The automotive market is currently dominated by SUVs and crossovers of various designs and colors, available with both internal combustion engines and electric powertrains. However, there seems to be a lack of small, intelligent, and enjoyable vehicles, particularly in the form of small convertibles that are affordable and offer great fun at a low price. While there are open versions of the Fiat 500 and the Smart Fortwo available, they do not fully capture the essence of a convertible experience.
They are more like partial convertibles or landaulets. This is why the introduction of an open electric Mini, the Cooper SE Cabriolet, is timely and necessary. However, it is important to note that the Cooper SE Cabriolet is a one-off vehicle built by Mini for demonstration purposes and is not available for sale. It serves to showcase the technological advancements in electric vehicles.
The Mini Cooper SE Cabriolet is equipped with sufficient battery capacity for the island of Mallorca, indicating its suitability for local driving needs. The author mentions their previous experience with the Cooper S convertible, which sets the context for their comparison and evaluation of the Cooper SE Cabriolet.
Mini considered two options when developing the Cooper SE Cabriolet: either converting a Cooper SE into a convertible or removing the combustion engine from a Cooper S convertible and replacing it with an electric powertrain. The latter option proved to be more feasible, and the resulting vehicle maintains the high-quality standards associated with the Cooper SE series.
The Cooper SE Cabriolet demonstrates excellent build quality with no noticeable creaks or vibrations, thanks to its already rigid base. Experts even consider the electric Mini to be one of the best models in the Mini lineup. The electric motor operates smoothly and quietly, delivering instant torque of 270 Newton meters, which enhances the driving experience, whether cruising or accelerating in a convertible.
The narrative then shifts to the author’s experience driving in the Tramuntana mountains, which are known for their winding roads. The curves along the mountainside, particularly the famous Sa Calobra, offer an exciting driving experience.
However, due to the presence of cyclists, navigating these roads can be challenging. In the Cooper SE Cabriolet, this becomes less of an issue. The electric convertible provides a serene driving experience, effortlessly passing cyclists without any noise.
The instant torque of the electric motor allows the vehicle to overcome obstacles without the need to shift gears, eliminating the traditional downshifting and revving associated with internal combustion engines. While some traditional car enthusiasts may miss the turbocharger whistling and blow-off valve sounds that the Cooper S provides, the electric convertible offers a more relaxed and peaceful experience within the cyclist pack.
In summary, the Cooper SE Cabriolet addresses the demand for small, affordable, and environmentally friendly convertibles. Its electric powertrain delivers a refined driving experience, with instant torque and smooth acceleration. The author highlights the vehicle’s performance in the scenic Tramuntana mountains, where it effortlessly navigates tight curves and silently overtakes cyclists. The electric convertible offers a more relaxed and peaceful driving experience compared to its internal combustion engine counterparts.
The cockpit of the one-off Mini Cooper SE Cabrio offers a combination of sportiness and exhilaration. The driver maneuvers through a continuous series of curves with remarkable finesse, matching the performance of the 178-horsepower two-liter petrol engine.
The electric motor, benefiting from a low center of gravity and precise traction control, provides an equally thrilling experience while remaining remarkably quiet. The acceleration from zero to one hundred kilometers per hour takes just 7.7 seconds, showcasing the impressive speed and agility of the vehicle as it effortlessly navigates curves, passing obstacles such as rocks, small walls, and clusters of trees.
However, when it comes to power consumption, some planning is necessary due to the vehicle’s 35-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery capacity. While cruising mode allows for a peaceful journey without noise, exhaust, or stress, it is important to keep an eye on the battery indicator, unlike the Cooper S model.
The 35 kWh capacity requires careful management to ensure sufficient power throughout the trip. The Mini Cooper SE Cabrio can be charged using regular household electricity, an 11 kW wall box, or 50 kW fast chargers.
However, fast chargers may not be readily available in all locations, especially in the Tramuntana region. With proper planning, it is still possible to enjoy a full day of driving without needing to recharge on the go. In our experience, we successfully accomplished this, and fast chargers were readily available in Palma. Mallorca offers the advantage of being an island with short but beautiful routes.
The Mini Cooper SE Cabrio exemplifies the seamless integration of electric drive and open-top driving, highlighting their inherent compatibility. This one-off model serves as a promising starting point, leaving us eager to see what the future holds for electric vehicles in this segment.