Advertisement
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
Advertisement feature
WELCOME TO HYUNDAI’S HAPPINESS MACHINE
View the latest news
Car Review

Mini Cooper Electric review

£29,945 - £42,445
810
Published: 16 May 2024
Advertisement
The Mini Cooper is a great little car, overflowing with personality. This one just happens to be electric

Good stuff

A hoot to drive, futuristic interior, decent efficiency

Bad stuff

Tech is a bit OTT, limited recharging speed, tiny boot

Overview

What is it?

Twenty-plus years since BMW began its New Mini adventure, the car receives its most significant reboot. We’ve already driven the new Countryman - in electric and JCW guise - as its ballooning dimensions see it nudge into full-size SUV territory. That gives the model range enough bandwidth to permit the newly announced Aceman compact crossover, but the Cooper remains the heartland car… with an accelerated push to electric.

Remember, the ZEV mandate requires that 22 per cent of all cars sold in the UK in 2024 must be electric, rising to 28 per cent in 2025, and 80 per cent by 2030. Last year, 14 per cent of Minis sold here were electric.

Advertisement - Page continues below

Two versions of the Cooper Electric will be available: the 182bhp Cooper E (£30,000) and the 215bhp SE (£34,500), both fitted with a single motor on the front axle and a 54.2kWh battery. Fear not, old-schoolers, for there are also two ICE Mini Coopers: the 153bhp C (£23,135) and the 201bhp S (£27,535).

Phew. Tell me more.

The transition to full electrification means that the 2024 user experience places as much emphasis on the interior and connectivity as it does on handling and the driver entertainment that’s always been a core Mini attribute. The new Cooper seeks to inject tangible character into every nook and cranny while the electrons go about their silent, seamless, and dare we say it, slightly tyrannical business.

Resistance is futile, but you can’t help feeling nostalgic, so the new Cooper scratches the itch in some inventive ways while still being fully future-focused. Few cars were as analogue as the original Issigonis-designed Mini, or as ingeniously packaged. Its immense character was in inverse proportion to its diminutive size, but its creator, Sir Alec Issigonis, was ruthless when it came to weight saving.

Advertisement - Page continues below

BEV porkiness is such an issue that soon our multi-storey car parks will be wilting under the extra pressure. At 1,600kg, the new Mini Cooper Electric is kinda chunky, but it’s actually shorter than the outgoing car, with minimal front and rear overhangs. It’s 3.8m long overall.

Looks good on the outside, too.

Design director Oliver Heilmer and his team have instigated a clever evolution of the Mini’s visual language, while preserving its wheel-at-each-corner stance™. The body, window area and floating roof are distinct yet coherent elements (see also that other British ‘icon’, the Range Rover), and the nose receives a new octagonal treatment. The circular headlamps now come with three different light signatures, and the rear lights’ jingoistic Union Jack motif can be switched out. The whole lot does a welcome and farewell fandango when the car senses the key (or smartphone) as you approach. As we say, they’re trying very hard here.

Note also the flush door handles, which aid aero efficiency, which enhances range. Reducing visual noise is a contemporary design trend, but the lack of wheelarch cladding or exterior brightwork is also a sustainability play. Why manufacture vanity shiny bits? Indeed, the number of parts in the door panels has fallen from 30 to six.

TG.com’s Cooper Electric SE test car certainly looks pretty minimal with its gloss black front end, red roof and taut surfacing. The rear end is particularly stocky, with hints of BMW M2 and even iX in the mix. Note also that the Cooper’s design varies depending on the trim level and three are available: Classic, Exclusive and Sport. 

Sustainable, then.

The BMW Group is committed to the circular economy, but the new Cooper Electric is made in a factory in Zhangjiagang in China. For now, Mini’s Oxford plant is due to start production in 2026. That’ll help circumvent tariffs and reduce the vast carbon footprint left by a container ship.

The car is the product of a joint venture between BMW and Great Wall Motor called Spotlight Automotive, and sits on a new platform. Yes, it’s related to GWM’s (funky) Ora 03, but BMW insists almost all of it is bespoke here. Imagine polluting that priceless DNA.

What's the verdict?

The Cooper Electric is firm-riding, but has the handling smarts and eager reactions to make this a trade-off worth tolerating

Fundamentally, this is a great little car, overflowing with personality. This one just happens to be electric. The Cooper Electric is firm-riding, as so many EVs are, but has the handling smarts and eager reactions to make this a trade-off worth tolerating. Its interior is a fabulous place to spend time, nicely made, cleverly conceived, and tech-savvy without going too far.

The Rivals

Find another car review

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

subscribe