New-look electric Mini revealed with bold cabin rethink and two powertrain options.
The reinvention of Mini has accelerated with the launch of the new Mini Cooper electric hatchback, which – together with the new Mini Countryman – marks the start of a wide-reaching revamp and expansion of the British marque’s line-up as it pushes to become an EV-only brand.
Unlike the old Mini Electric, the new three-door electric hatchback – which takes the fabled Cooper name – sits on a bespoke EV platform. This has been developed by Spotlight Automotive, a China-based joint venture between Mini parent firm BMW and Great Wall Motor.
The new Cooper and the Countryman both showcase Mini’s new Characteristic Simplicity design language, which creative chief Oliver Heilmer said is focused “on the essentials of the brand”. The already extensively seen Cooper builds on Mini’s trademark design themes with circular headlights and a new octagonal front grille.
The exterior is free of chrome, the wheel-arch trims have been removed and the door handles now sit flush. The minimalist interior design echoes that of the original BMC Mini of 1959, featuring a round instrument cluster above a bar of toggles.
The curved dashboard has a knitted textile surface and a 9.4in OLED infotainment touchscreen, claimed to be the first circular one fitted to a production car. The software is Mini’s latest Android-based operating system.
The EV will be available in two forms. The Cooper E has a 135kW front-mounted motor and a 40.7kWh battery, giving it a claimed range of 305km – substantially up on the old Electric. The Cooper SE gets 160kW, which is enough for a 0-100km/h time of 6.7sec, and a 54.2kWh battery, giving it a range of 402km.
They can be charged at the fastest rate of only 95kW, however.
Both cars will offer various Mini Experience modes that bring their own displays and powertrain characteristics, including a new Go-Kart Mode. The various driving modes are also complemented by new digital driving sounds.
They will exist alongside a new petrol-engined Cooper hatchback that will be visually identical but based on the current ICE Mini platform and produced in Oxford.
The Mini Electric wasn’t the first hatchback EV and it certainly isn’t the best, but it was the first car to show that EVs don’t need to be 440kW dragsters to have a sense of fun.
Despite being a bit of an afterthought (effectively an ICE Mini Hatch with batteries taking the place of the engine, fuel tank and exhaust), it managed to combine instant electric punch and a pointy chassis into something quite compelling.
Of course, its short range is a big handicap, and newer cars like the Fiat 500, MG 4 and Cupra Born have since eclipsed it as our favourite affordable driver’s EVs, but the Electric still serves as strong proof of concept for the battery-powered hot hatch, and it has been a bit of a commercial success for Mini, making up a fifth of all the brand’s sales these days.
For the second generation, Mini is doing things properly. This time, the car is based on a dedicated EV platform, which was developed as part of the Spotlight Automotive joint venture with China’s Great Wall Motors.