BMW was compelled to release early photos of the next-generation Mini due to the leaked spy pics. However, prior to this, we had the opportunity to test drive a camouflaged variant of the all-electric Cooper hatchback in SE trim.
Congratulations to Oliver Heilmer, the head designer, and his team for modernizing the brand icon in a drastically minimalistic yet contemporary manner.
Despite the fact that there are still six months until the official launch, we are able to provide more information regarding the advanced technology used to design and create this revolutionary shape.
Most importantly, we were able to gather initial driving impressions in a pre-production car on an entertaining handling course and over a one-hour mountain-road loop through Salzburg and Tyrol in Austria.
Despite the fact that the interior of the pre-production vehicle is still concealed by black curtains, the two significant advancements – a noticeably larger circular touchscreen situated in the center and a group of toggle switches beneath it – are completely exposed. The latter is comprised of five components: a button to activate the parking brake, a gear selector, a volume control knob, a toggle switch to turn on/off the vehicle, and a selector for choosing different driving experiences.
In the absence of a supervisor in the front seat, we switch from the standard Core option directly to Go-Kart mode. As its name suggests, Go-Kart mode accelerates the pace, decreases the amount of aid provided to the driver, and intensifies the responsiveness.
Are you seeking for additional thrills?
Turn off the dynamic stability control (DSC) and get ready for an intense experience of liftoff oversteer with the help of a technology called GMV, which stands for yaw moment enhancer.
The course for handling is not very long, but our hosts have placed a lot of cones in order to decrease our speed. Nevertheless, there are a few corners that are wide enough to honor Rauno Aaltonen, also known as “the Rally Professor,” who participated in races driving a Mini Cooper S.
Challenging grip levels are present due to the combination of heavy rain and low temperatures. One must master a tricky series of corners with sharp turns and elevation changes that may induce anxiety. The driver in the JCW lead car fearlessly takes on this challenge for the fun of it, demonstrating admirable skill.
Without any doubt, front-wheel drive poses a restriction when it comes to navigating the single 180-degree turn. The options available to the driver are limited to either excessive understeering or insufficient traction.
However, once the Mini gains the 243 pound-feet of instant torque available, it accelerates swiftly and smoothly, continuously picking up speed until a turn requires a change in direction, velocity, and balance. This experience is enjoyable, and the driver is only utilizing seventy percent of the car’s capabilities.
The electric motor is powered by a 53.0-kWh battery that requires recharging approximately every 200 miles in reality. There are no official EPA consumption ratings yet, but initial estimates from Europe indicate that the American version will have a much better rating than the SE model currently rated at 110 MPGe.
After completing 15 laps in a reckless manner, the computer system in the vehicle showed that there was only 29.5 kWh of battery charge remaining. However, this is not a concern as the upcoming SE model is expected to have a top speed of 125 mph compared to the restricted speed of 94 mph in the current Mini EV.
Acceleration from zero to 62 mph is a claimed 6.7 seconds, which suggests the new one won’t be substantially quicker than the last Cooper SE, a 2020 model, we tested. But there is more grunt to come, starting with the dual-motor 313-hp All4 (including 14 additional horses summoned by an overboost function), followed by a fully electric John Cooper Works edition.
At the same time, the Cooper SE continues to smoothly slide around every turn it encounters with the assistance of the GMV mentioned earlier, which is a desirable feature.
On public roads, Green driving mode will be the choice only for dedicated conservationists determined to better their personal consumption and range records.
The majority of us should be content with the features provided by the Core mode, which includes a versatile blend of immediate response, predictive driving with navigation assistance, and long-distance cruising that can be either calm or exhilarating.
Besides the three types of Driving Experiences, customers have the option to set the powertrain and steering to either Comfort or Sport mode. Moreover, the stability-control system has a range of settings from Sport to Sport Plus to DSC Off, depending on the desired level of excitement. Additionally, four distinct wheel sizes are available for selection, and customers have the possibility of choosing a more athletic suspension setup.
The newly designed seats are cozy and can be adjusted generously, however, individuals with longer legs may face difficulty in accessing the toggle bar which is placed low. Furthermore, the optional head-up display is quite small and has a limited attraction due to its pop-up type.
Despite the presence of buttons and switches on the three-spoke steering wheel, the main way to interact with the vehicle is through the larger circular touchscreen located in the center of the dashboard. This high-resolution display presents various menus, but important information such as vehicle speed, range, performance, state of charge, and cabin temperature are always clearly visible.
There are still many upcoming features such as updates through the air, integration of apps from third-party sources, extra experience modes, projections from your personal picture library on the dashboard, a diverse range of light and sound options, automatic warnings for radar traps, profiles for multiple users, customized environment options, digital personalization, and so much more.
Mini plans to introduce new trim levels, along with three mood settings (named Calm, Heritage, and Vivid) that incorporate 3-D technicolor orchestration. While this may seem like excessive marketing jargon, the distinctive driving experience of Mini cars will not be affected.
In the end, the Mini has always excelled in its dynamics, and this remains true for the new electric Cooper SE model. It is both nimble and stable, enticing and well-balanced, sophisticated but never dull. Turn off the immature sounds and experience the classic handling and stability that the Mini is famous for, which would have pleased Sir Alec, the Mini’s creator.