Mini’s 2023 Cooper SE electrical car is getting into its fourth mannequin yr, so it doesn’t boast the very newest expertise. Nonetheless, with its 32.6-kilowatt-hour battery pack, it does give us a have a look at the more and more interesting potential of a small-battery EV.
The continued evolution of battery-electric automobiles has seen the market go from the short-range 24 kWh Nissan Leaf to the maximum-capacity 200-kWh GMC Hummer EV. My latest street journey within the Hummer EV underscored that, whereas its massive battery does allow some long-distance driving, such a big pack is totally depending on entry to quick charging 350 kW charging stations as a result of the battery takes too lengthy to cost in any other case.
Perhaps a smaller battery, in a lighter car, could be a greater mixture. The Mini SE offers some perception into this query, despite the fact that it proves to wish some updates to be actually sensible.
The Mini Cooper SE is a beautiful choice, because of its spritely driving dynamics. The battery pack is heavy sufficient to easy the journey in comparison with the uneven combustion Mini, however not so heavy as to make the automotive ponderous or to make it a danger to different street customers, as is the priority with the almost 9,000 lb. Hummer EV.
Whereas the Hummer has a rated driving vary of 350 miles, the EPA says that the Mini SE is nice for simply 114 miles. Hassle is, because the disclaimer says, “your mileage could differ.” The truth is, your mileage will differ. On a day with the temperature within the 30s, the Mini predicted that it will go 90 miles on a full cost. After I recharged after 77 miles, the automotive stated it may nonetheless go one other 18 miles, so my 70-mph freeway run within the chilly produced barely higher vary than predicted.
Nonetheless, an emergency run for apple cider doughnuts at The Apple Home, which is 49 miles away, proved too far for a roundtrip pickup with out stopping to cost at a Walmart Electrify America station.
The Mini prices at on 50 kilowatts, which in all probability appears affordable contemplating the small measurement of its battery pack. Nonetheless, for a automotive that should cost so often, it is necessary that drivers can get out and in of the cost station shortly. Because it occurred, I added 12.36 kWh of vitality to the battery in 17 minutes, which boosted the pack from 20 p.c to 61 p.c. The price was $5.16.
On a hotter spring day, I beforehand added 17 kWh to a different Mini SE in 22 minutes, charging from 28 p.c to 80 p.c. When charging lithium-ion batteries greater than 80 p.c, charging slows dramatically to guard the battery from long-term injury, so the quickest charging examples prime out at that stage.
The flexibility to recharge the Mini’s pack at 150 kW could be an actual profit to drivers. That pack can be slightly too small for true practicality. For such a automotive, it ought to keep small, mild, and reasonably priced, so it doesn’t change the automotive’s dynamics and affordability. However I really feel that 100 miles shouldn’t be one thing that an EV can do, it must be a distance it will do, beneath all circumstances. So perhaps a ten p.c bump to battery capability on the automotive’s subsequent refresh on account of the continual enchancment of battery expertise because the Mini SE was introduced in 2019 would do the job.
In that case, I’d have been in a position to make my doughnut run with out stopping. And after I did cease to cost the automotive, I may very well be assured that the 150-kW charger may enhance it from 20 p.c to 80 p.c in lower than quarter-hour.
The onboard charger for Degree 2 AC connections similar to my residence ChargePoint charger works at 7.4 kW, so residence charging takes solely about 4 hours. However as with the DC quick charger, a higher-powered onboard charger would make public Degree 2 cost stations a extra helpful choice, as you might get a significant enhance whereas procuring, for instance. This may additionally contribute to creating the automotive’s small battery pack much less of a handicap in each day use.
The Mini SE is nice to drive. Its 181-horsepower electrical motor launches the automotive to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds, so it’s fast with out having the surplus energy of these automobiles that star in YouTube movies making rocket launches in 3.0 seconds.
The regenerative braking is nicely tuned within the Mini, making it straightforward to cease and begin the automotive easily utilizing solely the accelerator pedal. There’s no want to maneuver the shifter to a selected place or to allow this mode by urgent a button as a result of it’s the automotive’s default mode.
The warmth pump local weather management system and the heated seats hold the cabin heat, however the absence of the accessible heated steering wheel was an oversight not many cold-weather clients will forgive in 2023. Simply make it normal tools.
The audio system bears the title Hardon-Kardon, however its sound doesn’t mirror that esteemed firm’s repute. Within the impartial settings, I discovered the stereo boomy, however by shifting the fader to emphasise the rear audio system and including a contact of bass, the sound grew to become respectable. The infotainment system helps Apple CarPlay, however thus far no Android Auto for the folks with these telephones.
As with most BMW-derived automobiles, the Mini’s mixture contact display and rotary enter knob forces the consumer via infinite layers of menus that make seemingly each interplay frustratingly tedious. Not less than there’s a distinguished quantity knob on the dashboard so that you don’t have to make use of the unintuitive steering wheel controls which have left-right arrows for quantity management and up-down arrows for tuning that work reverse the anticipated route (urgent the up arrow scrolls down the channel listing).
Base worth for the Mini SE has climbed to $33,900 from its authentic sub-$30,000 tag, and the as-tested worth with the $950 driver help bundle of parking help and head-up show, plus the $850 vacation spot cost brings the whole to $35,700.
As a enjoyable, comfy, and sensible EV, the Mini Cooper SE may actually profit from incremental upgrades to its battery capability and charging velocity to make a car with a real 100-mile vary straightforward to reside with.