The 2024 MINI Cooper SE is the latest addition to the electric stable of the British marquee. But turning a MINI into an electric model that maintains the classic Cooper driving experience posed a significant challenge. MINI first tackled this task in 2019, but its first all-electric attempt was, let’s say, a bit of a mixed bag. It had the classic MINI charm and quick acceleration, but the range was a letdown. Now, five years later, they’re back with a second try, and I flew to Spain to find out if this electric hot hatch offers the thrilling go-kart-like performance and feeling that MINIs are known for.

Sitges is a coastal town in Spain’s Catalonia region, southwest of Barcelona, backed by the mountainous Parc Natural del Garraf. It’s known for not only its Mediterranean beaches but also by its windy and fun roads. So, MINI invited me over push this electric hatch to its limits, or at least close to them.

The MINImalistic Design Language

First up, let’s talk about styling of the 2024 MINI Cooper SE. The brand has always been about that iconic look, and with this new generation, they’ve stuck to their roots. The big circular headlights are here to stay, and although there’s a fresh octagonal grill, you might need to double-take to distinguish it from its predecessor. The daytime running lights  come with three signature lights, with welcome and goodbye animation. But there are some noticeable tweaks.

The wheel arch trim? Gone. Flush door handles and no chrome finish—inside or out. They call it ‘Charismatic Simplicity’. And the triangular tail lights? They definitely set it apart at the rear from the previous generation Coopers. The rear-end is quite upright with a more tapered appearance, and the windshield angle is notably steep—primarily for aerodynamics and to meet safety regulations. The taillights are also new offering the ability to customize the inner graphics from the Operating System 9.

Overall, compared to its predecessors, these changes might seem modest, but they refine what we’ve always loved about MINI’s charm.

2024 MINI Cooper SE

  • More range than before
  • A lot more powerful
  • Interior space is better than expected
  • Charging rate could be higher
  • The design is a bit bland
  • Some materials inside don't scream premium

Design Features I Wish The 2024 MINI Cooper SE Had Retained

There are a couple of annoyances though. In contrast to the F66 Cooper (the ICE version), the J01 2024 MINI Cooper electric forgoes the clamshell bonnet and the hood scoop. So because of that, you’re getting this hood shutline which doesn’t scream premium. Additionally, the removal of the side scuttles gives the Cooper SE a cleaner and more aerodynamic silhouette, appealing to those who favor such design enhancements. However, some traditional enthusiasts might miss the vented hood and side scuttles, which, despite being purely aesthetic, added a cool factor to the vehicle.

Major Interior Changes

Inside, the new 2024 MINI Cooper SE features a cockpit brimming with character, a compliment I’m sure the MINI design team will appreciate. During a discussion at the press launch event with Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design, we discovered that “Charismatic Simplicity” is the current guiding principle in Munich. And the MINI Cooper electric can be quite charismatic inside. It features a large circular 9.4-inch OLED display, which looks fantastic and is ergonomically easy to operate. It’s also extremely responsive and snappy compared to the Operating System 9 we tested in the MINI Countryman JCW and SE. The display is a nod to the classic central speedometer, while toggle switches add a retro touch.

The OLED also replaces the traditional driver’s instrument cluster. This screen now manages instrumentation, navigation mapping, trip computer data, and houses most of the car’s secondary controls. Is it ideal to move all that essential information to the central display? Probably not, as it may increase driver distraction. Likely not because the driver’s distraction can be an issue. Luckily MINI does offer their traditional head-up display. I’m preaching to the choir by now, but I truly believe the system would be even more user-friendly with a physical controller.

Next, the new MINI Cooper SE features all-vegan upholstery, complemented by knitted fabric on the dashboard and door panels. For those seeking detailed customization, the strap that functions as a spoke on the steering wheel and the dashboard strap can be personalized with various color and stitching options. Some might call these details statements of style and choice.

On the downside, despite its playful design, some of the interior plastics are less appealing, especially for a car in the premium segment. The previous generation MINI Cooper SE had a more luxurious feel, likely due to the use of leather and trims that no longer align with MINI’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

Practicality and Space

The 2024 MINI Cooper Electric boasts substantial legroom in the front, thanks primarily to the dedicated electric platform which allowed MINI designers to push forward the front-seating position. The flat roof and absence of a retractable sunroof allow for more headroom, which is particularly important for someone like me, who stands 1.9 m tall (6’3″). The armrest is a bit smaller in the Cooper electric than in the F66 gasoline model—due to the slightly wider front seats. Other visual changes compared to the F66 Cooper include the positioning of the door handle, sitting a bit lower on the J01 and the presence of the audio speaker on the road, rather on the A-pillar.

We haven’t mentioned dimensions so far, but let’s put things in perspective before talking about rear bench and cargo space. The J01 MINI Cooper SE is 8 mm longer, 30 mm wider and nearly 30 mm taller than F56 Cooper SE. Compared to the F66 Cooper (gasoline, the electric variant gains 1.2 centimeters in the second row. But even with that additional length, things are tight in there. I adjusted the seat to my driving position and my knees were rubbing against the back of the seat. Luckily, headroom was a bit more generous, a mere 3-4 centimeters.

The cargo space remains consistent across the Cooper family, offering 210 liters with the rear seats up and approximately 800 liters when folded. So overall, the trunk space remains limited, offering only minimal city-car-like capacity. If you’re looking for a great road trip companion, then the Aceman or Countryman might get the job done.

