Of all the automotive icons, there are few of which I can think of that have entirely reinvented themselves, yet managed to retain their iconic status.
Love-it or hate-it, the modern Mini is an automotive icon. It mightn’t carry the heritage of Austin/Leyland models which appeals to the car enthusiast, but the modern Mini is recognisable to a different crowd.
Sure, the days of the Austin Mini, with micro-monocoque shell and a peppy push-rod engine are gone, replaced with a heavily-stylised, gargantuan-bodied hatch, with Bavarian undertones. But even most of the car ambivalent public, will still recognise a modern Mini as a Mini.
Although the Mini Cooper EV couldn’t be further from the original, Mini promises a fun, stylish hatch, which apparently handles like a go-cart.
Mini gave us the keys to see what it was all about.
What We Like and Dislike About The 2022 Mini Cooper SE EV
|What we like
|What we don’t like
Interior design and build quality
Harman Kardon audio system
Actually fun to drive!
Wireless charger doesn’t fit large phones
Abysmal rear passenger space
What’s In The 2022 Mini Cooper SE EV Range?
The Mini Cooper is offered in many different flavours. There’s a 3-door hatch, a 5-door hatch, even a convertible. However, the Mini Cooper SE EV is only offered as a 3-door.
There’s two core spec levels; Classic being the entry model and Mini Yours being the high spec variant. The EV range also has an option for a Multi-tone roof for an extra two grand.
Prices are set out below:
|Mini Yours Multi-Tone Roof
|3-Door Hatch EV
2022 Mini Cooper SE EV Standard Equipment Highlights
- Airbags for driver and front passenger (2 front, 2 side, curtain airbags in front and rear)
- (ABS) including Brake Assist and Cornering Brake Control (CBC)
- Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
- Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) including Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC)
- Electronic Braking Force Distribution Control
- ISOFIX child seat mounting
- City Crash Mitigation (CCM) with pedestrian detection – also known as Autonomous
- Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Forward Collision Warning with visual and audio warning signal, plus braking preconditioning
- Park Distance Control (front & rear), including Parking Assistant
- Speed Limit Info
- Electronic park brake
- Run flat tyres
- LED headlights with Union Jack taillights
- Piano black exterior trim
- Dinamica/Leather John Cooper Works sports seats
- Seat heating for driver & front passenger
- Piano black interior surface
- Nappa leather sports steering wheel
- Heated front seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Auto dipping interior mirror
- Dual zone automatic climate control
- Rear view camera
- Parking assistant
- Driving assistant incl. Lane departure warning.
- Digital instrument cluster with 5.5′ display
- Real time traffic
- Wireless integration of Apple CarPlay
- MINI Navigation System with 8.8′ touch display
- Digital radio
- Wireless charging
- 18 exterior paint combinations
- 60/40 split rear seat
- 17’’ alloys – 3 options
Mini Yours further adds
- Adaptive LED Headlights
- Headliner in Anthracite
- Sun protection glazing
- Panorama glass sunroof
- MINI Yours Leather Lounge sport seats
- 17’’ alloys – 5 options
There are more than 25 exterior colour options for the Mini Cooper SE EV, up to 5 alloy choices and two interior options.
For more details on the Mini Cooper SE EV, check out the MINI New Zealand website.
How Does The 2022 Mini Cooper SE EV Compare To Its Competition?
We’re definitely seeing the EV market expand. We’d probably be missing half this list three years ago. Here’s the competition for the Mini Cooper SE EV.
|Hyundai Kona 64kWh
|Hyundai Ioniq 5
|Tesla Model 3 Standard
|Hyundai Kona 39kWh
|Peugeot 208 EV
|Mini Cooper EV
|MG ZS EV
First Impressions of the 2022 Mini Cooper SE EV
13 Union Jacks is how many this Mini has. Where are they? There’s three outside, two being the taillights and a badge on the driver’s side. Inside, they’re on the floor mats, on the steering wheel, and even emblazoned onto headrests. One can’t but appreciate the irony, mainly because behind the Mini’s unashamed Anglophilia is their German parent company, BMW.
