The stylish and zippy all-electric MINI Cooper SE

If you’re an environmentally conscious person looking for a zero-emission, fun to drive vehicle, you should probably test drive the 2020 MINI Cooper SE. The first all-electric model from the German automaker, the MINI Cooper SE offers agile handling, a luxurious interior, and an energetic powertrain. However, it does not have the best-in-class drive range (just over 200 km on a single charge). The cramped rear seats and cargo capacity aren’t going to get any better either, considering the size of the car.

The 2020 Mini Cooper SE is available in three trim levels in the international markets namely Signature, Signature Plus, and Iconic. However, here we have only two models: Trim S and Trim L.

All the models are well-equipped and boast an electric motor that delivers 181 horsepower (135 kW) and 270 Nm (199 pound-feet) of torque, mating to a single-speed transmission routing power to front wheels only. Sorry, no AWD!

Although these figures are not smashing, the powertrain is punchy and agile. The nippy little car can accelerate to 100 km/h from zero in just 7.3 seconds and it tops out at 150 km/h.

The 2020 MINI Cooper SE gets a 32.6 kWh battery system that when fully charged can deliver around 200 km of range, which is not enough for a frequent business traveller. The electric charging stations aren’t as prevalent in South Africa as they are in the US and Europe - by the end of last year, South Africa just had over 1,000 electric charging stations. That said, the 200km range is adequate for a regular urban traveller who wants to enjoy a zippy and fun drive.

You can charge the MINI Electric using a standard three-prong 120- or 240-volt outlet in your home or purchase a specialty Level 2 home charger for quicker charging.

While the exterior does not deviate much from the iconic MINI design, the real magic happens inside. Most people appreciate the distinct interior design elements, whereas some believe it feels low-rent due to the extensive use of hard plastics.  

The infotainment system is particularly easy to use from the driver’s seat. And some nifty features make the MINI Cooper SE stand apart in its class, including the energy-efficient heat pump and car pre-conditioning feature. The standard facilities inside include a 6.5-inch display, navigation, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and the Mini Connected telematics system.

Although the 2020 MINI Cooper SE has not passed the coveted NHTS and IIHS safety tests yet, it does come with excellent standard safety facilities including forward-collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, speed limit information, and a rearview camera. You can pay more to get a head-up display, front and rear parking sensors, and parallel park assist.

The 2020 Mini Cooper SE is a responsive electric car for urban driving. Its powerful powertrain and adept handling surpass most of its rivals. On the other hand, it’s not as spacious as other cars in its class. The below-average drive range may be the biggest deal-breaker for some, but if it is not a problem for you, it is worth every rand. The Cooper SE starts from R 642,000. (Price correct at time of publication.)

If you’re shopping around for a new car, our advice is to conduct your online research first. Start right here, on the MotorHappy blog – check out some of our latest car reviews.


Please note the imagery supplied in this blog was taken off

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