ExtremeTech got a chance to take the Mini Cooper SE around the Formula E racetrack in Brooklyn as part of their review.
Flat-out driving wasnít possible on the tight track. What was clear was how quick the car accelerated at the kinds of speeds youíd experience building up steam entering a highway on-ramp or getting through a stoplight that just turned yellow. There was very little lean even at the trackís 180-degree hairpin turn.
Most significantly, when you flip a button on the console for max regeneration, the resistance provided by the generator charging the battery effectively takes over the braking chores. Driving in a tightly bunched wave of five similar Minis, lifting off the throttle immediately slowed my car significantly for the next turn. I only needed to feather the brakes a couple of times on a 15-turn track, typically when the pre-collision alert indicator flashed in the head-up display. (The PCS warning provides ample advance notice.)
If youíve ever been karting, this is the same one-pedal sensation: The moment you lift off the throttle, youíre effectively braking. If you havenít karted, itís like being aboard a riding mower when you lift. (If you havenít been aboard a riding mower, well, itís exciting for 15 minutes.) For drivers who find max regen unsettling, at least at first, you can flip the switch for more minimal brake regeneration.
Like it's been mentioned before their biggest concern comes to the Mini's range.
Our take is that the range ó say itís 140 miles ó is a little disappointing relative to the price. But Mini needed to get an EV into the market. It had a prototype out in 2008 that was made available to 400 enthusiasts, and Mini had plenty of time to digest their comments. (One was that they didnít like batteries replacing the back seat, which shows how far technology has come. Now the back seat is back.) It should have been out already. Weíre assuming the Mini Cooper SE will live for 2-3 years and then weíll see a much-improved version using newer BMW-Mini technology. BMW will ship the iX3 ó a battery-electric X3 ó in a year or so, reportedly with a 300-hp motor and battery good for 250 miles on a charge. The next electric Mini likely will use a scaled-down version of that motor.
Meantime, for the price of what the Mini Cooper SE likely costs, you can get a Tesla Model 3, Kira Niro EV, Chevrolet Bolt, or Nissan Leaf Plus with 226 to 258 miles or range. Only the Tesla matches Mini as a perceived premium brand, which may justify some of the pricing. Or for $30,000 you could get a 150-mile Nissan Leaf. Mini must be counting on the fun factor to woo buyers. That it is: fun, and fast.