That said, these Minis are still made in the Oxford factory. I suppose I can give them a pass on this one.
So what’s different about the 2022 Mini Cooper SE EV? On the outside, there’s been a minor refresh at the front. There’s a new grille and bumper design, plus the addition of side vents replacing the low-mounted fog-lights. Mini has also ditched many of the plug-badges, replacing them with an “S” badge – the same one on the Cooper S, only in the electric green. There’s a few more aesthetic nips and tucks, but it’s still the classic modern Mini design we’ve come to recognise.
Is there anything I don’t like? That’d be the alloys. What are those things supposed to be?!
If you ignore the wheels, the Cooper still looks sharp even if the design has been around for years. Mini has this formula nailed.
What’s The Interior Like In The 2022 Mini Cooper SE EV?
Mini has been all-in with the retro throwback styling since the first modern Mini Cooper debuted in 2000. Much like the exterior, the interior is an evolution of the original design, but has been continuously modernised over time to include the latest technology. Whoever Mini employed to do said modernising must have been at the top of their game. This Mini’s interior still manages to look fresh and funky, without aging a wrinkle.
If you’ve not experienced a modern Mini product, the design and the build quality is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression. You can immediately tell this is a high-quality product the moment you climb inside. BMW is Mini’s parent company, and they’ve clearly made no exceptions on quality control.
Even if you are familiar with the brand, you’ll still be equally as impressed.
What are some of the interior highlights? For me, the steering wheel is one of them. You can feel your hands sink into the thick layers of leather, as you grip onto the chunky wheel. It’s a lovely thing to grab onto. Then, there’s all the retro-styled switchgear, which adds some theatre to otherwise an ordinary function.
The seats are also another strong point. I am exclusively talking about the front seating, you can forget about the rear (more on this later). The front seats are comfortable, supportive and offer plenty of adjustability, even if you need to do it manually.
What about interior space? I can imagine that if you’re tall, you’ve already dismissed the Mini from the outside. Surely, there’s no way you’d fit in that?!
Surprisingly, there’s plenty of space for the front occupants. You won’t be short of leg-room, and there’s plenty of head-room too. For example, I had a friend who is 6’3 sit in the car, they had no issues getting comfortable.
Of course, accommodating the front passengers naturally comes at the expense of those in the rear. If you push the front seat all-the way back, you’ll contact the rear seats with your chair. In reality, it’ll only be the dog or the kids sitting back there, and you won’t want to keep them there for long either.
Boot space isn’t exactly cavernous either, but were you really expecting it to be? The boot is 211 litres, which is more than ample for the weekly shop. There’s also a false floor, with storage for all the charging cables underneath.
One clear benefit of having BMW as a parent is that Mini gets access to BMW’s technology. Centred inside the dominant circular feature on the dash is an 8.8’’ widescreen infotainment screen. This system has many similarities to BMW’s i-Drive system, including the user interface, but the main giveaway is the physical control cluster situated near the gearstick. It’s pretty much the same as those used on old BMW’s.
BMW has spent years developing their i-Drive system, meaning Mini is the beneficiary of all those years of development. The result is that Mini’s infotainment system is very good. The resolution is excellent, and the interface is easy to navigate and understand. The system responds quickly most of the time. The infotainment unit is paired with an excellent 6-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
The driver’s display is an oval-shaped TFT screen. It’s simple, functional and has high resolution. The downside is that there’s no real configurability to it. Even though it has no bezel surrounding it, it doesn’t suffer from reflections.
Of course, not everything is perfect. Even though Mini’s designers have done a stellar job keeping this design fresh, there are some dated aspects. Interestingly, most of them are tech-related. I know, I know, I said before that the Mini has good stuff from BMW, and it does! However, there are a few accessories that might have been plucked from the last generation clearance bin.
For example, the heads-up display projects onto a piece of plastic, whereas other manufacturers (including BMW) are projecting it directly onto the windshield. There’s also the keyless entry system – you still need to press the grommet on the door handle to unlock the car. If this doesn’t sound like much, I should say that most Hyundai I’ve driven will allow you to simply touch the door handle, and it’ll unlock.
