By Malusi Msomi
The automotive landscape is forever changing and manufacturers have no option but to adjust to that. The current topic is moving towards a fully electric future as we’ve seen many manufacturers pledging their allegiance to battery-powered cars. The MINI Cooper SE is currently the most affordable EV in South Africa and has recently received a facelift.
A fresh face and premium looking interior
With this facelift MINI has gone ahead and added new LED headlights as standard, Union Jack design rear taillights as standard, a newly styled grille, redesigned front and rear bumpers, and new black cladding for the wheel arches. Our test unit was finished in a rather classy Rooftop Grey Metallic paint job and sporting 17-inch MINI Electric Power Spoke 2-tone wheels which are exclusive to the SE model. The Mini Cooper SE is easily distinguishable by its badges which are finished in yellowand for the keen-eyed, a sealed grille to aid with aerodynamics.
Inside, MINI has incorporated new-designed interior surfaces and air outlets, a central instrument cluster with a new Piano Black high-gloss surround, an 8.8-inch display and modern graphics display as standard. The steering wheel controls and infotainment buttons now have a classier look. MINI has kept some of the older dials and knobs. We appreciate the quirkiness where toggling through some buttons and switches feels more like an event rather than a task.
In terms of space, it’s not the most practical. The cloth-leather combination front seats look good but are rather tight (depending on your size). Rear leg-room is limited and boot space comes in at a measly 211 litres but can be expanded thanks to 50/50-split rear seats. The 8.8-inch infotainment system supports USB/Bluetooth connectivity and Apple CarPlay.
What’s it like to drive and what about charging
Power comes from a tiny 32.6 kWh battery pack that produces 135kW/270Nm which is good for a 0-100 km/h sprint in 7.3 seconds. The Cooper will also top out at 150 km/h. MINI claims a range of up to 215 km but in the real world, you’re looking at around 150 km. Unlike its petrol-powered siblings, it always has a sense of urgency thanks to its electric motor producing instant torque. Even though it’s electric, it still has that classic MINI go-kart feel.
If you’re charging at home with a house plug, it’ll take around 10 hours. With fast charging around 3 and a half hours. Then there’s Rapid charging where you can go from 0-80% in under 40 minutes. It can also charge thanks to regenerative braking.
With around a real-life range of 150km, the Mini SE is an ideal car for people who live in the city and do everything within a 50km radius. Those who live closer to work and amenities will find extra reward in charging far fewer times than would be the case if they covered longer distances. Until cheaper EVs come into the country, the MINI Cooper SE is the most affordable right. With a starting price of R681,000 the MINI does feel premium and gives quite a rewarding drive.
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