The New Mini Cooper SE Will Be Worth the (Long?) Wait

2025 mini cooper se
New Mini Cooper SE: Worth the (Long?) WaitMini

There's a lot to like about the next-generation Mini Cooper SE, starting with its underpinnings. This electric Mini now rides on a dedicated EV platform rather than a modified version of the gas model's chassis. Why diverge? The primary benefit is dedicated underfloor space for a battery big enough to enable a C/D-estimated 212 miles of EPA range, based on a conversion of its 250-mile European WLTP rating.

But this new EV platform introduces one difficult problem: It's built in China in a joint-venture plant with Great Wall Motors. This subjects it to high tariffs that are currently set at a hard-to-swallow 25 percent, with further efforts well underway to raise that to an untenable 100 percent. In fact, there's enough uncertainty that Mini USA has not yet confirmed when (or even if) we will see this model, let alone what it might cost.

Despite all that, the new J01-series electric Mini is currently headed to European customers, and we sampled the more powerful SE variant that's most likely to replace the last-generation F56-based Cooper SE.

2025 mini cooper se

Never Mind the Politics

Technically, gas-powered Mini Coopers and their electric-drive counterparts are now entirely different cars, because they ride on different platforms. All their major dimensions differ, in fact. Mini stylists have gone to great lengths to disguise this reality, and the engineers that tuned the two chassis worked toward the same targets. The goal: If you test-drive one and buy the other, you won't be surprised by any differences apart from power delivery, engine note, and how you fuel them up.


If you do study the physical differences, you'll find that the new Mini EV's 99.4-inch wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than that of the gas-powered F66. Its front and rear track widths measure 60.6 and 60.4 inches respectively, which makes them 1.6 and 1.4 inches broader than the latest gasser.

Crucially, the J01 Cooper SE's battery can inhabit the entire underfloor region, rather than an awkward T-shaped unit jammed into the central tunnel and wherever the gas tank was. These changes conspire to allow for a 70 percent larger battery than its predecessor, trading the outgoing SE's 28.9-kWh pipsqueak for a comparatively massive 49.2-kWh unit that pushes range toward the 200-mile territory.

2025 mini cooper se

Thing is, you won't really notice the extra size. The new Cooper SE is just over an inch taller, not quite a half-inch wider, and has 0.2 inch less ground clearance than the F66 gas Mini, but these changes only serve to preserve the overall proportions and maintain interior space despite the full-width underfloor battery. It also helps that it's nearly three-quarters of an inch shorter from tip to tail, and its hood is slightly shorter because the base of the windshield has been pulled forward to increase rake and reduce drag. In a nondimensional sense, the EV hides its marginally larger size with taller tires and by omitting the ICE model's wheel arch spats.

More Play Underway

Along with the bigger battery, Mini upsized the electric motor from 181 to 215 horsepower. Torque rises too, from 199 to 243 pound-feet. The bigger battery and larger vehicle dimensions do bring weight up roughly 500 pounds (exact U.S.-optioned and SAE-formatted figures have not been produced), but the J01 model will still have a more favorable power-to-weight ratio. The last SE we tested got to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, so we're thinking 5.7 seconds for this one.

Quarter-mile prowess should improve even more, because the old car's 14.8-second run likely brushed against the 93-mph speed limiter. This new one tops out at 106 mph, so it should have full power across the stripe.

2025 mini cooper se

It was hard to get a true sense of the new SE's changes on the narrow byways we drove in Spain, but the electric Cooper displayed plenty of punch when we stood on the accelerator, particularly when executing simulated passing maneuvers. The bigger motor contributes to a stronger regen feeling at its High setting, but Medium, Low, and Adaptive are on offer if you're not into lift-throttle braking. Either way, the brakes feel natural and smooth throughout, with no sense of a computer handover underfoot.

Despite their different platforms, both ICE and EV Coopers ride on the same combo of strut front and multilink rear suspension. They're tuned and dimensioned differently to account for differing weights and tire sizes (the heavier EV has 205/50R-17 tires instead of the ICE's 215/45R-17s), but the goal is the same: that renowned go-kart handling. Never mind that actual go-karts have zero suspension and ride poorly; the Mini EV is faithful to the brand's thankfully non-literal interpretation.

When roads are smooth, the J01 SE rides exceedingly flat and exhibits precious little body roll as it cuts an eager arc through tight corners. Add in ripples or slumps, on the other hand, and the Mini's paucity of suspension travel introduces a certain abruptness. The EV's longer wheelbase, wider track, heavier mass, and taller tires do temper such ill effects, as its ride is somewhat less busy and better able to cope with imperfections.

2025 mini cooper se

Are You Experienced?

Customization is a focus of the new Mini, and so there are seven "Experience" modes you can select with a toggle on a simplified control interface. Every mode alters the central infotainment display's color palette and font, but some also tweak steering effort, accelerator responsiveness, and even the synthesized powertrain sound that can fill the cabin.

Core is the base setting, while Green and Go-Kart induce driving behaviors you can probably surmise. What you can't imagine is the unique soundscape of Go-Kart, which is entertaining for about five minutes. The Timeless mode attempts to re-create that gruff feel of the original Mini in both sound and in the display's design. We like Vivid because it sharpens response and delivers nicely weighted steering without any soundtrack, although it must be said that steering weight does not necessarily mean steering feel. There's also a Balance motif and a Personal mode, which lets you mix and match settings and upload a background image.

2025 mini cooper se

The above exists within the context of a stylish, simple, and easy-to-digest control interface. The pizza-sized central screen is the star, but it somehow doesn't feel like touchscreen overload. That's because there are plenty of traditional controls on the steering wheel spokes, the two stalks on the steering column, and the doors. Switches below the screen handle shifting functions and the experience modes, as well as volume and track-skip controls for the passenger. The protruding start button must be twisted, like a key. Remember those?

We normally don't like touchscreen temperature controls, but Mini's somehow work because of the round screen. Those controls live as unobtrusive arcs on the lower left and right edges. We also aren't crazy about central speedometers, but our Mini had a slender head-up display, and its flip-up screen comes across as more of a "real" instrument.

The simple control strategy fits in with the interior's overall simplicity. Patterned more on furniture and industrial design than automotive design, the Mini's dash is covered with a woven material patterned with a faint houndstooth check. Fabric straps appear on the dash and are used as center console and seatback releases, but one is also used as a tensioned third "spoke" in what is otherwise a two-spoke steering wheel. The door panels are similarly festooned with fabric, with one clever bit being how the speaker grilles also double as door pulls. Beyond mere looks, the front chairs are quite comfortable, holding fast in corners without being an over-bolstered bother on the highway.

2025 mini cooper ev

Wish You Were Here

Mini announced its intention to bring J01 production to the company's main Oxford plant in 2026, and that would make the then-tariff-free Mini Cooper SE a 2027 model for us. That's a long time to wait, but the new SE does promise to be more appealing to more people. The outgoing model's 114 miles of range is a tough sell—even for those who understand the adequacy of that figure for a second-car runabout—but the next-generation Mini Cooper SE's expected 200-plus miles of range and dedicated platform should make it easier to open hearts, minds, and wallets (once Mini tells us how much it costs).

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