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Mini Cooper SE Hardtop: Fun to drive, but short on range

Mini GP Media Track Program in Monticello, NY on September 17th, 2020. The Mini Cooper SE Hardtop. | Photo courtesy Mini USA

The Mini Cooper SE has the quick steering, short wheelbase, and firm, well-controlled suspension that produce the nimble handling for which Minis are famed.

Outside, the SE looks nearly identical to the regular two-door Mini Hardtop; inside, it has the high-quality materials, pizza pie–sized center infotainment screen, and cosseting front seats of other Minis.

The Mini Cooper SE Hardtop | Photo courtesy Mini USA

Photo courtesy Mini USA

To be sure, the electric vehicle’s driving dynamics differ slightly from its gas-powered siblings’. The SE’s torquey electric motor gives instant, abundant acceleration, and regenerative braking lets you brake by merely lifting your foot off the accelerator.

The SE’s 114-mile range (for a 2022 model) on a full charge is, to be kind, mediocre—okay for an urban runabout, impossible for cross-country trekking. But the SE is affordable as EVs go. Its base price includes lots of standard features, and it qualifies for a federal tax credit up to $7,500, plus possible state and local incentives. In short, government largesse can make the SE around the same price as a regular Mini Hardtop—which means this green car can save you some green.

Vehicle layout: Single electric motor (181 hp), single-speed transmission, FWD

MSRP, base model/as tested: $30,750/$37,750

MPGe, city/highway/combined:119/100/110 (2022 model)

Safety ratings: NHTSA, IIHS: not yet rated

Basic warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles

Final assembly: Oxford, United Kingdom

Spare tire: Tire-inflator kit

Takeaway: Fun to drive, but short on range

AAA Automotive Correspondent Peter Bohr has been writing about cars for more than four decades.

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