Batteries located in the floor give the Cooper SE a low centre of gravity, even though it rides slightly higher than petrol models. Picture: SUPPLIED
Batteries located in the floor give the Cooper SE a low centre of gravity, even though it rides slightly higher than petrol models. Picture: SUPPLIED

Coinciding with Mini's 60th birthday, the brand announced the launch of the brand’s first electric car, the Cooper SE.

It’s the first purely electric Mini and only the second battery-electric vehicle (BEV) from the group after the BMW i3. Already it shirks off any cynicism that may follow it due to its original 1959 concept of its being a car made for the urban jungle.

The car can be charged from a household wall socket, a home charging wall-box or at public charging stations with fast direct-current charging.  The Cooper SE has a brake-energy recuperation feature that can be configured in two levels for individual one-pedal feeling while a toggle switch also allows the driver the choice of intense or low-level recuperation efficiency with the relevant deceleration impact regardless of chosen Mini driving modes. These are Sport, MID, Green and Green + with the latter disabling the heating and air conditioning in order to increase driving range. 

A lithium-ion battery with 94Ah capacity powers a 135kW/270Nm electric motor. Driving range is rated at 235 km and performance is quoted at 100km/h in 7.3 seconds a top speed limited to 150km/h.

The car rides 18mm higher than regular Minis but locating the heavy batteries in the floor makes for a centre of gravity that’s 30mm lower, which the company says ensures the Cooper’s hallmark nimbleness and fun-to-drive nature.

The interior is pure MINI, save for the lack of a rev counter. Picture: SUPPLIED
The interior is pure MINI, save for the lack of a rev counter. Picture: SUPPLIED

Secure roadholding and optimal weight distribution is also achieved by the placement of its electric motor, integrated power electronics and transmission in the front section while the batteries subdivided into 12 modules are laid out in a T-shaped form in the vehicle floor.

The cabin, which isn’t constrained in any way by its being electric, features new touches to the recognizable design layout. That huge clock-sized central display still dominates proceedings.

The electric drivetrain hasn’t eaten into the luggage compartment either, and boot space remains the same 211l with the rear seats up and 731l when split-folded as in the regular models. Standard equipment will be LED headlamps, two-zone automatic air conditioning, electric parking brake and Connected Navigation with real-time traffic alerts.

Mini's introduction of the electric-powered Cooper did not include any info on a model with a range extender motor and this doesn’t confirm nor quell its probability.

SA introduction of the Cooper SE should be in 2021 in very limited numbers, “but as time goes we will communicate any updates on this exciting new product", said Hailey Philander of Mini SA’s product communications department.