2024 Mini Cooper SE Revealed

2024 Mini Cooper SE Revealed

Before anyone assumes that the upcoming two-door Mini, which will be produced through a joint venture in China and slated for release in 2024, would lose its distinctive character, let me clarify: the Cooper SE is sharper and more exciting than ever before. This conclusion is based on our firsthand experience.

What does life teach us? It is best to consider the end result before diving headfirst into something, only to realize later that it’s headed in the wrong direction or even towards failure. In this regard, Mini has made all the right choices. Why? Because after a few quick laps, we found ourselves on the handling course in Saalfelden, unable to wipe the grins off our faces.

Why? Because of our first drive with the new Mini Cooper SE. We had already received some preliminary information, but now came the most crucial part: experiencing the drive ourselves. And that’s exactly what we did, even if the weather was far from scorching, on a soaking wet track with winter tires.

J01 excels on the wet track

Mini Cooper (2024) : premier aperçu | Moniteur Automobile

Any problems? None at all. The J01 demonstrated its prowess in terms of lateral dynamics, effortlessly maneuvering around corners just like in the good old days. In terms of handling, many Mini enthusiasts felt that the previous model (F56) had lost some of its sparks. It drove in a dignified and safe manner, of course, but it had been stripped of its anarchic liveliness, the exhilaration and dynamic bursts that used to be a hallmark. In pursuit of consistently safe driving behavior under all conditions, even the most challenging ones, Mini had toned down the excitement.

F56 drives fast but lacks spirit

This is how we felt during the warm-up laps in Saalfelden with the current SE model. It was fast, composed, and safe, with a more conservative approach to traction and dynamic control. Want to test its response to load changes? You can try, but it won’t budge. It’s like provoking a street thug with an insult and getting no reaction.

It has undergone extensive anti-aggression training, and the results are apparent. So, let’s move on to the new model. Uh-oh! Anyone who assumed that a soulless, routine Chinese product would be behind the wheel was mistaken. The new Mini is essentially manufactured in a joint venture with Great Wall in China (Spotlight Automotive), partly to benefit from the relevant experience in China and access its market.

Development and design by BMW Group

But hold on! There’s no trace of badge engineering here. The architecture was developed exclusively by the BMW Group, and the design also originates from Munich. The development is carried out by the BMW Group team in both Munich and China. Oh, and a portion of the production will take place in Oxford, which is closer to the European market and helps mitigate market fluctuations.

This decision is especially important because they believe this could be the best-selling Mini ever. Do you still want to start a debate? Go ahead and discuss the Ora Funky Cat with someone from the BMW Group, whisper something about twin brothers. You’ll quickly realize that these two have nothing in common, especially when it comes to their battery placement. Instead, a Mini is a Mini is a Mini is a Mini. It’s designed and built accordingly.

Next-gen 2024 MINI Electric to gain space, efficiency & charm

The new model can be wilder too, if desired

This brings us back to the starting point, or rather, the end of the test drive. And we conclude: That’s right. The Cooper SE drives just as precisely and safely as its predecessor. However, when you select the dynamic, customizable driving program (aptly named “go-kart” because, apparently, we need some fun), the 3.86-meter long, approximately 1.6-ton front-wheel drive happily darts around corners.

With the steering and throttle under your command, you can delightfully initiate turns, enjoy some tail happiness, and maintain control. The engineers laughingly share that during initial calculations on ice, they managed to complete half a lap sideways. It may not be the core competence of a small electric car, but it’s a reassuring sign that Mini is thinking ahead. And that’s a good thing.

Intensive dynamic training for quick control

To achieve this, they’ve employed a multi-link rear axle, added a strut bar in the front, introduced direct geared steering, developed new axle kinematics, and implemented tight stabilizer bearings. While adaptive or adjustable dampers are absent, the engineers have fine-tuned the servo support of the electric steering based on driving and steering speed and mode, resulting in an intensive, situation-specific feeling with abundant feedback and agile handling. This becomes evident when experimenting with the different driving modes (eco, normal, dynamic).

For those who aren’t interested in all the driving dynamics jargon, the new model also offers a comfortable driving experience with smooth power delivery, responsive maneuverability, and solid stability. This is, of course, based on the described conditions and circumstances. The control systems operate seamlessly and adapt to the situation, while the refined wheel slip limitation, located near the actuator, enables swift traction control—a feature carried over from the predecessor.

Performance? It’s ample

And what about the performance? Well, 218 horsepower and ample torque should suffice. In fact, there’s still room for an electric version with 184 horsepower. It’s no surprise that the performance of the combustion engine variants, which will also be available, is similar. But let’s return to the Cooper SE, equipped with a net 54 kWh battery (E: 40.7 kWh), providing an estimated range of around 400 kilometers for the SE variant and 300 kilometers for the E variant. Unfortunately, we couldn’t confirm these figures during our test drive on country roads. Similarly, we couldn’t evaluate the interior as it was completely camouflaged.

2025 Electric MINI Cooper SE Leaked! - MotoringFile

Hardware is already up to date, and software is to be finalized

The new round, borderless OLED central display looks sleek, offers information, and can be operated via touch. However, according to Mini, unlike the chassis and other hardware components, the display’s software is not at its final stage. Therefore, we can expect a stylish and well-designed touchscreen, complemented by a fast computer, upon its market launch in 2024. There will also likely be a few physical buttons and toggles, along with the expected Mini seating position and the typically spacious feeling, despite a slightly flatter windscreen and a less voluminous dashboard.

Don’t worry, Mini will still be Mini, even as a Chinese production joint venture. The BMW Group is cautious in its approach. On the contrary, the Cooper SE drives even more spiritedly than its predecessor, exhibiting freshness and restraint, somehow capturing the spirit of the original Mini. This is evident after our first ride, even though a 1. X ton vehicle can never handle like a go-kart. Nonetheless, we are eagerly anticipating our first dynamic encounter with the undisguised, final hatch.