Finally, there’s the Qi wireless phone charger housed inside the centre armrest. I thought this was brilliant when I first saw it, but the spring-loaded clip doesn’t go back far enough to fit my Samsung S10+. Considering this phone is 2 years old, and Smartphones only seem to be getting bigger, this isn’t a great look for the Mini.
There are also a few model related quirks inside the Mini Cooper SE EV. The first is an odd omission, but that decorative bezel I mentioned – if you were in either the Cooper JCW or Clubman which Rob recently drove, you’d notice that the bezel has LED lights behind it, which change colour when you play with the climate controls. The EV doesn’t get these lighting effects.
I also didn’t know this car had a heated steering wheel until I got into the passenger’s side and looked over at the steering wheel. The switch is mounted on the plastic shroud on the left side of the steering wheel. You can’t see it as a driver, but instead you need to feel for it. It’s a slightly odd placement, especially given that there’s also a blank switch near the heated seat controls.
The final complaint is with the sun visors – they’re hopeless.
What’s The 2022 Mini Cooper SE EV Like To Drive?
I’ve had the privilege of driving many electric vehicles, from MG’s budget-friendly ZS EV through to Audi’s face-warpingly fast E-Tron GT RS. While some of these EV’s have certainly left a lasting impression (the E-Tron being one of those), there’s still no EV to date which has left me lusting after its driving experience.
Sure, you can call it a bias. But take the Audi, for example. Once the novelty of the neck-snapping straight-line speed had worn off, I often asked myself – ‘okay, what’s next?’. Eventually, the Audi just became a car I’d use to impress other people, rather than myself. Even though I’d happily make space for the Audi in my garage, it wouldn’t be parked in the “fun” spot.
So, my inner cynic expected the Mini Cooper EV to be similar to its electric competitors. Quick? Yes. Highly efficient? Most likely. Great for day-to-day errands? Without a doubt. And as bland to drive as its direct competitors? Fortunately, no.
Starting with the powertrain, the Mini Cooper S EV uses the same powertrain found in the BMW i3, but instead configured for front-wheel drive. It outputs 135kW of power and 270Nm of torque. These figures don’t sound like much, but they’re roughly equivalent to the petrol-driven Cooper S, which outputs 141kW and 299Nm of torque. Cooper S is certainly no slouch, if any past experience is to go by.
So, it shouldn’t startle anybody that the Cooper S EV is quite a spritely wee thing. But even I wasn’t prepared for just how agile the Cooper S EV was. In the real world, the Cooper S EV is surprisingly quick!
We all know that EV’s are quick off-the-line, but many slow down as you push into motorway speeds. The Cooper S EV seemingly shrugs at this notion. Push your foot down at any speed and the wee Mini will shoot off. There’s an almost perfect level of torque available no matter the speed you’re travelling, meaning it felt just as rapid on the motorway and as it was around the suburbs. Sure, top speed is only 150kph, but that’s still plenty of juice for passing.
To put it another way, if you were cross-shopping the Cooper S EV against a Peugeot 208 EV, or a Mazda MX-30, you’d think the others were asleep!
It’s not uncommon to get some wheel spin when launching from a standstill. Doing this will generate some unexpected torque steer, but nothing drastic enough to throw you into the other lane.
Of course, we cannot talk about agility without discussing handling. The combination of the Cooper S EV’s short-wheelbase and lightweight chassis means that the wee Mini does take to the twisty stuff well. Compared to other EV’s, the Mini feels light on its feet. It’ll sit flat through fast bends and tracks corners well. The steering is also heavy and direct.
There’s also a decent amount of grip at the front-end too. The latest Cooper S EV sits on a set of Pirelli P7 Cinturato tyres, replacing the Goodyear Eagle F1 on the last model. Some minds would consider this a downgrade, but grip never seemed to be an issue for the Mini.
While the Mini will leave behind its closest competitors on a jaunt over the Remutaka Hill, I struggle to endorse the claims of Mini’s marketeers, saying it “handles like a go-cart”.
