The 2020 Mini Cooper SE Goes Electric, but Is the Range Enough?

All image credits: Mini

A punchy, little electric car is some people’s idea of the perfect city car. Just ask Smart, before it folded here. And now, Mini is taking a stab at it. Meet the all-electric 2020 Mini Cooper SE, with a range of a very much estimated 114 miles.

This range estimate comes from Automotive News, by the way. Mini’s own range estimate falls between “235 to 270 kilometers” (146 to 168 miles), but noted in its press release with big, bold letters that the U.S. EPA figures aren’t available yet. All that comes from a 32.6 kWh battery, which produces a claimed 181 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque.

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The SE is front-wheel drive and will hit zero to 62 mph in a supposed 7.3 seconds. The body needed to be raised 18 millimeters because the battery pack is in the floor, but Mini says that no trunk space was compromised. And because of that low center of gravity, Mini tells us that the car should be fun to drive, giving you the driver the “go-kart” feeling that people like in their Minis.

But here’s the thing: The Nissan Leaf, another compact electric car, comes with a 40 kWh battery that claims 150 miles of range, while the Kia Niro EV has a 64 kWh battery with an EPA-estimated range of 239 miles. True, the Mini’s battery is smaller than these two, but most American buyers have been conditioned to hold at least 150 to 200 miles of range as standard.

And also, will an electric Mini interest anybody? Mini sales are already down (dropped 7.3 percent in 2018 from 2017) and electric sales generally don’t pull huge numbers. On top of that, is an electric Mini that’s meant for urbanites the best demographic? In many spots in the U.S., especially here in NYC, there really isn’t anywhere to charge an electric car easily or conveniently, unless you have your own, private garage.

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All the same, though, the SE is good to have. It’s sort of the British Honda E, a car that we are very much excited about because it’s spunky and cool. Cars are getting far too large and annoying, so it’s a breath of fresh air when we see automakers focusing on a smaller and more compact future. You don’t need to transport as much shit as you think you do, I promise you that.

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I’ve argued before that range anxiety is just a construct of marketing, and I stand by it. You just have to be realistic with how and where you plan on doing the majority of your driving. To many, 114 miles of range is probably just fine.

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About the author

Kristen Lee

Writer at Jalopnik and consumer of many noodles.