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MINI Cooper SE Review – Electrified Premium Go-Kart
MINI is a brand famous for producing modern examples of the iconic British compact car originally made famous by Sir Alec Issigonis. It relaunched in 2002 for the US market with a marketing tie-in to the blockbuster film “The Italian Job” starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, and Mos Def. This led to an explosion of popularity, especially during the fuel crisis in the 2000s. Fast forward to today, and MINI is the first brand at BMW Group to go fully electric. The MINI Cooper SE leads that charge, offering instant torque for the very first time in the iconic shape fans know and love. Starting at $30,900, the MINI Cooper SE provides an affordable option for EV enthusiasts seeking a fun driving experience, even with its limited 114-mile range.
MINI Cooper SE EVU Hot Take:
- Iconic MINI design and driving dynamics electrified; a hoot to drive
- A step above economy compacts in build quality and features thanks to parent BMW
- Fun-to-cost ratio is very good for the EV segment
- Abysmal 114 mile range is not competitive beyond local driving
- Only available as a 2 Door Hardtop in the U.S.
- Can get expensive quick with MINI’s famously vast personalization options
MINI Cooper SE Exterior, Body and Packaging
The MINI Cooper SE stays true to the iconic MINI design, which is easily recognizable on the road with its classic round headlights, flat roof, and high-visibility greenhouse. The Hardtop 2 Door model, which is the only body style currently available in the electrified SE version, offers a usable backseat and trunk space, although comfort may be limited.
Buyers have the option to personalize their MINI Cooper SE with a wide range of choices, including the iconic hood stripes and various mirror caps, at an additional cost. The Cooper SE’s personalization options are a significant part of its appeal to its fanbase. However, adding these options will increase the MSRP. Despite the name, the 2 Door is not as cramped as one might expect and is surprisingly spacious. The longer Clubman or small SUV Countryman are not currently available in electric versions.
MINI Cooper SE Interior, Features and Tech
The MINI Cooper SE is based on the existing internal combustion Cooper that’s been on sale since 2015. BMW took the approach of not fixing what’s not broken, which makes sense given the brand’s specialized customer base. However, they kept the Cooper line fresh with significant tech and design updates throughout its lifecycle, including the Cooper SE and its gasoline siblings. Both versions receive digital gauge clusters, a widescreen infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, park distance control, and more.
Cabin quality is top-notch, and the Cooper SE boasts BMW’s bank-vault solid feeling, thanks to its parent company’s production methods. The car also features fun ambient lighting in various colors, adding to the personalized feel of the car, which is not common in this class.
MINI Cooper SE Driving Experience
The MINI Cooper SE truly shines in the driving experience. It offers all the driving fun of the gasoline models and then some. There’s the added benefit of instant torque that allows you to burn rubber and experience that heavy go-kart steering that made MINI famous. While it may lack the turbo whooshes and exhaust pops of the gasoline models’ BMW 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, it more than makes up for it with its exhilarating driving experience. The Cooper SE is ideal for short commutes or city driving, as long as you don’t require a lot of space. It adds a touch of excitement to mundane drives.
MINI Cooper SE Electric Charging and Range
While the MINI Cooper SE offers a fun driving experience, its quoted 114-mile electric range is significantly less than other EVs on the market in 2023. However, it’s worth noting that the Cooper SE has been on the market for several years, and BMW Group’s more recent electric vehicles have significantly better range. The next generation of the Cooper SE is expected to benefit from these improvements.
While the Cooper SE may not be marketed as a long-distance cruiser, it’s still a specialty car with unique features. There are other offerings from Tesla, VW, Audi, and parent company BMW that provide greater range if needed. The Cooper SE offers both AC and DC charging ports and can handle up to 7.4 kW on AC chargers and up to 50 kW on DC fast chargers. An 80% quick charge on DC is achievable in 36 minutes. The electric motor powers the front wheels only, in classic MINI fashion.
MINI Cooper SE Pricing
The MINI Cooper SE starts at $30,900 in the U.S., and buyers have various options to personalize the car with different equipment, which can drastically affect the final price. For more information on these options, visit www.miniusa.com. It’s important to note that the Cooper SE no longer qualifies for federal tax incentives as of 2023 since its assembly takes place in Oxford, England. However, MINI will soon move production of the electric SE to China, as reported by several media outlets.
MINI Cooper SE Final Thoughts
In our review, the MINI Cooper SE is MINI’s first foray into the electrified age, offering a perfect formula for a fun EV. Despite the admittedly low range number, this car works for weekend drivers who enjoy Saturday morning coffee runs and crave an unforgettably fun package. The Cooper SE’s setup is iconic and delivers more smiles per charge than nearly anything else on the road. Don’t be put off by the range number; embrace the exhilarating driving experience that this car offers.