MINI Cooper Electric: pricing and specs for British-built electric supermini
MINI’s latest electric hatchback introduces a revolutionary interior design, as well as larger batteries to provide a 250-mile range
More than 60 years after the original Austin Mini first rolled off the production line, the all-new MINI Cooper Electric is finally on sale and like the MINI Electric which it replaces, it’ll be built at the firm’s Oxford plant in the UK.
In what is a rather big shock, the new MINI Cooper Electric is actually slightly cheaper than the old car, with prices starting from bang-on £30,000. It’s now also joined by the larger all-new MINI Countryman Electric SUV, with the electric MINI Aceman crossover set to split the pair later down the line.
Rivals in the small electric supermini space are now numerous, with the latest plug-in MINI having to face off against the likes of the Fiat 500 and its Abarth counterpart, the Peugeot E-208, the Vauxhall Corsa Electric and not to mention the BYD Dolphin and the upcoming Renault 5 E-Tech.
MINI Cooper Electric: pricing and specifications
From launch, the new MINI Cooper Electric will be offered in two forms: ‘E’ and ‘SE’. Both models get a single electric motor on the front axle, with the Cooper E and SE producing 184bhp and 218bhp respectively.
Able to reach 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, the entry-level ‘E’ model starts from £30,000 and matches the outgoing MINI Electric in terms of straight line speed. Feeling the need for speed? The hot ‘SE’ slashes that time to 6.7 seconds. This makes the £34,500 Cooper SE faster than an Abarth 500e, but not quite a patch on the 429bhp MG4 XPower which only costs around £2,000 more.
One of the key problems we had with the old electric MINI was its lacklustre 145-mile electric range. MINI has addressed this problem by fitting even the base MINI Cooper E with a 40.7kWh battery which will provide a maximum range of 190 miles. Step up to the SE model and this increases to a WLTP figure of 250 miles thanks to a larger 54.2kWh battery pack.
Both versions benefit from faster rapid charging tech than before, too; the Cooper E tops out at a rate of 75kW, while the SE model can charge at DC speeds of up to 95kW. Regardless, this means both models can top up from 10-80% in under half an hour when connected to a compatible public rapid charger.
The MINI Cooper Electric can be configured in three trim levels: Classic, Exclusive and Sport. All models get a stunning circular OLED touchscreen – more on than later – with entry-level Classic cars donning 16-inch alloy wheels and Vescin (MINI’s new vegan leather) upholstery. Standard kit also includes dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and a reversing camera.
Stepping up to the Exclusive trim costs around £2,200 and adds bronze exterior accents with matching 17-inch alloys, a contrast roof and a leatherette interior complete with a fabric houndstooth dashboard. Opting for the Sport specification adds another £1,300 to the price tag and gets you a much sportier bodykit which includes a rear spoiler and gloss black accents. For the extra cash you also get a plethora of John Cooper Works badges, 18-inch wheels, a sportier steering wheel and racing stripes.
On top of these trim levels, MINI is offering a variety of option packs, each providing an ascending level of additional equipment.
Design and technology
At first glance, the new MINI Cooper Electric doesn’t look all too different from the car it replaces, with a long bonnet, short overhangs and cutesy round headlights. Eagle-eyed readers will notice the new car now gets flush door handles, as well as painted wheelarches for a more modern look.
In fact, the Cooper Electric is actually slightly smaller than the old car; the track width (the distance between the wheels on each axle) has been widened, however the overall length of the car is slightly shorter – albeit nowhere near as short as a classic Mini. The wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) has grown over the previous generation car, though, which (from our experience driving prototype models) results in slightly more interior space than before.
Customisation has long been a key part of MINI ownership and, as stated, the new car will be offered in ‘Classic’, ‘Exclusive’ and ‘Sport’ trims. However, there’s also a raft of new paint colours including: ‘Blazing Blue’, ‘Sunny Side Yellow’ and ‘Legend Grey’.
Customisation goes much further than simply choosing the appropriate trim, paint and wheels; owners are able to choose from one of three headlight and tail light signatures via the infotainment touchscreen – including the divisive Union Jack insignia of the old car.
That touchscreen is perhaps one of the new MINI Cooper’s highlights. Harking back to the Austin Mini’s central circular speedometer, the Cooper Electric’s circular OLED display is like nothing we’ve seen before and runs MINI’s own operating system. This incorporates the climate controls into the bottom of the display and boasts a voice-activated personal assistant which, activated by the “Hey MINI!” command, features a virtual pet dog called ‘Spike’.
What really sets the MINI Cooper Electric’s infotainment system apart, however, is the eclectic selection of ‘Experience Modes’ on offer. Dubbed ‘Core’, ‘Balance’, ‘Vivid’, ‘Go-Kart’, ‘Green’ and ‘Timeless’, these change the look and feel of the home screen – and sometimes even the way the car drives – with the last of those replicating the aforementioned classic Mini’s central speedometer. This setting also plays a synthesised version of its engine note through the new car’s internal speakers.
If you’d rather not use MINI’s latest software, the Cooper Electric does at least come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. The former has been programmed to bleed out to the edges of the display in order to make it feel seamless. Those making use of Android Auto are less lucky, though, as due to technical limitations, this will just appear as a rectangular widget on the screen.
MINI says the new Cooper Electric is outfitted with up to 12 ultrasonic sensors in order to keep the driver and passengers safe. Four cameras offer a 360-degree external view of the car for easier manoeuvres, as well as to monitor its status via the MINI App when parked.
With MINI’s infotainment system taking centre stage, the rest of the Cooper Electric’s interior is relatively minimalist, with a handful of metal toggle switches and a fabric dashboard which, on Exclusive models, features a funky houndstooth design. There’s also a retro two-spoke steering wheel which sits in front of a pop-up head-up display.
Like the old MINI Electric, the new Cooper Electric will only be offered in three-door form. Open the rear hatch and MINI says there’s 200 litres of boot space – slightly less than the outgoing model. Thankfully, the rear seats split 60:40, so this can be expanded to a maximum of 800 litres.
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