We got behind the wheel of the new all electric Mini Cooper SE around Johannesburg last month and having driven a number of Mini’s in the past and understanding just how much fun they are to drive, the new Cooper SE was nothing less than superb. 

The most entertaining aspect of EV performance is the moment you plant your foot down, you engage the full torque offering of the electric engine, resulting in exhilarating acceleration … whereas in a conventional combustion engine, reaching those torque figures is a gradual process via rpm and gear changes. So from the get go the Mini Cooper SE is electrifyingly quick in comparison. 

A toggle of the mini Cooper SE’s driving mode selector allows you to choose between three driving modes. Sport mode will take you from zero to 60 km/h in 3.9 seconds and from zero to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds. The second milder driving mode does much the same without the haste and as the economy energy saving mode kicks in it improves the range substantially. 

In South African terms some would be concerned about the claimed 234 km range due to the distances we travel in and around the Reef, for instance. 

But I can’t see it being an issue so long as you use the Mini SE simply as a city run around, which is what it was designed for. A full charge from your wall plug will take you around four hours, whereas a fast charger will get you there in under an hour. 

One great part about the EV drive is the similarity to an automatic  gearbox, since there is no clutch, making it a real joy in traffic, with wind and road noise your only indication of speed, as the cabin is wonderfully silent. 

Another awesome perk of the Cooper SE is the regenerative braking, as you find yourself navigating traffic either accelerating or coasting (regenerative braking) for most of the day, This does wonders for the lifespan of the Mini’s brakes as you don’t need them – thanks to the SE’s regenerative braking.  

The new Mini Cooper SE is powered up by a 135 kW  electric unit with a punchy 270 Nm of torque available – which offers a top speed of 150km/h – which is more than enough in and around city limits.  

The space-saving, high-voltage, lithium-ion battery is powered by a high-voltage, 96-cell, 32.6 kWh (gross capacity) battery pack mounted under the floor, between the front seats and under the back seats. this mass distribution gives the SE a better centre of gravity, increasing stability and handling.  

At first glance the aerodynamic front grille and 17-inch alloy wheels are almost fully enclosed offering better drag performance. You will see adaptive Mini LED headlights in the front with Mini’s signature union jack LED lights to complement the rear. What makes the SE more noticeably different is the electric green paint accents that set it apart from the rest of the Mini stable.  

Inside you will find a similar centre console design and layout as what we have come to know from this iconic brand. The central command dash consists of a 5.5” colour screen that nestles neatly behind the steering wheel (where the rev counter normally sits) and complemented by a high-resolution Mini Connect touchscreen in the centre of the dash. It’s packed with innovative Mini Connected apps and services specifically orientated to electro-mobility to keep you firmly in control.  

I had a rant the other day about how we as the human race perceive ourselves as so technologically advanced, in this day and age, but still rely on fossil fuel (coal) to generate energy. Well at least in SA this is the case… This is my only gripe about EV technology these days, as it’s only truly effective and sustainable when powered by a renewable energy source. 

Unfortunately, over here, we are still living in the dark ages – literally – thanks to load-shedding. Which is no fault of EV advancements to be fair, especially after we are able to sample Mini’s new all-electric offering: the Mini Cooper SE.  

But for places such as Europe, where they are moving towards a greener more sustainable economy, this incredible green machine is without doubt the future of city mobility. Price starts at R642 000.