The vision for an all-electric MINI has existed for a long time, mostly because of its compact dimensions and status as the original city runabout. Under the BMW umbrella, it seemed like the perfect vehicle to demonstrate the company’s budding alternative powertrain division.
But the course of history showed the BMW i3 and i8 could be those debut vehicles. And so the world thought a MINI with the same technologies was just around the corner. Yet, here we are, in 2019, only now seeing its production debut. There might have been MINI hybrids in the preceding years, but Cooper SE is where things kick off.
The timing of its launch does mean that the fully electric MINI is far from being a buyer’s only choice, despite it’s commendable range of between 235 and 270km from a 32.6kWh battery, depending on which drive mode is selected and how much kinetic regeneration is allowed. Its performance is equally impressive with a single electric motor driving the front wheels, producing 135kW and 270Nm for a 0-100km/h sprint time in a respectable 7.3 seconds.
Its 3-door form factor might not make it ideal for ferrying passengers, but its interior volume and cargo capacity should be very competitive against other small EV hatches such as the Nissan LEAF, the Peugeot e208, Renault ZOE, the Hyundai Kona Electric, and the upcoming Honda E. With the seats folded, up to 731 litres of room is afforded.
Each Cooper SE will be specified quite generously, so says BMW, with up 17-inch lightweight alloys, premium interior trim and upholstery, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with built-in network connectivity support for real time traffic updates and over-the-air software installs.
Production is being ramped up with order books open starting with select markets in Europe – other regions to follow. Initial deliveries are slated to begin in early 2020. Our guess is that this one will be a much more popular vehicle than the slightly-too-quirky i3 ever was.