Today BMW announced its first all-electric vehicle since the i3. The 2020 Mini Cooper SE is a juiced version of the 2-door Mini hardtop and promises to stay true to the brand’s handling characteristics. So should we be expecting an electric go-kart? Because that would be fun.

The Mini Cooper SE’s 135-kilowatt electric motor sends 181 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque to the front wheels. The SE can accelerate from zero to 62 miles per hour in 7.3 seconds, according to a BMW press release. This is the same time listed on the Mini website for the internal combustion engine-powered (ICE) Cooper with an automatic transmission.

Top speed for the SE is limited to 93.2 mph. BMW says the electric Mini is 319 pounds heavier than the Cooper S 2-door hardtop with Steptronic transmission.

Range anxiety

EPA estimated range figures were not available at the time of the press release. BMW cites a range of 235-270 kilometers (146–168 miles) based the world harmonized light-duty vehicles test procedure (WLTP) cycle. We turned to a formula at InsideEVs.com to translate this into EPA figures. The WLTP range converts to an EPA range of 130–150 miles with an eight percent margin of error.

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BMW’s own i3, which was introduced in 2013, has a base range of 153 miles. The base model Nissan Leaf has an EPA range of 219 miles and the Chevrolet Bolt can go 238 miles. When compared to small EVs from other manufacturers, the Mini Cooper SE looks to fall short. It does top the Fiat 500e’s 84-mile range, however.

It’s clear that this car is intended for use as an urban commuter or errand runner rather than a road tripper.

Squeeze the juice

The Cooper SE’s 32.6 kWh battery is located in the vehicle floor, preserving luggage space while contributing to a center of gravity that is “at least 30 millimeters [1.2 inches] lower than in the MINI Cooper.” The car rides .7 inches higher than its ICE cousins to create ground clearance for the extra bulk.

The battery can be charged with a household 120 volt socket, wall mounted charger, and public charging stations. It also supports Level 2 AC charging and DC fast charging. The latter allows up to an 80-percent charge (50 kW) to be achieved in 35 minutes.

The heat pump uses uses 75 percent less energy than a conventional electric heater. You can set the car’s interior temperature via a smartphone app before getting in and setting off.

The motor’s quiet power delivery features “acoustic pedestrian protection.” The new Mini Cooper SE employs a speaker system to deliver noise when it is moving along at low speeds.

Spot the differences

It’s clear that this car is intended for use as an urban commuter or errand runner rather than a road tripper

The SE maintains the body lines, short overhangs, and wide-set wheels of the ICE hardtop. Yellow “MINI Electric” logos distributed among the front end, turn indicators, and tailgate are unique to the SE. The front end is closed, since the electric motor does not require much cooling. Optional yellow accents can be found in a bar that runs along the front end and on the mirror caps. The rear apron has been resigned to reduce aerodynamic drag. The unique standard 16-inch wheels and optional 17-inch wheels are made from lightweight alloys.

Electric touch

The SE’s suspension has been tuned specifically for this model to maintain the tight handling expected of a Mini. A Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system is implemented to deal with instant electric torque in any weather condition.

Four selectable drive modes allow you to set up your Cooper SE for comfort, economy, or performance. The regenerative braking system has two settings that determine how strongly the car will automatically decelerate when you lift off the throttle pedal. The stronger level allows one-pedal driving while the milder level gives a more traditional driving feel.

The SE has its own unique instrument cluster with digital displays that can show available range, current drive power, outside temperature, time and mileage, traffic sign detection reports, and navigation.

The electric Mini Cooper SE will be produced alongside its conventionally powered brethren at the Mini plant in Oxford, U.K. Production starts November 2019 and it should reach U.S. shores in early 2020.

The forgotten E

This isn’t the first electric Mini, though it will be the first offered for general sale. In 2009 BMW released the Mini E, which was available for lease in select areas in the United States and the U.K. It was developed as part of the testing process that led to the BMW i3. It had a range of about 150 miles.

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