► New 2024 Mini Cooper Electric revealed in full
► First look at new Mini co-built with Great Wall
► Simpler, calmer exterior, digifest interior
The new 2024 Mini Cooper Electric is perhaps the most trailed car of the year – but after the scoops, leaks and the endless teasers, the new baby Brit is finally here.
The car has been fully unveiled ahead of its world debut at the IAA Munich motor show on parent company BMW’s doorstep and we can now see the full picture. It’s a smooth, well-resolved exterior design, shorn of some fussiness that’s blighted recent Minis and there’s a techfest interior that majors on digital innovation.
The fourth generation of BMW’s Mini will usher in a new era for the storied British small car and it’s the car that’ll act as a bridge between the combustion and electric eras. As we predicted, you can choose either powerplant for this stepping-stone product.
The electric Mini unveiled today is the first fruits of a fresh collaboration between Munich and Great Wall Motor, as the two car makers are co-developing the EV creds of BMW’s premium supermini. It’s a partnership that brings the price of the Mini EV to as low as £30k.
The distinctive Mini silhouette is remarkably unchanged, with the floating contrast-colour roof, blacked-out window pillars and flush glazing all continuing in to the fourth generation of Mini. It’s an enduring aesthetic that’s lasted remarkably well since the first R50 arrived in 2000.
Perhaps the most distinctive new details are at the front and rear: the new 2024 Mini Cooper is bookended by a mono-panel grille with trad oval headlights and distinctive new, triangular rear lamps with toned-down echoes of the Union flag motif from today’s Mini hatchback.
The rear light graphics will actually be available with three different patterns; not every market is a fan of British flags post-Britpop and Brexit…
Mini Cooper Electric: launch date, prices and specs
The new electric Mini lands in UK dealers in spring 2024, priced from £30,000. Expect a choice of two models:
- Mini Cooper Electric E £30,000, 182bhp/214lb ft, 7.3sec 0-62mph, 99mph top speed, 190-mile range
- Mini Cooper Electric SE £34,500, 215bhp/243lb ft, 6.7sec 0-62mph, 106mph top speed, 250-mile range
That’s a remarkably attractive starting price, nudging the baby Beemer down towards the budget of more first-time EV buyers, Mini hopes… Check out our guide to the cheapest electric cars here.
The cheaper car comes with a 41kWh battery, while the Mini Cooper Electric SE has a larger 54kWh capacity. AC home charging is up to 11kW, while DC fast charging is available up to 95kW, meaning a 10-80% top-up can be achieved in less than 30 minutes, according to Mini.
Put every generation of the new Mini in a row, and you could argue that each car looks like a slightly lower resolution of the one before. Grilles become less complex, and the car has gradually become a more distilled version of the original design. With that in mind, the new Cooper could be seen as the most ‘Mini’ version of the model since BMW assumed the rights and launched the Frank Stephenson original.
The overriding vision has been to declutter and simplify the look of the new Mini. Notice how the plastic wheelarch cladding is gone, the absence of chrome and the number of parts going into the door panels has plummeted from 30 to six.
‘Inspired by our history, we have developed our own new design language, defining our DNA,’ said design boss Oliver Heilmer, who says he’s trying to recapture the purity of the original (below).
‘We call it “Charismatic Simplicity.” The idea behind it is a design that gives each new Mini model a strong, individual character and is characterised by a clear, reduced design language intuitively focused on the essentials of the brand.
‘In the front you see, round headlights, really crucial for the Cooper,’ Heilmer told CAR at the new EV’s world debut at the Munich motor show. ‘The grille has the same principle as the original. It is as defined as the first one.’
The Cooper looks back to the 1950s source material, rather than continuing to evolve the previous design. ‘We were like really looking closer to the original in terms of let’s say, surface treatment,’ Heilmer adds.
Parts of the car have obviously been modernised, though: for example, the side profile of the car has been designed to make it look lower and more compact – removing some of the perceived weight of its skateboard platform underneath.
‘Looking at the body side, for instance, where the highlight is running. It’s now lower [than the last car] to lower the visual gravity of the car,’ the design chief explains. The physical centre of gravity of the car is lower too; that typical skateboard layout does have some advantages for weight distribution and handling.
