New MINI Cooper Electric will be built in the UK
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 has finally been revealed and like the MINI Electric which it replaces, it’ll be built at the firm’s Oxford plant in the UK.
The MINI Cooper Electric will go on sale in the spring of next year, and it’s set to be joined by an all-new, all-electric version of the Countryman SUV. As mentioned, the new MINI Cooper Electric will be built alongside the forthcoming petrol model at the firm’s plant in Oxford, rather than in China like first thought. This is thanks to an additional £600m investment into the site, which will also eventually become the home of the all-electric MINI Aceman.
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, and not to mention the £25k BYD Dolphin.
Being a MINI, the new Cooper Electric won’t be quite that cheap; prices have been confirmed to start from £30,000, which still undercuts the larger Vauxhall Corsa Electric. Thankfully, MINI says its new bread-and-butter electric hatchback has plenty of sporting and retro appeal to make the price tag worth it.
The new MINI Cooper Electric is slightly smaller than the car it replaces; 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.
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 Electric E and SE producing 184bhp and 218bhp respectively.
Able to reach 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, the entry-level ‘E’ model matches the outgoing MINI Electric in terms of straight line speed, while the hot ‘SE’ slashes that time to 6.7 seconds. This makes the £34,500 Cooper Electric 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 Electric 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 Electric 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.
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.
Customisation has long been a key part of MINI ownership and the brand has stated the new car will be offered in ‘Classic’, ‘Exclusive’ and ‘Sport’ trims, as well as in new paint colours including: ‘Blazing Blue’, ‘Sunny Side Yellow’ and ‘Legend Grey’.
However, customisation will go much further than simply choosing the appropriate trim, paint and wheels; owners will be 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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