The big picture: BMW's all-electric Mini Cooper is set to enter its fifth year of production, and the subcompact EV is finally starting to take shape. It's not yet a world beater, but it might be worth a look if you're longing for that hallmark Mini go-kart experience.
Performance and range were two of the original Mini EV's sore spots. The base model Mini Cooper E still leaves a lot to be desired, with an electric motor rated for 135 kW / 290 Nm (roughly 181 HP / 214 ft-lb) that's good for zero to 60 mph sprints in 7.3 seconds and a rated range of 305 kilometers (about 190 miles).
The Cooper SE, meanwhile, bumps power output to 160 kW / 330 Nm (215 HP / 243 ft-lb). According to BMW, it can hit 60 mph from a stop in 6.7 seconds and has a range of 402 kilometers (250 miles) thanks to a larger 54.2 kWh battery.
The new crop of Coopers still pales in comparison to other EVs with gobs of torque and face-melting acceleration. The platform's limited real estate likely plays heavily into this equation as there is only so much room for big motors and lots of batteries. At a time when full-size SUVs can sprint to 60 mph in under five seconds and sedans can do so in around half that time, the Mini feels turtle slow at 6.7 seconds.
Performance and range isn't everything, however. Interior styling is accented by a massive round OLED screen in the center of the dash. It measures nearly 9.5 inches across and serves as both an instrument cluster and the heart of the infotainment system. A voice-activated personal assistant is at your beck and call, and can be activated by saying "hey Mini." Lights in the dashboard can add a personal touch to the cockpit, BWM said.
The lack of a gear shifter between the front seats results in additional storage space and room for creature comforts like wireless mobile device charging.
BMW will be showcasing its new Mini EVs at the International Motor Show in Munich through September 5. No word yet on pricing or availability.