The 2020 MINI Cooper SE isn’t going to win over EV critics

The new Mini Electric. Credit BMW MINI

The new Mini Electric. Credit BMW MINIMore

MINI - and BMW more broadly - has been promising an electric version of its urban favorite for some time now, though the Mini Cooper SE doesn't stray too far from what we've seen before in BMW's stable.

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Six decades after the original Mini first rolled off the production line in Oxford, its owner BMW has unveiled a new electric version it hopes will herald a new era - and help the German carmaker meet looming European Union emissions targets. Joining the existing plug-in hybrid in the line-up, the distinctive Cooper SE promises punchy performance from its 181 horsepower front-wheel drive powertrain, but range is looking underwhelming. Mini says the Cooper SE is limited to a top speed of 93 miles per hour, that it'll do 0-62 miles per hour in 7.3 seconds and that its "innovative driving dynamics system with wheel slip limiting close to the actuator" (whatever that means) will offer "particularly intense and unmistakable agility, known as the go-kart feeling". In Europe, the SE will have a range of 146 to 168 miles, but U.S. EPA figures have yet to be announced. From a fast-charging station that allows 50 kW charging, you'll only need 35 minutes for an 80% charge.

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As for what it's like on the road, the driver can select between four different modes (Sport, MID, Green and Green+). The SE has different suspension tuning, a stability-control system created to deal with the instantaneous torque from the electric motor, and four driving modes, including a Green+ mode designed for maximum efficiency that disables or limits features such as climate control. Interestingly, Mini says the all-electric hatchback can keep up the pace "effortlessly" with ICE-powered sports cars over the first 60 meters (nearly 200 feet). Those bright yellow body accents on the front grille and side mirror caps denote this isn't an ordinary Mini, much like the funky alloy wheels essentially carried over from the showcar. Optional 17-inch aerodynamic wheels have an asymmetrical design, while the standard wheels come in at 16-inches. When the vehicle is charging, the cluster shows available range, the percent of charge, outside temperature, the time the auto will be done charging, and other relevant info. Using a smartphone app, SE owners can also heat or cool their car's interior to a specific temperature before getting in. A full EV version of the three-door hatch complete with a 124-mile range, three trim levels and a starting price of £24,400. After coming away impressed by our stint in a prototype, we're excited to get our hands on the new electric Mini.

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