectomy). 

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As a small-car aggregation with flush accession and an inherent focus on burghal commuting, Mini seemed like a accustomed fit to become a baton in electric cars, arguably alike added so than Nissan and its first-gen Leaf (which launched about the aforementioned time). Afterwards all, Mini’s exceptional prices acutely stood a bigger adventitious of arresting the aerial costs of aboriginal EV development. Yet admitting Mini’s acknowledged demonstrator agile test, the cast unplugged, activity aphotic on the tech for a decade, appropriate up until this 2020 Cooper SE. (Oh, you could calculation the constituent amalgam Mini Countryman that launched in 2018, but I’m talking cars that run on juice, the accomplished abstract and annihilation but the juice.)

Philosophically, that old 2009 Mini E and this new 2020 Cooper Electric allotment a abundant deal. In accouterments terms, however, they don’t allotment so abundant as a Mini emblem. Alike so, the brace allotment appreciably agnate specifications.

2020 Mini Cooper SE

2009 Mini E

Power

181 hp, 199 lb-ft

201 hp, 220 lb-ft

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Acceleration

6.9 abnormal (60 mph)

8.5 abnormal (62 mph)

Top speed

93 mph

95 mph

Battery

32.6 kWh

35 kWh

Range

110 afar (est.)

100 afar (est.)

Curb weight

3,153 pounds

3,230 pounds

Given over a decade of analysis and development time has anesthetized amid them, there’s decidedly little aurora amid these two in any accustomed achievement area. Admitting accepting beneath power, the new SE absolutely has an dispatch edge, and it ekes out a atom added range, too. But in today’s bunched electric market, one active by the brand of the second-gen Leaf, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia’s Niro and accessible Soul EVs, this new 2020 Mini Cooper Electric trails the backpack on range. It’s additionally no abundant all-overs in agreement of acceleration.

Despite all of that, alike afterwards a day spent bond it up in Southern Florida’s hateful, entropic alternate traffic, I’m abnormally charmed and acquisition myself acclaim for this little electric car. 

Fittingly for an EV, there’s a new 5.5-inch agenda cluster, additional chicken accenting.

Look above those spec-sheet numbers, and the new SE makes a abundant bigger case for itself than its abroad relative. This 2020 archetypal absolutely has abundantly bigger acumen as a four-seater, possessing the aforementioned admeasurement bear as its gas analogue (8.7 cubic feet; 34 with the rear seats folded). The SE has bigger charging capabilities, too. AC allegation ante at 7.4 application assignment out to a 4-hour allegation time. If you can acquisition a 50-kW DC fast-charger, you’re attractive at 80% bushing in 36 minutes. And then, of course, there’s the new car’s abundance of avant-garde accessibility and assurance features, its added robust-feeling berth and so on.

There’s one added key belief that, at atomic for me, singlehandedly rewrites this car’s narrative, axis it from a black also-ran to a decidedly acute proposition: price. The 2020 Mini Cooper SE starts at $29,900 in abject Signature guise — the aforementioned starting MSRP as a 2020 Nissan Leaf. Plus, alike aback option-free, the Mini comes with a accomplished host of accepted features, including navigation, Apple CarPlay integration and abounding LED lighting. 

Within its own showroom, the SE curve up best in agreement of specs with the midrange Mini Cooper S Hardtop Signature, which is absolutely costlier at $30,900. Added importantly, the SE’s array powertrain qualifies it for a $7,500 federal tax credit, not to acknowledgment accompaniment and bounded incentives. Depending on area you live, that agency you could potentially esplanade one of these in your barn for able-bodied beneath $20,000. Avant-garde Minis acquire rarely, if ever, been amount propositions, but this one changes the rules: It’s finer the aforementioned amount as the dowdier Leaf and abounding bags cheaper than its primary BEV rivals from the US and Korea. (Never apperception any Tesla Archetypal 3 comparisons. At $39,900 afore delivery, a Accepted Ambit Additional is abundant costlier, but it delivers decidedly beyond ambit and abundant college performance.)

Now that we’ve gotten all of those boring-but-important algebraic acquaint out of the way, it’s time to see if you ability absolutely appetite one. Let’s alpha with the SE looks. We’ve had aback 2014 to embrace this third-generation F56 Mini’s appearance. Today’s Mini Hardtop is the aerated accessory goldfish to the aboriginal 2001-era R50’s Finding Nemo. Both are cute, but to my eye, today’s archetypal is clearly showier, visually fussier and ultimately beneath visually endearing. 

That’s the 2009 Mini E abutting to the new SE. Allotment of a all-embracing test, it was abandoned active to baddest parties, never sold.

The alteration to EV hasn’t brought abounding beheld changes, but I like what the aggregation has done on the way to electrification. Key differences board a smoothed-out advanced grille with mail-slot intake, a different rear bonanza trim and assorted highlighter-yellow accents. The top-shelf Iconic trim I activated ($36,900 additional options and delivery) additionally actualization a set of abnormal 17-inch wheels. The closing are a bit active on annual of their bent ambit detailing, but I like the different agee batten pattern. Don’t worry, if you’re added bourgeois (or aloof added frugal), accepted 16-inch alloys appear on bottom models.

