First Drive: MINI Cooper SE

Smart, green and perfectly formed, the all new MINI Electric has arrived writes Geraldine Herbert

What is it?
Born out of the fuel shortages of the 1950s and the onslaught of super-economical Bubble cars the first MINI rolled off the production line in 1959. Now 61 years later and in response to a crisis of a different sort MINI’s first-ever all-electric offering has been launched.

Is it a looker? Based on the 3-Door Hatch, the MINI Electric logo on the car’s side scuttles, tailgate and front radiator grille along with the three-pin plug socket alloys and bright yellow trim panels scream ev version but if you want a more muted MINI look you can opt instead for regular paint and wheels options.

What about the interior? Inside the signature retro meets modern is evident and there is a new digital dashboard with a 5.5-inch colour screen behind the steering wheel. Road speed is shown at the centre in figures as well as information on the charge level of the battery. In addition, details of the available range, current drive power, outside temperature, time and mileage are displayed, with traffic sign detection reports and directions from the navigation system. As with all MINIs if feels reassuringly solid. Space is good in the front and while it is possible to carry some full-sized friends in the back they won’t thank you on a long journey.

Under the bonnet? Sharing much with BMW’s i3 the battery capacity of 32.6 kWh gives it a real-world driving range of around 270km depending on how you drive.

What about charging? You can charge at home using a home charger and it will take a little over 3 hours of if using a 3-pin plug home charging cable it takes around 12 hours. A 50kW DC fast-charging station will allow you gain around an 80 per cent charge in about 35 minutes

And on the road? Flip the yellow toggle switch starter and discover there is nothing dull about the Cooper SE. On the road it feels just like a MINI should and hugs the road. Steering is nicely weighted and there’s plenty of pep but be warned its so firm ripples in the road will vibrate up through your seat. Four driving modes are available Sport, Mid, Green and Green+ – the Green+ setting limits or deactivates some functions in order to save power and increase range.

Will it break the bank? Pricing for the new MINI Cooper SE starts from €27,765  which compares really well to other MINIs across the range. Plus to charge it on the ESB night rate on a home charger will cost less than €4.

What are my options? Three trim levels are available, Level 1, 2 and 3 and standard goodies include Connected Navigation including Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI), LED headlights and tail lights.

Why you will like it? The new Cooper SE may not have the longest electric range but with driver appeal, style and that legendary Mini handling it is a car which cannot fail to impress.

3 words to describe the MINI Cooper SE; Smart: Green: Perfectly formed


For more information check out or the Mini Ireland facebook page


Geraldine Herbert

3rd March 2020

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

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