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The 2025 Mini Cooper SE has 215 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque.Kunal D'souza/The Globe and Mail

The Mini Cooper is a motoring legend that shot to fame in the 1960s to compete with fuel-efficient micro cars that had been popping up with the impending fuel crisis in the wake of the Suez Crisis of 1956, which led to fuel rationing in Britain.

Born out of necessity, the Mini was ahead of its time with the type of packaging efficiency and innovations that had never been seen before. It remains one of the few automotive brands that has endured for more than six decades, nearly unchanged until it was fully redesigned for modern times by BMW in 2000.

Now in its fifth generation, if you count the iconic original that started it all in Britain in 1959, the Mini enters an era where gas-powered engines are being phased out and replaced by electric powertrains. While gas versions will be produced, the new electric Mini Cooper SE picks up where the last one left off but adds more power, a larger battery and more range.

The last generation electric Mini SE, introduced in 2020, used a small electric motor to turn the front wheels and a relatively small 35-kilowatt-hour battery that provided just under 200 kilometres of range. It wasn’t ideal for range-obsessed Canadians, but it made sense as a city car, and its small battery charged quickly when connected to a DC fast charger. It was fun to drive, but its range did limit the appeal. It proved, however, that EVs didn’t need to cost a fortune to be exciting to drive – an attribute carried over from the very first one.

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The 2025 SE is shorter than the outgoing model, but has a longer wheelbase.Kunal D'souza/The Globe and Mail

The classic Mini that made its debut in 1959 was a featherweight with a comically small footprint and tiny 10-inch wheels pushed out to the farthest corners of its body. This deceptively simple design ensured maximum space for passengers and also guaranteed a good time behind the wheel. It didn’t take long for it to become an icon, adored by people from all demographics, including the rich and famous.

On a racetrack, the Mini could outhandle nearly anything it competed against, giving it a big advantage in racing, even if it didn’t have the power to keep up on the straight sections. In 1964, it famously won the Monte Carlo rally against much more powerful competitors, all but cementing its status as an automotive legend. That helped it become a success on the sales floor.

When the modern Mini launched in 2000, BMW doubled down on the classic Mini’s design features, even overdoing things a little, so people would instantly recognize the car, says Andreas Lampka, head of Mini communications.

The 2025 Mini Cooper, which has been “toned down,” moves closer to the design of the original, he says.

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The 2025 SE keeps its traditional friendly front face.Kunal D'souza/The Globe and Mail

Where the last design looked a bit bulbous, the newest Mini feels trim and light; its familiar round headlights no longer feature chrome trim but still remain instantly recognizable. Lampka says the design has been “decluttered, with flush elements like the door handles and the rear tail lights.” Even the roof-mounted antenna has a lower profile, which contributes to the minimalist look that stays true to what Sir Alec Issigonis famously sketched on the back of a napkin all those decades ago.

The Mini Cooper SE is equipped with a 54.2-kilowatt-hour battery pack and a single 160-kilowatt front-axle motor that produces 215 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque. The big news is the increased range of up to 402 kilometres (as measured by the WLTP standard), which nearly doubles what the old one was capable of. Weight has risen to 1,605 kilograms (3,538 pounds), which is heavy for a vehicle with such a small footprint, but powerful, torque-rich EV motors tend to mask much of it.

The newest Mini Cooper three-door model is actually five centimetres shorter than the outgoing one, but with a longer wheelbase, both passenger space and maximum cargo capacity have been slightly increased. You’re still not going to be putting adults in the back of a three-door Cooper but the wider track pays dividends for handling and gives the Mini a much greater presence.

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Cargo capacity has been increased with the longer wheelbase.Kunal D'souza/The Globe and Mail

The classic Mini’s claim to fame was its cheap-and-cheerful nature. It doesn’t take long behind the wheel of the new SE for it to paste a big grin on your face. Just like the original, the newest Mini will give anyone who drives it an uncontrollable case of the giggles. It can be chucked into corners like a go-kart. Under heavy throttle, it will spin its front tires and even tug at the steering wheel like a gas-powered car. Let me explain: Engine torque in an internal-combustion-powered front-wheel drive car can apply a force on the steering, causing it to pull to one side, but it’s a phenomenon that disappears with EVs, even front-wheel-drive ones because of the nature of the electric powertrains.

“It’s not something that failed,” Lampka says with a laugh. “EVs benefit from the fact that you can cut the power exactly when the slip starts, but we wanted to allow a bit, and if you were brought up with front-wheel-drive cars, you might miss that if it’s gone, and that’s why they wanted to keep wheelspin and torque steer in.”

While wheelspin and torque steer might seem like relics of internal combustion, they add an element to the driving experience that you just don’t feel in any other EV. It adds character and makes it feel like Minis of yore.

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The screen is the first example of a 9.5-inch perfectly round OLED.Kunal D'souza/The Globe and Mail

Mini retuned the steering to be lighter and more tactile, and new larger wheels – up to 18 inches in diameter – feel like they’ve been wrapped in sticky flypaper. The endless roundabouts in Spain were no match for its agility and it felt like it could corner twice as fast as larger and more powerful sports cars, very much like the original.

As impressed as we were with the way the new Mini drives, the interior is just as cool, with the industry’s first example of a 9.5-inch perfectly round OLED screen using the latest generation of Mini’s infotainment software based on an Android OS architecture. With a dash and door panels covered in textured fabric, a row of toggle switches reminiscent of the original, and a general airy minimalism, the Mini Cooper SE plants its wheels firmly in the future while paying homage to its storied past.

The Mini Cooper isn’t for everyone and has never been. Its size limits its appeal, but its increased range and endearing character make it one of the most fun cars you can get today at any price.

On-sale dates and pricing for the Mini EV haven’t been confirmed as of this writing. The gas three-door Mini Cooper will be priced from $39,990 in Canada, so expect a premium over that.

Tech specs

2025 Mini Cooper SE

  • Price: To be announced
  • Powertrain / battery: Single electric motor with 215 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque (160 kilowatts), 54.2-kilowatt-hour battery pack
  • Transmission / drive: Single-speed /front-wheel drive
  • Curb weight: 1,605 kilograms
  • Energy consumption / range: To be announced / Up to 402 kilometres (WLTP combined)
  • Alternatives: Fiat 500e, Chevrolet Bolt, Kia Soul EV

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

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