Mini has just revealed it’s latest. And this one’s appropriate for a brand that has slot-car handling as a big part of its identity. It’s the Mini Cooper SE, where the SE is for electric.
Ok, it doesn’t actually stand for Super Electric or anything like that (does it?), it’s just a new badge. This Mini trades the range of gas and diesel engines the little car gets around the world for something with as much zing but more buzz than roar.
It’s a 184 hp electric motor powering the front wheels. And a new form of limited slip. The immediate power delivery of an electric motor apparently causes some problems when it comes to stopping wheelspin. So Mini says that they’ve designed a new “wheel-slip limiting close to the actuator” system. Which is a big name for a small car. The system is actually in the electronics, not a mechanical system. Instead of using a stand-alone stability control computer, Mini puts the calculations directly into the drive unit controller. That makes it more like a conventional gas car and Mini says it “perceptibly optimizes both set-off traction and driving stability in brake energy recovery mode, as well as when accelerating out of tight bends.”
The power supply in this Mini SE is a 32.6 kWh lithium-ion pack that Mini says delivers a range of 235 to 270 km. It will also allow for DC charging at up to 50 kW. That means, Mini says, an 80 percent charge in as little as 35 minutes.
That pack doesn’t cut into cargo space, which Mini pins at 211L with the seats up and 731 folded. Same as the gas version. More surprisingly, at 1,365 kg, it’s only 145 kg more than a gas version.
Mini hasn’t done much to set the car apart visually. There are some Mini electric logos on the turn signal inserts and on the grille. It’s also a special grille with neon yellow accents for the car.
Going electric shouldn’t compromise handling, and so Mini says that this electric will have a go-kart feeling. Which makes sense since so many go-karts are electric these days anyway. The center of gravity is 30 mm lower than the Cooper S, despite a body sitting 18 mm higher, and the automaker says that will give the car unique cornering dynamics.
There are four drive modes, ranging from Green+, which limits seat heating and the heat-pump AC to save electrons, to Sport. There are two regen modes. A low-level mode gives a more conventional driving experience, letting you coast into turns. The high level gives a more electric vehicle one-pedal feeling.
Inside, there’s a 5.5-inch colour display screen with an SE-specific cluster. It shows drive modes and charge level as well as other EV info.
Also typical Mini, the automaker says there will be a wide range of trim choices available, inside and out. But we’ll note that today’s specifications were revealed with the note that they’re Euro-only. Canadian trim and option details won’t come until closer to launch. Which is set for sometime next spring. So we won’t go into too much detail, but expect plenty of choices to suit your style.