MINI goes electric

MINI goes electric

MINI has finally, after a seemingly endless gestation period, released full details of its first series production electric vehicle (EV). It was expected to be called the MINI Electric, but it will instead be marketed as the MINI Cooper SE, indicating its positioning in the existing MINI line-up. The Cooper SE is based on the three-door hatchback model and arrives in Ireland early in 2020.

Under the bonnet, and behind the restyled, blanked-off grille, sits the same electric motor as used by the BMW i3s. That means 270Nm of torque from a standstill and up to 184hp. Power goes to the front wheels and the MINI EV uses the same advanced traction control system that debuted on the i3s, enabling a 0-100km/h time of 7.3 seconds and a limited top speed of 150km/h. That makes the Cooper SE as fast to 100km/h as the MINI Cooper SD, if a little slower than the lighter petrol model. And speaking of weight, the new Cooper SE is 145kg heavier than an automatic Cooper S.

Nonetheless, the electric MINI's centre of gravity is some 30mm lower than its internal combustion engined brethren, while the weight distribution front-to-rear has also improved, so we'd expect it to feel just as nimble.

That low centre of gravity is thanks to the positioning of the T-shaped battery pack low down in the wheelbase of the MINI. Its total energy capacity is 32.6kWh and, depending on equipment, the Cooper SE is said to travel up to 270 kilometres between charges. Both AC and DC charging is possible using Type 2 and CCS Combo 2 plugs, and the maximum charging capacity of 50kW allows an 80 per cent charge in 35 minutes. MINI quotes an energy consumption rate of as low as 13.2kWh/100km.

How you drive will obviously affect that figure, as will the drive settings. By default, there's a high rate of brake energy recuperation, allowing, according to MINI, one-pedal driving most of the time, but for the first time in any BMW Group model, the driver can alter the level, reducing the effect to allow more coasting via a toggle switch on the centre stack. Another toggle switch allows selection of one of four driving modes - Sport, Mid, Green and Green+ - affecting the throttle response and power steering, along with heating and cooling functions for maximum range. The start-stop button is yellow for the Cooper SE, as well, instead of the usual red.

All versions of the Cooper SE will come with a new 'Black Panel' digital instrument display behind the steering wheel. It only measures 5.5 inches along the diagonal, but it looks the part and the colour graphics change depending on driving mode and even if the car is being charged up. The rest of the cabin, trim material and colour options aside, is the same as that of the three-door MINI Hatch. Even the boot is unchanged. A high standard specification includes two-zone climate control (using a heat pump) and satellite navigation specifically designed for use in an electric car.

To get the most out of your Cooper SE, you need the MINI Connected App, which enables checking and control of the battery charging, along with pre-setting the interior temperature from afar - along with other functions. Apple CarPlay is standard equipment and if you upgrade the 6.5-inch touchscreen of the satnav to the 8.8-inch Connected Navigation Plus system, wireless charging is also added.

The Cooper SE wouldn't be a MINI if you couldn't personalise it every which way, would it? It gets two unique alloy wheel designs for starters (a standard 16-inch rim and then the eye-catching 17-inch alloys shown in the pictures here) and then three trim levels to choose from that define the paint colour options and materials, as well as equipment included at the price.

All versions of the Cooper SE get an embossed MINI Electric logo on the flap that covers the recharging port, a restyled rear bumper and more logos on the side scuttles, though some of the yellow accents of the car pictured here are optional or part of an optional package.

MINI Ireland has confirmed that the Cooper SE will be priced from €27,765 on-the-road in Ireland, which includes the €5,000 SEAI grant and €5,000 VRT rebate. On a PCP deal, it's as low as €309 a month on 4.9 per cent APR and €4,727 deposit.

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