Mini Cooper Electric review

Category: Electric car

The Mini Cooper Electric is fun to drive and characterful but there are cheaper electric cars

Mini Cooper Electric front right driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric front right driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric rear cornering
  • Mini Cooper Electric dashboard
  • Mini Cooper Electric boot open
  • Mini Cooper Electric steering wheel
  • Mini Cooper Electric front right driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric front driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric front cornering
  • Mini Cooper Electric rear driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric rear right driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric front right static
  • Mini Cooper Electric right static
  • Mini Cooper Electric rear left static
  • Mini Cooper Electric headlights
  • Mini Cooper Electric alloy wheel
  • Mini Cooper Electric charging socket
  • Mini Cooper Electric rear badge
  • Mini Cooper Electric rear lights
  • Mini Cooper Electric front seats
  • Mini Cooper Electric back seats
  • Mini Cooper Electric infotainment touchscreen
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior controls
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric front seat detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric front right driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric rear cornering
  • Mini Cooper Electric dashboard
  • Mini Cooper Electric boot open
  • Mini Cooper Electric steering wheel
  • Mini Cooper Electric front right driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric front driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric front cornering
  • Mini Cooper Electric rear driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric rear right driving
  • Mini Cooper Electric front right static
  • Mini Cooper Electric right static
  • Mini Cooper Electric rear left static
  • Mini Cooper Electric headlights
  • Mini Cooper Electric alloy wheel
  • Mini Cooper Electric charging socket
  • Mini Cooper Electric rear badge
  • Mini Cooper Electric rear lights
  • Mini Cooper Electric front seats
  • Mini Cooper Electric back seats
  • Mini Cooper Electric infotainment touchscreen
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior controls
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric interior detail
  • Mini Cooper Electric front seat 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 a petrol Mini with the engine ripped out and an electric motor shoved in its place. That meant it had some pretty big shortfalls.

Confusingly, there's still a petrol Mini hatch, which looks very similar to the new Cooper Electric but is in fact a completely unrelated car. You can read all about that in our Mini Cooper review.

So how does the Mini Cooper Electric stack up against the best electric cars – including the equally retro Fiat 500 ElectricMG4 EV 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 acceleration
  • 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

Strengths

  • +Nippy acceleration
  • +Agile handling
  • +Reassuring brake pedal

Weaknesses

  • -Choppy ride
  • -You'll either love or loathe the fake soundtrack

Go for the entry-level Cooper E and you'll get a single 181bhp electric motor driving the front wheels. That gives surprisingly nippy acceleration (0-62mph in 7.3sec) – enough to leave most rivals, including the MG4 and Peugeot e-208, trailing way behind.

The Cooper SE 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 hatchback. The SE surges forwards when you put your foot down, and both versions of the Cooper Electric play sound effects as you accelerate (if you're not in the mood, you can switch them 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 up to 190 miles depending on the trim level, which is quite a bit less than the entry-level MG4 (218 miles), e-208 (225 miles) and Vauxhall Corsa Electric (246 miles). In real-world driving, we'd expect the Cooper E to manage 100-160 miles, depending on the weather and the type of roads you're on.

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

Mini COOPER image
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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 corner more quickly than you would in an MG4 or Corsa Electric. It's not 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 gives 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.

It does have stiffer suspension than many other small electric cars, so the Peugeot e-208 is a more comfortable alternative. The Cooper Electric isn't as firm as an equivalent petrol Mini Cooper, though; that car fidgets around more on the motorway and is more easily knocked off line by mid-corner bumps.

Assuming you've switched the sound effects off, the Cooper Electric is respectably hushed on the move, although on the motorway you do hear a drone from the tyres as they slap away at the surface of the road.

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.

Mini Cooper Electric rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Cheery, eye-catching interior
  • +Good fundamental driving position

Weaknesses

  • -Most versions lack lumbar adjustment
  • -Touchscreen puts style above functionality

If you're bored of bland interior designs with all the excitement and colour of a rainy day in Reading, 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 the trim level – and toggle switches for the gears and 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 circular 9.4in 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 screen to check your speed and for sat-nav directions – in the same way you would in a Tesla Model 3 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. This is essentially a piece of clear plastic 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 – something that can’t be said of the larger Mini Countryman. The driver's seat is comfortable and holds you in place during cornering. There's a reasonable amount of lumbar support, but it's only adjustable on cars with the expensive Level 3 pack.

But back to the touchscreen, which features 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 get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring as standard, but these apps load as 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 have to tap just to raise or lower the temperature. It would be much better if there were proper physical controls.

Mini Cooper Electric dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Plenty of space in the front
  • +Surprisingly decent rear head room
  • +Height-adjustable boot floor is standard

Weaknesses

  • -Poor rear leg room
  • -No five-door variant
  • -Small boot

Practicality is not traditionally a Mini strength and the Mini Cooper Electric is no exception. If you need to carry more than one tall passenger on a regular basis, you're better off looking at the MG4 and 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.

More positively, the 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 in the front.

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 of luggage, while even the e-208 can carry 311 litres.

The rear seatback can be folded down in a 60/40 split, which is a feature most rival small cars also offer. When folded down, the 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.

Mini Cooper Electric boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Cooper SE is well equipped as standard
  • +Should hold its value better than many rivals

Weaknesses

  • -Not the cheapest small electric car
  • -Rivals can charge more quickly
  • -Entry-level car is not that well equipped

The Mini Cooper Electric is more expensive to buy outright than an MG4 or Vauxhall Corsa Electric although 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.

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 around half an hour in ideal conditions. The MG4, e-208 and Corsa Electric can all charge slightly faster, but not by enough to shave a significant amount of time off your pitstops.

You'll be waiting a similar amount of time for a 10-80% charge in the Cooper E – but remember it has a smaller battery, so you'll be adding fewer miles during that time due to its maximum charging rate of 70kW. 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 wider 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, cruise control and automatic climate control.

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 we mentioned earlier.

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 an impressive third place (out of 32 brands) in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey with only Lexus and Toyota above it. However, this Cooper Electric was too new to be included.

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


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Mini Cooper Electric steering wheel

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 and Vauxhall Corsa Electric, so it costs about the same as an equivalent Peugeot e-208. For the latest prices see our new Mini deals page.

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

At a glance
New car deals
Save up to £2,112
Target Price from £22,704
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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 44.8 - 47.9
Available doors options 3
Warranty 3 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £60 / £2,312
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £120 / £4,624
Available colours