Let’s get this straight from the very beginning: I’m very enthusiastic about this MINI Cooper SE and I won’t attempt to hide that in this article. Not one bit.

If you follow us on social media you might have noticed that we’ve been driving a lot of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and EVs the past weeks. We’re moving along with the electrification and had some catching up to do. So when Celine from Kalfsbeek MINI asked me if I’d be interested in 4 days with the MINI Cooper SE, it fit right in. I told the news to Beau and after his experience with the MINI Cooper S (review here), he offered to drop by. More than 2 weeks have passed and we’re both still a bit hyped about the MINI Cooper SE, I tell you why in the rest of this article.

EV Hot Hatch

After I heard the EV hatchback could be charged at a supercharging station I live close by to, my range anxiety dissipated. Why did I have it? Well the MINI houses relatively small 32,6 kWh battery, giving it a real-life range of 180 kilometers. Just how far we got, is something I’ll tell you about later on. The MINI Cooper is a car known to drive like a go-cart and it having an electric drivetrain could make for a dream marriage. Batteries lay at the bottom of the car, making the center of gravity lower than any other MINI. Combine that with the instant torque and you should be getting the point by now. This is an EV hot hatch and surprised Beau and me tremendously in the way it offers fun. Beau wondered how the new GP could be more fun, something we hope to find out soon.

Facts

But before I get carried away too much, it’s time for facts. Electric vehicles are always heavyweights and this car isn’t any different. It weighs around 1500 kilograms with driver included. In terms of dimensions, the MINI is the same size as the 3-door version it is based on, with the only difference being that it sits slightly higher. MINI kept the inside dimensions similar, an impressive feat. Reworked bumpers hide this growth well. I didn’t spot it though, I only found out afterwards. The fun part of the facts barrage: the drivetrain is a 184 horsepower and 270 Nm electric engine that powers the front wheels. This powertrain pushes the MINI to a hundred in 7.3 seconds, but damn does it feel quick. Vmax is met at 150 km/h, not that we get anywhere close on Dutch roads.

Range and charging

Not having the biggest range and battery is a deliberate choice for this vehicle. Bigger batteries meant the car would become more expensive, heavier, and it would have reduced space for its occupants. Therefore it has the option to ‘fastcharge’ which allows a 10% to 80% charge in around 30 minutes. You need a 49 kW charger for this, the one I live close by to happened to be one of those. Over the course of 4 days, Beau and I clocked up around 400 kilometers on the SE. On motorways (all of the restricted to a hundred) we averaged 20.5 kWh per 100 kilometers and in the city, it dropped to 18.5 kWh per 100 kilometers. Electric cars love cities, their ability to recuperate energy when braking is key there. How far you get really depends on the types of roads you use the MINI on. Time spend on roads with lots of traffic lights will get you further than any time spent on highways.

Ride and feel

Oh damn, this thing is fun to drive! Small, agile, endless grip, communicative steering, and a gas response worth dying for, the MINI Cooper SE got Beau and I giggling like schoolgirls. Combine that package with the low center of gravity and you’ll find even your own mother trashing it around roundabouts. Believe me, I tried this with my mom. All this is playfulness is enhanced by the unique MINI feel the interior has.

Concluding

After returning the car it hit me that this may be the most fun I had in a small hatch in years, Beau eagerly agreed. He called it the surprise of 2020 in terms of driving. It may very well be the most fun hot hatch we have driven in the 5 years that we write about cars. The only thing that kept stinging was that just an extra 50 kilometers of range would have been perfect. Or I should accept that those city inhabitants are the only people buying these cars for now. Kalfsbeek MINI, thanks again for lending us what might be our ‘car of the year’.

EngineElectric, front wheel mounted
Power184 horsepower / 270 Nm
Battery32.6 kWh pack with Fase II and CCS Fastcharge port
Range (tested)Maximum 176 kilometers achieved
Price as tested (NL)€ 37.268