Electric Cars

2020 Mini Cooper SE is a sprightly hatch with electric feel

It has between 146 and 168 miles of range by European estimates.

I'm a huge fan of EVs that err on the conservative side of design, so the Cooper SE is right up my alley.

Andrew Hoyle/Roadshow

Mini hasn't been shy about teasing its new Cooper SE electric hatchback. We've already seen it tow a Boeing 777. Heck, we've already taken a camouflaged prototype for a spin and walked away impressed. Now, as the automaker promised earlier, it's time to see the whole shebang.

Mini on Tuesday unveiled its all-electric Cooper SE hatchback. It sports a single electric motor on the front axle, granting it 181 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque, all of which is routed through a single-stage transmission. For its output, acceleration isn't too shabby, with 62 miles per hour arriving in 7.3 seconds. Its top speed is electronically limited to about 93 mph.

Even though the output isn't stratospheric, the Mini Cooper SE should handle quite nicely. Its center of gravity is more than an inch lower than the sporty Cooper S, and the car's stability control system was reengineered specifically to handle the instant torque its electric motor provides. Four drive modes are on offer, giving the driver the option to be as green as possible by limiting or deactivating certain systems (like the air conditioning) to provide more juice for range.

Speaking of range, the T-shaped battery under the floor has a capacity of 32.6 kWh. That might not seem like much, but given the car's small footprint, that translates to a range between 146 and 168 miles by European standards. The EPA has not yet released figures for the US, but suffice it to say, they're usually a bit lower than what the Europeans calculate. The car also packs a two-stage regenerative braking system that lets drivers use a single pedal if they want.

The interior packs a few unique touches, like a new gear selector and a screen in place of the gauge cluster.

Andrew Hoyle/Roadshow

The car's design keeps it close to the standard Mini Hardtop. There's a Mini Electric logo on the side scuttles, the tailgate and the front radiator grille. The charger is accessed above the rear wheel on the passenger side, which is where the fuel cap lives on non-EV variants. There are a few extra flourishes, like a new front end that replaces the unnecessary grille and some decorative yellow bits scattered about. Two wheel designs are on offer, in 16- and 17-inch diameters, both of which are unique to the Cooper SE.

Inside, the Cooper SE gets a 5.5-inch color screen for an instrument cluster, as well as an SE-specific gear lever and an electronic parking brake. Two-zone climate control is standard, and it can precondition the cabin before setting off on a trip. Its 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system includes both navigation and Apple CarPlay as standard equipment.

Available in three trims -- Signature, Signature Plus and Iconic -- Mini has not yet released pricing for the Cooper SE, but that will happen before it goes on sale. We're not quite sure when that will happen, but since it carries a 2020 model year, it should hit the market within a year.

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