Maybe I am unfairly comparing the Mini to dedicated sports-car competition, because I must admit, this Mini handles well. Yet, the handling never really inspired me. For me, the chassis felt too neutral. It didn’t want to rotate nor turn in naturally. Rather than tipping into a corner with enthusiasm, changing direction took some encouragement. It’s almost as if corners were an exercise, and not done for pleasure.
Whether or not I’ve set the benchmark too high for a small hatch, I’ll happily admit this Cooper EV S is still a fun drive, which is a title many EV’s struggle to claim.
Although achieving this experience does come with a range penalty for the wee Mini. We know batteries are heavy, and this Mini isn’t, weighing at only 1,365kg. The Mini Cooper EV uses a 32.6kWh battery, of which 28.9kWh is usable. Claimed range is 233km WTLP.
Range is the Cooper S EV’s Achilles heel, especially when compared with the similarly-priced Peugeot 208 EV, which offers a range figure of 349kms. Of course, having a short-range isn’t the end of the world. It simply means the Mini EV is suited to an urban environment – 200kms of range should be no problem for most commuters.
That said, I never saw the dash tick over 200kms range after a full charge. This is primarily down to our energy consumption. During our test, we achieved an energy consumption figure of 17.9kWh/100kms. Mini’s claimed figure is 15.2kWh/100kms, while Fred managed to get 13.8kWh/100kms when he reviewed last year’s model.
Has anything changed? Probably not. This time, our test involved a considerable amount of motorway driving, an environment where EV’s tend to consume more energy. Petrol vehicles usually have the opposite problem, consuming more gasoline around town than on the open road.
Of course, if you are attempting to squeeze as much range as possible out of the Cooper S EV, it does have four different drive modes, being Normal, Sport, Green and Green+. Switching into Green modes will blunt the throttle response, and in Green+, it’ll turn off the AC too.
As for regenerative braking, the Mini Cooper EV has two modes – High and Low. The car starts in high mode by default. In High mode, the level of regenerative braking is intense enough to slow you to a standstill. It’s effectively becoming a one pedal car in this mode. Mini knows how strong it is too, so they’ve programmed the brake lights to activate when you let-off the accelerator.
Low mode is friendlier for those that like to coast, but it’s still aggressive enough to slow you down even when coasting downhill. Personally, I found the aggressive regen settings to be a bit of a pain. Some EV’s have several regenerative braking modes to allow you to adjust it to the perfect level for downhill driving. It’s that sweet spot between maintaining your speed and trickling some charge into the batteries. I couldn’t achieve this in the Mini.
Another annoyance was the switch to adjust the regen is down in the centre console. I prefer having paddles for this.
As we mentioned earlier, the Mini is suited for a city environment as opposed to clocking up highway miles. Range is one factor, but another is the ride. The Cooper S EV rides firmly and generates a fair amount of road noise at speed. I also noticed that on windier Wellington days, there was a high-pitched wind-noise originating on the driver’s side of the car. This might have been a quirk with our test vehicle, but could be something to look out for during your test.As for safety technology, this latest iteration of the Cooper S EV has adaptive cruise control. The last Cooper EV DriveLife tested didn’t offer it. The Cooper S EV doesn’t have lane-keeping assistance, nor does it offer blind-spot monitoring. Though, in a car with these dimensions, you hardly have a use for it.
2022 Mini Cooper SE EV Specifications
|Price as Tested
|HV Electric Motor
|Single-speed direct drive
|Kerb Weight, Kg
|Length x Width x Height, mm
|3845 x 1727 x 1432
|Cargo Capacity, litres
|211 (all seats up)
731 (second row down)
|32.6, 28.9 usable
Battery type: lithium ion
|Advertised Spec – combined – 15.2 (WLTP)
Real World Test – combined – 17.9
|Turning circle, metres
|8-year Battery warranty
3 Years Scheduled Servicing
3 Years Warranty
3 Years Roadside Assistance
|ANCAP Safety Ratings
|ANCAP Rating – 4 stars
Rightcar.govt.nz – 5 Stars – NNS984
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