Mini Cooper Electric review

Category: Electric car

The Cooper Electric is a great choice if you're looking for a characterful electric car that's fun to drive

Mini Cooper Electric yellow front cornering
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow front cornering
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow rear cornering
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior dashboard
  • Mini Copper Electric yellow boot open
  • Mini Cooper Electric infotainment touchscreen
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow right driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow front driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow front left driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow rear left driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow front left static
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow right static
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow rear right static
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow front detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow alloy wheel detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow rear static
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior front seats
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior back seats
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow front cornering
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow rear cornering
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior dashboard
  • Mini Copper Electric yellow boot open
  • Mini Cooper Electric infotainment touchscreen
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow right driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow front driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow front left driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow rear left driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow front left static
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow right static
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow rear right static
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow front detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow alloy wheel detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric yellow rear static
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior front seats
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior back seats
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior detail
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Introduction

What Car? says...

The Mini Cooper Electric and Greggs' vegan sausage roll have more in common than you might imagine: they’re both guilt-free versions of a popular British classic. 

However, while the recipe of the sausage roll has remained unchanged since it first appeared on the high street, the battery-powered version of the Mini Cooper hatchback has just been reinvented for a new generation. 

It sits on all-new electric-car underpinnings, the result of a partnership between BMW (which owns Mini) and Chinese car maker Great Wall Motors. The original Mini Electric was essentially just a regular petrol Mini with the engine ripped out and an electric motor shoved in its place, and that meant it had some pretty big shortfalls.

Confusingly, there's still a petrol Mini hatch – but while that looks very similar to this electric model, it is in fact a completely unrelated car. You can read all about that in our Mini Cooper review 

Anyway, how does the Mini Cooper Electric stack up against the best electric cars including the equally retro Fiat 500 Electric, MG4 and Peugeot e-208? Read on to find out...

Overview

The Mini Cooper Electric is a great choice if you're looking for a small electric car that's fun to drive and packed with personality. Just be aware that there are cheaper and more practical alternatives – some of which have a longer range between charges. Go for the Cooper SE (rather than the cheaper Cooper E) for its better range and more generous roster of standard kit.

  • Nippy acceleleration
  • Grippy handling
  • Relatively slow predicted depreciation
  • Range of Cooper E variant isn't great
  • Not very practical
  • So-so charging speeds
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Go for the entry-level Mini Cooper E and you'll get a single 181bhp electric motor driving the front wheels. That gives surprisingly nippy acceleration, with 0-62mph taking 7.3 seconds, which is quick enough to leave most rivals, including the MG4 and Peugeot e-208, trailing.

The Cooper SE, meanwhile, has an even more powerful 215bhp motor that slingshots it from 0-62mph in just 6.7 seconds. That's faster than an Abarth 500e – a car its maker markets as a proper hot hatch. The SE surges forward when you put your foot down, and there's a variety of sound effects you can choose from to add to the experience. Or, if you're not in the mood, just switch them all off.

The problem with the entry-level Cooper E is that it has a relatively small 36.6kWh (usable capacity) battery and a disappointing range.

It can officially manage a maximum of 190 miles (it varies slightly depending on trim level), which is quite a bit less than the entry-level versions of the MG4 (218 miles), e-208 (225 miles) and Vauxhall Corsa Electric (246 miles). You won't actually get that far in the real world – expect 100-160 miles depending on the temperature and the type of road you're on.

That's why we think most buyers are better off stumping up for the Cooper SE. Yes, this pushes up the price significantly, but gets you a larger (49.2kWh) battery for an official range of up to 250 miles. This makes the Mini a far more usable everyday car, which you won't dread taking on longer journeys. Expect 140-215 miles in the real world. The slightly faster acceleration is merely a bonus.

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There's more good news when it comes to handling. The Cooper Electric feels light, agile and has plenty of grip, allowing you to fly round corners quicker than you would in an MG4 or Corsa Electric. It isn't quite the go-kart Mini would like you to believe it is, but you'll still have plenty of fun along a twisting country road.