Pleasingly, Mini has bucked the trend of ever-expanding city cars and made the new Cooper shorter. Smaller overhangs than its predecessor at the rear, and especially the front, have made the car more compact, while maintaining a high level of protection for occupants. Yet the interior is 2cm wider.
‘What we did together with the engineers, especially at the front [we use] special deformation elements that are more expensive, but they’re able to keep the overhangs short as possible,’ Heilmer told CAR.
First look at the interior
Just like the current car, the new Mini Cooper Electric’s cabin is dominated by a circular display – but this one is a giant touchscreen whose graphics are designed to fit the round shape fully.
Gone are the days of a small rectangular display squeezed awkwardly into an analogue round dial. Here the apps are all natively circular and it shows.
The central touchscreen houses all instruments within the circular display – including read-outs for speed, navigation, audio and phone readings.
Elsewhere, the interior is pared-back and shorn of much adornment. Note the head-up display visible in this image above, plus physical heating controls that retain the classic Mini toggle switch and an interestingly textured dashboard top.
It’s designed to hark back to the 1959 original’s three core cabin elements: a steering wheel, round centre dial and a toggle bar. We’re not sure what a Londoner in the Swinging Sixties would make of the new knitted dashboard – the home for projected light shows and a son et lumière experience depending on the driving mode selected…
A total of 30 new sounds have been developed for warning and information functions and drivers can use ‘Hey Mini’ requests in the newly updated Mini Operating System OS9, which is built around the Android software stack.
Mini showcased part of its new infotainment system at the Shanghai motor show this spring: the British bulldog motif called Spike is being used in China to emphasise the brand’s Britishness – but ignore the canine fluff and this is our first sight of how the centrally mounted dial will spawn a new digital touchpoint for owners, who can run nav, apps and heating systems from the prominent round screen on the dashboard.
Digital trickery: reviewing the new Mini’s infotainment
The new round OLED dials and sound and light show turn the cabin into an animated interior. The Mini Interaction Unit (yes, really…) is Munich’s name for the round OLED display measuring 24cm in diameter and CAR has sampled its graphics in action: they’re pin-sharp and fast-reacting; because the screen is positioned in the classic central location on the dashboard, it can be read by the driver and passengers.
Mini’s designers are balancing modern graphics with a more retro style, including the ability to set the dials into a retro typeface reminiscent of the 1950s original (below). This is just one of eight Experience Modes available, ranging from Core to Go-Kart and Green depending on your driving style requirements.
Whichever mode the screen is set in, Mini has finally optimised the display for a round screen; even third-party apps such as Spotify now fit and work in the circular space. It works well.
Is it practical?
You’ll not have bought a Mini hatchback for its spaciousness – and the new 2024 model remains a tiddler. We’ve sat in both rows of seats and can confirm the newcomer is very comfortable up front, fine for kids in the back and that you might want to look at the new Mini Countryman if you want more space.
The boot is a modest 200 litres, but you can increase load capaicty to 800 litres by flopping the 60:40 split rear seats down.
The Mini Cooper Electric is our first look at the new Chinese-built EV architecture resulting from BMW’s collaboration with Great Wall in the Spotlight Automotive venture. This is a new electric platform that will underpin every new generation of Mini we’ll see in the next three years, as Munich upgrades its entire small-car range.
Petrol versions will be upgraded to follow closely the new look pictured here – but will, effectively, continue on today’s hardware with 1.5- and 2.0-litre engines and final assembly at Plant Oxford.
It’s a neat way of BMW bridging the gap during the electric switchover and hedging its bets.
When can I buy the Mini Cooper Electric?
The new Mini was unveiled in September 2023 at the IAA show in Germany, with media drives planned for later this year and the first customer cars due in February or March 2024, just in time for Britain’s new 24-reg number plates.
After a quiet few years, this is the start of a major product blitz from Mini: the Cooper Electric was unveiled on the same day as the new Mini Countryman (also available as petrol or electric, but no longer as a plug-in hybrid) and a five-door versions of the Mini hatch will follow, as will Convertibles – again, offered in a variety of powertrain choices.
Plus we’ll finally get to see a new, smaller Mini Aceman launched laster in 2024. Busy times, Chez Mini…