The Mini Cooper SE continues to be an affordable entryway into all-electric motoring that nobody really talks about. I drove one a little more than a year ago, and it was fine — totally fine. But Mini is hoping to reinvigorate the conversation with a drop-top version, called the Cooper SE Convertible. The only catch? Mini won’t make any more than 999 of them, and they’re all destined for Europe.
The Cooper SE Convertible dates back to last summer, when Mini prepared a one-off version that, at the time, the company did not plan to bring to market. Eight months later, the limited-run model will be rolling out of the company’s plant in the Netherlands. It’s working with the same 184 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque as the hardtop version, with the same 32.6-kWh battery pack. It also only comes in black or white, which doesn’t scream “Mini” to me, but I digress.
While the exercise is puzzling, there’s a reason why Mini is targeting Europe alone for this vehicle. According to Mini, one in every five cars it sells on the continent happens to be an all-electric Cooper SE. For short hops around European cities, the SE’s EPA-estimated 110-mile battery range would seem to be more than adequate. Here in the U.S., it’s potential cause for range anxiety.
Of course, 110 miles is probably enough for plenty of Americans — even if they won’t admit it — and that small battery brings benefits. It keeps the car light (for an EV), which allows it to retain the marque’s trademark zippy handling. On paper, the added heft of the power soft top may hamper that a bit, but I’m willing to bet the weight penalty is offset by having no barrier between you and the open sky.
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Speaking of which, Mini claims this is “the world’s first convertible with a purely electric drive.” That’s sort of true, but only if you dismiss the original Tesla Roadster and Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Cabrio as targas. Personally, I don’t, and I refuse to stand for the distinction. But whether it’s first or not, the SE Convertible’s mere existence forces you to take a step back and wonder why nobody else is making an electric convertible these days. Somebody should really get on that. After all, Mini isn’t building enough of these things to go around.