The sharp, direct steering helps here, giving you the confidence to attack corners and trust the front wheels are going to go where you aim them. The steering works well around town, too, making the Mini easy to manoeuvre in tight situations.

So far, we've only driven the Cooper SE on the smooth roads around Barcelona, but that's enough to tell it has relatively stiff suspension compared with most rivals (that's what helps it stay upright through corners). It means you feel more of lump and bumps as they pass beneath the car, but it should be too uncomfortably jarring even on battered UK roads.

Assuming you've switched the sound effects off, the Cooper Electric is pretty quiet on the move, with only a small amount of road and wind noise noticeable at faster speeds. The brakes impress too, making it easy to judge how much pressure you need to put on the middle pedal to slow down smoothly. That isn't the case in a lot of rivals, including the e-208, which has a curiously spongy brake pedal.

Driving overview

Strengths Nippy acceleration; agile handling; reassuring brake pedal

Weaknesses Some rivals offers better ride comfort; you'll either love or loathe the fake soundtrack

Mini Cooper Electric yellow rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

If you're bored of bland interior designs with all the excitement and colour of a rainy day, you'll be pleasantly surprised when you get inside the Mini Cooper Electric.

There's knitted fabric across the dashboard and on the insides of the doors – available in a variety of colours depending on trim level – and toggle switches for the gear selector and for changing driving modes. Meanwhile, instead of a start button, there's a plastic knob shaped like a key.

The design is modern but takes inspiration from the 1959 original, with a giant (9.5in) circular display in the middle of the dashboard. In the original Mini that housed the speedo, but here it's a colour infotainment touchscreen.

If you buy the entry-level Cooper E (and don't pay extra for at least the Level 1 package upgrade) then you'll need to look across at this display to see how fast you're going and for sat-nav directions – in the same way you do in a Tesla or a Volvo EX30.

However, all other versions of the Cooper Electric have a head-up display on top of the dashboard behind the steering wheel. It's essentially a small piece of Perspex that rises out of the dash when you start the car, and puts key information, including your speed and navigation directions, right in front of your eyes.

The arrangement works really well, and is helped by the fact that the seat, steering wheel and pedals all line up neatly with one another – at least on the left-hand-drive models we've tested so far. The driver's seat is comfortable, although so far we've only tried a high-spec Level 3 model with adjustable lumbar support. Cheaper models don't get that adjustment.

The touchscreen has sharp graphics and is quick to respond when you press it. The layout is a bit confusing though, and some of the icons are small and fiddly to hit while you're driving. You do get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring as standard, but apps load in a fairly small rectangle shoehorned into the large round display.

It’s also a shame that you need to use the touchscreen to adjust the air-conditioning. There are small icons near the edge of the screen, which you need to use just to raise or lower the temperature. It would be much better if there were proper physical controls.

Interior overview

Strengths Cheery, eye-catching interior; good fundamental driving position

Weaknesses Lumbar adjustment available only as part of pricey Level 3 package; touchscreen layout puts style above functionality

Mini Cooper Electric interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Practicality has never been a strength of the Mini hatch and it still isn't. So, if you need to carry more than one tall passenger on a regular basis, you'd be better off looking at an MG4, a Volvo EX30 – or even a Peugeot e-208.

Unlike all of the above, and most other rivals, the Cooper Electric doesn't have rear doors. That makes getting into the back a bit of a challenge, because you need to move the front seat forwards and clamber through a tight gap.

Once you're sitting in the rear, you'll find a reasonable amount of head room (far more than in the previous-generation Mini Electric), but leg room is very tight and there are only two rear seats. Most rivals can squeeze three people in the back.

The Cooper Electric's boot – with 210 litres of space below the parcel shelf – is one of the smallest in the electric car class, too. For comparison, the MG4 can hold 363 litres, while the e-208 can hold 311 litres.

