2020 Mini Cooper SE Electric: EV zip that won't break the bank
2020 Mini Cooper SE Electric: EV zip that won't break the bank
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2020 Mini Cooper SE Electric: EV zip that won't break the bank

Cars
This is the 2020 Mini Cooper electric. And on one hand, it promises to be fun to drive efficient, and a surprisingly good value. But on the other hand, its lack of ambition is bothering me a little bit. Let's hop in, take a drive through Miami, and I'll explain to you what I mean. This is minis first production EV the first that lets you buy at any rate. Way back in 09 the company built and leased hundreds of electric hatchbacks called Mini E as part of a global test. That's way back at the dawn of modern electric cars, even predating Tesla's Model S. After that study, many went dark on EV's, and it's taken over a decade but now this Cooper SE is finally here. Many stylists have applied a light touch in differentiating this battery powered Cooper from its gas relatives. There's a smooth Dover grill for better arrow, a new rear bumper cap and a bunch of yellow accents you can opt out of if they're not your thing. The SE's most striking feature is this funky 17 inch asymmetric wheel but you're going to have to splurge for the top end iconic model if you want a set Under this front driver's skin, there's an electric motor borrowed from BMW three, and it's good for 181 horsepower and 199 pound feet of torque. It's motivated by a T shaped to 33 kilowatt hour battery slung low in the frame rails. Zero to 60 happens in a shade under seven seconds and top speed is a modest 93 Fortunately, acceleration feels better than those numbers might suggest. And with plenty of torque for off the line punch and freeway passing this electric Mini is fun, especially set to sport and one pedal drive modes. Plus with 5050 weight distribution and a lower center of gravity than a gas Cooper, the SEC ought to be good fun to fling through the twisties Unfortunately, while Miami's got loads of sunshine, the only curves you'll find are on the beach. And there's a catch with the SE's performance. There's always a catch, right, its range. This car is only estimated at 110 miles, which is less than just about any new EV you can name. Even for a city car, that's likely to rub some buyers the wrong way especially those living in cold weather states. On the plus side, that small battery means quick charge times. A 7.4 kilowatt AC charger will net you a full battery in four hours and if you can find a 50 kilowatt DC fast charger, you can expect 80% replenishment in 36 minutes. Fortunately, there's also a big saving grace for this car and it's a pretty unexpected one for a mini price. The SE starts at 29,900 bucks plus destination, the same price as the new Nissan LEAF and that is before any tax incentives, score the full federal credit and maybe a state or local one, and you could be looking at under 20k in your driveway. That makes this just about the least expensive way to plug into electric motoring. And even the base model comes with loads of gear including LED lighting, navigation, Apple, CarPlay and Android Auto. In the end, it's the SES range that bothers me some, it points to a slight lack of ambition with this model, especially coming from the same company that gave us the radical carbon fiber intensive I three. Plus the underlying F56 platform mini dates from 2014. Thankfully that does help keep costs down and means it's entertaining. So in a nutshell, that's the 2020 Mini electric. It may not be the most ambitious or high tech EV on the market, but with value pricing like this. And a great fun to drive character. It should be enough to really move the needle when it hits dealers this March.

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