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Frankfurt show: Mini EV hatch coming to Australia

Power up: The Cooper SE is motivated by a 135kW/270Nm electric motor that is mounted on its front axle, enabling it to sprint from standstill to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds.

Mini confirms mid-2020 launch for first series-production EV: the Cooper SE hatch

12 Sep 2019

MINI has confirmed that its first series-production electric vehicle, the Cooper SE hatch, is scheduled for a mid-2020 release in Australia following its first public outing at the Frankfurt motor show this week.


Details of the BMW-owned British brand’s EV were officially released two months ago, but BMW Group Australia has waited until its international show presentation to confirm that it will come here.


Pricing and local specification remain under wraps, but expect the Oxford-built premium compact three-door hatch to start from around $50,000 plus on-road costs – at the top end of the otherwise five-door hatch range, but perhaps a pinch under the flagship John Cooper Works which is set at $53,350 with an automatic transmission.


This will be the second electrified model from Mini, joining the Countryman S E All4 plug-in hybrid SUV that was launched in April, priced from $57,200.


“The Mini Cooper SE Hatch marks a new era for our brand in providing our customers with a progressive mobility solution wrapped in a package that is unmistakeably Mini in its look, feel and the way it drives,” said Mini Australia general manager Brett Waudby.


“We look forward to introducing this exciting and game-changing member of the Mini family to the Australian market next year.”   


A pilot program with limited production of 500 units was run from 2008 to 2011 in the United States, where the ‘Mini E’ was leased to private and corporate customers.


It used a 150kW/220Nm electric motor, driving the front wheels and enabling 0-100km/h acceleration of 8.5 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 152km/h. The 35kWh lithium-ion battery handed it a driving range of about 240km.


A decade on, the new mass-market Cooper SE produces a slightly less powerful but gutsier 135kW/270Nm, similarly driving through the front wheels and reaching 100km/h in 7.3s. Mini also highlights that it can reach 60km/h from standstill in 3.9s, while top speed is limited to 150km/h.


The SE uses a 32.6kWh Li-ion battery which offers a driving range of 235-270km when tested on the new WLTP standard.


Recharging times from full depletion to 80 per cent capacity can be as quick as 35 minutes using a 50kW fast-charging device, blowing out to three-and-a-half hours with an 11kW socket.


The manufacturer claims that none of the “go-kart feeling” that serves as a core tenet of the Mini brand has been lost, with the battery packaged into the floor of the vehicle and offering its engineers the ability to strike a unique dynamic package without a combustion engine under the bonnet.


The centre of gravity is 30mm lower in the EV than the regular hatchback, which Mini says makes it “super-easy to control, even when cornering at high speed”.


However, to ensure adequate protection of the battery, the SE rides 18mm higher than its ICE counterparts, while kerb weight is also up 145kg, to 1365kg.


All this has necessitated a retune of the suspension, which features single-joint spring struts up front and a multi-link configuration at the rear, while the dynamic stability control system has also been reworked to weed out wheelspin from the instant torque provided by the electric motor.


Four selectable driving modes are included – Sport, Mid, Green and Green+, the latter helping to maximise range by disabling or limiting ancillary functions such as air-conditioning and seat heating.


Importantly, the switch to electric propulsion has meant there is no loss of cargo capacity, the SE matching other three-door hatch variants with 211 litres with the rear seat portions upright, expanding to 731L with them folded.


From the outside, the Cooper SE is easily distinguished by its closed front grille, rear-right fender charging port with embossed Mini electric logo, yellow-accented highlights and, as an option in overseas markets, aerodynamically optimised 17-inch wheels.


Standard equipment in international markets includes LED headlights, dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning, a 5.5-inch digital instrumentation screen, satellite navigation and an electric park brake.

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