It’s not just BMW that is reinventing the cars it’s most known for. Its youthful subsidiary Mini has also redesigned its three-door hatch entirely, now sporting the name most people called it anyway—the Mini Cooper. It’s also now fully electric, sporting several upgrades over the cute but flawed current-generation Cooper SE.
Firstly, it should be noted that the new Mini Cooper isn’t a pure BMW product. In fact, it’s been developed in partnership with Great Wall Motor (GWM), which currently sells the also-electric Ora Good Cat in Malaysia. Not that the new car is in any way related to the Good Cat—it’s built on a new platform and will be produced at a new plant in Zhangjiagang, China.
Just like its predecessor, this latest model is front-wheel drive only, with a single motor producing 135kW (181hp) and 290Nm of torque in base Cooper E trim. That’s 20Nm more than the outgoing Cooper SE, although the zero-to-100km/h acceleration time is identical at 7.3 seconds. You can at least forget about the old car’s paltry 232km range, as the much larger 40.7kWh battery brings with it a significant boost in range, albeit only up to 305km on the WLTP cycle.
If you want more power and/or range, you’ll have to step up to the new Cooper SE, which churns out 160kW (215hp) and 330Nm. So equipped, the car scoots to 100km/h in 6.7 seconds, while a 54.2kWh battery delivers a claimed range of 402km. As for charging, the Cooper E supports up to 75kW of DC fast charging power (up from 50kW before), while the Cooper SE bumps that up to 95kW; both will charge the battery from 10 to 80% in 30 minutes. Maximum AC charging remains the same at 11kW.
While the new Mini Cooper retains the same upright, wheel-at-each-corner stance as its predecessor, the brand’s unmistakable design language has seen a wholesale revamp. Gone is the clamshell bonnet, front fender “scuttles”, black wheel arch extensions and dependence on chrome components—all part of the company’s new “Charismatic Simplicity” design language.
Continuing with the reductive theme, the car sports flush door handles (helping the Mini Cooper achieve a drag coefficient of 0.28), black undersides and triangular taillights that are joined together by a black strip. You still, of course, get round headlights, a large hexagonal grille, a wraparound window design and an available contrasting finish for the roof and door mirrors.
Inside, Mini has taken the minimalist ethos to the next level, dispensing with even the instrument cluster, just like Tesla. Vehicle data such as speed, battery charge and range is instead shown at the top of the circular centre touchscreen, a 9.4-inch OLED panel produced by Samsung Display. Unlike Tesla, the Mini Cooper can at least be optioned with a head-up display.
The touchscreen runs on the Mini Operating System 9, an Android-based full-touch interface that eliminates the rotary controller on the centre console. It incorporates the air-conditioning controls, a cloud-based navigation system (optionally available with augmented reality directions), widgets on the home screen, a row of menu and shortcut buttons at the bottom and a “Hey Mini” voice control system.
Tapping on the speed readout brings up a full speedometer, power and battery charge display. Just like on the new BMW 5 Series, you can play games such as Overcooked on the touchscreen when stationary, thanks to a partnership with AirConsole.
You can also spec the Mini Cooper with a projector behind the touchscreen, displaying coloured patterns on the fabric-trimmed dashboard; you can even match the colour to a wallpaper on the display, which can be added through a smartphone app. Elsewhere, you’ll find slim air-con vents, a key-like twist knob to start the car and fabric and/or faux leather upholstery options, along with an optional panoramic glass roof.
As the Cooper is still a small car, the boot is still tiny, and actually, the 200 litres of luggage space is less than what you get in the current petrol-powered model (211 litres). Still, you can at least fold the 60:40-split rear seats to boost cargo-carrying capacity to 800 litres. Unlike many other EVs, there’s no front boot to offset the lack of space in the rear.
Minis are known to be fun to drive, so the new Cooper features springs and dampers tuned for spirited handling, along with wider tyre options, highly preloaded anti-roll bars and a front strut brace. Drivers can choose between Core, Green and Go-Kart drive modes (or “Experiences”), which not only adjust the throttle but also the steering response and even the stability control intervention. You also get new driving sounds on the inside.
The Mini Cooper continues to be available with the usual driver assists, including a revised park assist that can better identify parking spaces and even initiate parking manoeuvres automatically. A remote parking function is also available, operable using a smartphone app.