2020 and 2021 Mini Cooper SE is All-Electric

by Tom Crosby

With the introduction of the all-electric subcompact MINI Cooper SE, buyers can now choose gas, hybrid or all-electric from the MINI line-up of attractive, fun-to-drive cars.

2020 MINI Cooper SE 2-Door Hardtop Iconic Review

We test-drove the 2020 MINI Cooper SE 2-door hardtop Iconic, smaller and less expensive than the SE Countryman plug-in hybrid, with the current lowest base price for an all-electric vehicle.

It has only one major drawback – a meager 108-mile range, less than half the range of some competitors, but perfect for urban areas. For 2021, there are no changes.

Top trim above Signature and Signature Plus, the Iconic version added $7,000 to include navigation and technical connections, wireless charging, heads-up display (visible with sunglasses on), parking aids and harman/kardon radio with Apple CarPlay, etc. Dynamic cruise control was standard.

There is a federal tax credit of $7,500, possible state tax credits and HOV lane access. EPA estimates a $600 annual electricity cost.

Hooked to a fast charger, an 80% charge occurs in 36 minutes, MINI says. A vehicle TurboCord works on 120- and 240-volt outlets. We charged 95% in ten hours using 120V.

Touches of yellow color on wheels, front fascia, badging, side mirrors and doorsills indicate electric, marking a visual difference from traditional Cooper SEs. With a white silver body and gray roof, Iconic MINI may be the “cutest” coupe on the road today.

Nimble and agile to drive with a 98-inch wheelbase, it sprints using the all-electric BMW i3 powertrain (BMW owns MINI) while riding on 17-inch run-flat tires that felt rough on uneven pavement.

Take your foot off the throttle and either of two regenerative braking modes slows you down, triggering illumination of rear brake lights resembling the British flag.

Drivers learn they don’t need to pump the brakes as much. There are four drive modes: Green+ for emergency range-saving, Green for relaxed throttle, Mid for normal driving and Sport to sharpen throttle with max acceleration.

Insurance crash tests gave MINI a top safety score.

The cabin enjoys some minor yellow trim, otherwise resembling the interior of other MINI Coopers.
Fit and finish is excellent; leather front seats bolstered, heated and comfortable; scrunched rear seats fold.

An 8.8-inch circular center touch-screen reacts to a center spine knob for functions and information, such as real-time traffic. Voice recognition is good.

The elliptical dashboard display provides info on charging, digital speed and remaining travel miles.

At a Glance

LIKES: Price, cute, nimble, handling, upscale cabin, power, regeneration
DISLIKES: Limited range, tight rear seats, slightly rough ride
BOTTOM LINE: Excellent urban runabout, least expensive “green” coupe

Fact File: 2020 Mini Cooper SE Iconic Electric Hardtop 2-Door

Base price w/destination fee
Curb weight
Wheelbase
Length
Width
Engine
Horsepower
Torque
Transmission
EPA Rating
Range
Performance
$30,750 ($37,750 as tested)
3,099 lbs.
98.2 inches
151.4 inches
68.0 inches
Permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 32.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack
181 horsepower
199 lb-ft
Single-speed, 2 levels of regeneration
Equivalent of 115 miles per gallon city/100 hwy
108 miles
0-60 in just over 6 seconds
 

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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested world-wide market.

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