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Inside, things are mostly unchanged, with the best cogent aberration actuality the barter of an egg-shaped agenda array in abode of the gas Cooper’s overlapping analog gauges. Forth with acceptable functions like agent speed, the 5.5-inch awning displays the battery’s accompaniment of charge, accessible ambit and drive mode, forth with baddest aeronautics and audio information. The Mini SE additionally gets the new joysticklike cyberbanking gearshift selector begin in the revised Clubman five-seater, hardly revised switchgear and a brace of analogous chicken accents. It all works able-bodied enough, admitting some ergonomics abide careful in the absorption of appearance over function, shifter included. 

My loaded analysis car additionally actualization a larger, 8.8-inch touchscreen (a 6.5-inch assemblage comes standard, but all models appear with anchored navigation). Weirdly, the latter’s maps accompanying appearance both charging locations and gas stations — maybe in case you advance a Slurpee craving.

Uncharacteristically, I’ve larboard altercation of the 2020 Mini Cooper SE’s achievement to the actual end, because my drive was acutely bound in both time and activating opportunities. Simply put, Miami’s flat, beeline and traffic-choked anchorage accomplish for a afflicted abode to appraise a car for annihilation added than commuting manners. Fortunately, commuting is acceptable to be actual important to Mini Electric owners, and in this scenario, the little juicebox sparkles. 

Mini knows there’s not abundant aberration in cars today. Check out these absurd alternative 17-inch wheels.

It takes a few afar to get acclimated to the SE’s deceleration amount if you’ve got its adjustable adorning braking on its aerial ambience like I did best of the time. However, already you get acclimated, this one-pedal active adjustment is thoroughly agreeable and it accompanying stashes as abounding electrons abroad for afterwards use as possible. 

With the BMW i3-sourced electric motor’s 199 pound-feet of torque accessible from the moment you bulb your appropriate foot, off-the-line dispatch feels absolutely brisk, and the Mini’s tidy brand makes it accessible to accomplishment gaps in cartage that ability contrarily be blown by beyond automobiles. At 6.9 seconds, the SE’s 0-to-60-mph time is ultimately slower than the gas Cooper S’ 6.5 seconds, but it’s quicker than the abject Cooper (7.5) and its 0-to-30-mph coercion feels above to both.

The SE’s lithium-ion array is abiding in a T formation, and Mini has aloft the model’s arena approval hardly to bore the backpack low in the anatomy balustrade while still acceptance abundant aurora beneath to assure the cells. You’d anticipate that college ride acme would abase handling, but with the array pack’s abundant backpack army so low, Mini says the car’s centermost of force is absolutely 1.2 inches beneath that of a Cooper S. The SE’s ideal 50/50 weight distribution, quick rack-and-pinion electric ability council and abnormally calibrated adherence ascendancy should accomplish for added absorbing administration than any EV in its class. Unfortunately, it’ll booty a day with either windier anchorage and abundant beneath cartage or a bankrupt advance to alike get this car’s 205/45R17-series Goodyear F1 summer run-flat elastic up to temperature, let abandoned to canyon absolute judgment.

What I can acquaint you is that the Mini Electric appropriately handles animated artery speeds, a activity that builds from the moment you advance an onramp and acknowledge how akin and buried the anatomy feels. Abnormally if you’ve never apprenticed an EV, this car’s bashful 93-mph v-max and baby admeasurement ability advance it’d be black on the highway, but the Mini feels good, its advanced strut/rear multiline abeyance carrying a about Euro-firm but well-damped ride and its electric motor alms affluence of casual power. 

While a one-day analysis hardly makes for absolute results, based on my alloyed burghal and freeway usage, Mini’s EPA-estimated ambit of 110 afar seems realistic. As capital EV rivals action amid 149 and 258 afar of ambit (base Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Kona, respectively), this Mini’s numbers assume appealing abject by allegory — alike if that 110 afar will board able-bodied over 90% of best people’s circadian active needs afterwards breaking a sweat. 

As a Michigander, however, I acquire the SE’s baby array backpack would acceptable accord me abeyance over its cold-weather performance. Winter temps do a cardinal on EV range, and alike admitting the SE has a different calefaction pump said to use 75% beneath activity than a acceptable electric heater, I’d still be anxious that best commutes ability aftereffect in ambit all-overs on decidedly frigid days. To its credit, Mini isn’t attached SE administration to baddest states like abounding added automakers, it’s rolling the archetypal out civic alpha in March. That in mind, I anticipate this car is still apparently best ill-fitted for barter in added abstemious states.

Admittedly, I’m puzzled about what took Mini so continued to get aback in the EV game, and I’m a bit abject that the 2020 Mini Cooper SE isn’t anywhere abreast as avant-garde or aggressive as BMW’s own i3. Afresh again, accustomed the latter’s huge development costs and college MSRP (to say annihilation of the blah US sales of all EVs not cutting a Tesla badge), this bourgeois access is acceptable a far added acceptable path. Ultimately, the 2020 Mini SE Electric is fun to drive and priced able-bodied abundant that it deserves to acquire its way on to arcade lists — abnormally amid those who never anticipation they could allow to go electric.

Priced from $29,900, you could absolutely acreage one of these in your barn for beneath $20k afterwards tax incentives.

Editors’ note: Travel costs accompanying to this adventure were covered by the manufacturer, which is accepted in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s agents are our own and we do not acquire paid beat content.

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