The rear seatback folds down in a 60/40 split, which is something the vast majority of rival electric cars also offer. When the back seats are folded down, a height adjustable boot floor (with some storage underneath for the charging cable) means there's no big step in the floor of the extended load bay.

More positively, the Mini Cooper Electric has an impressive amount of leg room in the front, mainly because the front seats slide a long way back on their runners. There’s also plenty of head room, so people of all heights should be able to get comfortable up front.

Practicality overview

Strengths Plenty of space in the front; height-adjustable boot floor is standard

Weaknesses Poor rear leg room; no five-door variant; small boot

Mini Copper Electric yellow boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The Mini Cooper Electric is more expensive to buy outright than an MG4 or Vauxhall Corsa Electric – but not by an outrageous amount. In fact, prices are broadly in line with the Peugeot e-208, a rival that's likely to depreciate far more quickly than the Mini.

That should help keep monthly payments respectable for those signing up to a PCP finance agreement and, like all fully electric cars, the Mini Cooper Electric is a seriously cheap option for company car drivers paying benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax.

The Cooper SE has a maximum charging speed of 95kW from a public CCS charging point. That means a 10-80% top-up will take just under half an hour in ideal conditions. The e-208, MG4 and Corsa Electric can all charge slightly faster, but not by enough shave a significant amount of time off your pitstops.

You'll be waiting about 30 minutes for a 10-80% charge in the Cooper E too – but remember it has a smaller battery, so you'll be adding fewer miles during that time due to its maximum charging rate of 75kW. That's another reason to stump up extra for the SE.

Either way, there are three basic trim levels to choose from: Classic, Exclusive and Sport. Classic is the entry-level trim and offers relatively little in the way of personalisation options. Going for Exclusive or Sport changes that, giving you a bigger paint colour palette, bigger wheels and some more eye-catching interior trim.

After that, you need to decide how much kit you want. All versions of the Cooper Electric come with LED headlights, a heated steering wheel, a reversing camera and a front central armrest as standard. However, if you're buying the Cooper E, we'd recommend upgrading to the Level 1 package.

The Level 1 package comes as standard on the Cooper SE, and brings customisable front and rear light signatures, keyless entry, power-folding door mirrors, wireless phone-charging, heated front seats and the head-up display.

If that's not enough, there are Level 2 and Level 3 packs too. They add more creature comforts but push the Mini's price well into the territory of the Volvo EX30, a bigger electric car with a longer range.

Mini finished in a solid third place (out of 32 brands) in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey and was beaten by Lexus and Toyota. However, the Mini Cooper Electric was too new to feature in the survey.

The Cooper Electric has yet to be tested by the safety experts at Euro NCAP. However, it does come with lane-keeping assistance and blind-spot monitoring as standard. Disappointingly, adaptive cruise control is available only as part of the Level 3 equipment package, which pushes up the price significantly.

Costs overview

Strengths Cooper SE well equipped as standard; should hold its value better than rivals

Weaknesses Not the cheapest small electric car; rivals can charge quicker; you'll want to add options if buying the entry-level Cooper E


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Mini Cooper Electric infotainment touchscreen

FAQs

  • That depends which version you go for. The Cooper E can officially do up to 190 miles on a charge, while the Cooper SE (which has a bigger battery) can do 250 miles. You won't get that far in the real world, though.

  • The Mini Cooper Electric is priced above the MG4 EV and Vauxhall Corsa Electric so it costs about the same as an equivalent Peugeot e-208. For the latest prices, see our Mini Cooper Electric deals.

  • We'll be carrying out our on 0-60mph tests on the Mini Cooper Electric in the coming months, but Mini says 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds for the Cooper E, and 6.7 seconds for the more powerful SE.

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £1,588
Target Price from £22,704
Save up to £1,588
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From £26,967
RRP price range £23,150 - £42,500
Number of trims (see all)12
Number of engines (see all)4
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, electric
MPG range across all versions 45.6 - 47.9
Available doors options 3
Warranty 3 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £60 / £2,254
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £120 / £4,509
Available colours