Power, Range and Charging

I took the longest path to the juicy bits, so let’s dive right in. The new 2024 MINI Cooper SE sends the power to the front wheels via an electric motor generating 218 horsepower and 300 Nm. That’s enough to propel the car from 0-60mph in 6.7 seconds. If money is an issue, you can get the 184 horsepower Cooper E which has a 0-60 mph time of 7.3 seconds. The top Cooper electric uses a 54.2 kWh battery pack for a range of up to 250 miles (402 km) on WLTP. The lesser model gets away with a fairly small battery pack 40.3 kWh and a range of 190 miles.

Is the range exceptional? Not exactly, but it seems that the Cooper Electric is likely to be a secondary vehicle for most owners. According to a study commissioned by MINI, their customers expect to drive about 40 miles daily. What does bother me more though is the charging capacity: 75 kW for the base Cooper E and 95 kW for the SE. Competitors offer higher charging speeds, which can be significantly more convenient for those without access to a home charger. Nonetheless, MINI estimates a charging time of about 30 minutes to go from 10% to 80% battery.

Driving and Performance

The testing route through the hills surrounding Sitges really puts the 2024 MINI Cooper SE’s capabilities to the test, with tight bends that highlight its agility and grip. In “Go-Kart” mode, the Cooper SE feels sportiest, thanks to a software tuneup of its suspension, steering, and braking, which tightens the car’s response and adds a distinct, aggressive electric sound, enhancing the driving experience. Despite not being a true go-kart, it maintains the hot hatch character, tackling corners with confidence and minimal body roll.

The 2024 MINI Cooper Electric offers engaging and fun driving dynamics, retaining the classic MINI feel while adapting to electric vehicle technology. It’s lower than previous SE models but maintains a higher seating position, balancing visibility with a sporty feel. The car’s agile handling is particularly evident in urban settings, where its small size and sharp, direct steering make it easy to maneuver and slot into traffic gaps.

Well-Balanced Chassis

On the road, the new MINI feels livelier than ever, with a well-balanced chassis that invites spirited driving. The steering is precise but not overly firm, offering a good mix of sporty feedback and everyday comfort. While the car weighs nearly 1,600 kg, it hides its weight well, maintaining good roll resistance and mechanical grip that you can lean on fairly hard. This agility allows the Cooper SE to maintain its poise in corners, giving you the confidence to push the car a bit harder.

However, the ride can be firm, and there’s noticeable movement over uneven surfaces, a characteristic that could become tiresome on longer journeys. There is also a bit of torque steer when you floor the pedal and it can feel weird if you don’t expect it. Luckily, the front-end bites immediately and you retain control of the front axle. Despite these challenges, the MINI engineers have managed to maintain a good level of control, with a nice progression of the power delivery.

The brakes are adequate for the car of this size and weight, and they bite quite hard when needed. As enthusiasts of one-pedal electric driving, I tested the new MINI Cooper SE in its highest regenerative braking B mode, which also enhances efficiency. There were some smooth transitions from regenerative to friction braking without any unusual behaviors.

MINI has also done a great job with the cabin insulation. Turn off the electric effects and the 2024 MINI Cooper SE offers a notably quiet ride, with only minimal road and wind noise becoming apparent at higher speeds.

Regarding sounds and effects, my current favorite is the “Timeless Experience.” Why, you might ask? It integrates a slice of Mini’s racing heritage into the car. Renzo Vitale, the BMW Group musician and composer, recorded sounds from the 1960 Mini Morris and digitized them for the new Cooper Electric. What’s more, the “Timeless” sound effects take on a more futuristic tone as you accelerate.

And finally, the new MINI Cooper is full of personality. In addition to the DJ turntable Easter egg, there’s another playful feature in the Green Experience. When you drive efficiently, an animated hummingbird flaps its wings on the display. If you start to push the car harder, the hummingbird disappears, replaced by a graphic of a large cat sprinting.

Very cheeky, MINI, very cheeky!

Comparison to F56 Cooper SE

Undoubtedly, the J01 Cooper Electric has a slightly heavier feel and drive compared to the F56, primarily due to the 160 kilograms (352 lbs) weight difference. Despite this model boasting about 30 more horsepower, it’s challenging to completely conceal the added weight. However, I believe this trade-off is justified, especially since the F56’s 140-mile (225 km) range often fell short for many users. Personally, I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of the driving dynamics for a nearly 80 percent increase in range.

P.S. I do have a soft spot for the faux hood scoops and side scuttles on the F56.

Should I Buy The 2025 MINI Cooper SE?

Overall, the MINI Cooper SE combines the essence of the classic MINI with modern electric efficiency, delivering a driving experience that, while adapted for an electric future, does not stray far from the agility and fun of its petrol-powered predecessors. But is it a pure MINI Cooper? Probably not, but that’s the struggle of putting the MINI’s DNA and heritage in electric vehicles. Yet, it’s a good attempt and lots of fun!

If you’re in the market for a fun daily driver and happen to live in Europe, then the new Cooper SE stands out as a strong candidate in the burgeoning segment of premium sub-compact EVs. However, if you’re in the United States, this option isn’t available yet. MINI is gearing up to launch an EV production line in Oxford by 2026, which could potentially open up the American market to these models, but it may take some time before they’re available stateside.

As for the future of the EV market post-2026, it remains uncertain. So for now, if you’re eager to experience the Cooper SE, consider booking a trip to Europe, renting one, and enjoying the scenic and narrow European roads!