Mini has launched two brand new contrasting electric models – a sizzling stripped-back hatchback that’s shed unnecessary fripperies and a flexible family runaround that’s grown much bigger in size.
But neither will be built in Britain, where in 1959 Sir Alec Issigonis’s original ’10ft square box’ Mini changed the world of motoring and became an iconic fashion symbol for the Swinging Sixties and beyond.
The new all-electric Mini Cooper and the new enlarged Mini Countryman – offered for the first time as an electric and a petrol version – made their debuts on the eve of Germany’s IAA international motor show in Munich ahead of first customer deliveries from early next year 2024.
‘Charismatic simplicity’: The new electric Mini Cooper is the fifth-generation version of the car
Both share a world’s first circular digital dashboard touchscreen – a 24cm central instrument display which echoes that of the original Mini.
But sadly both Minis will be built abroad rather than at Mini’s UK plant in Oxford – the Cooper hatch in China under a joint venture with Chinese car-maker Great Wall, and the Countryman at parent company BMW’s ‘green’ plant in Leipzig, in Germany – making it the first German-made Mini.
New Mini Cooper
The nippy EV Mini Cooper with a range of up to 250 miles is the fifth-generation version of the car and, following the original 1960s version, is the fourth-generation model to be built under the stewardship of German car giant BMW.
Built on a new front-wheel drive platform, the latest rear-wheel drive Mini Cooper hatchback has a more purist, pared-back, style which the company describes as ‘charismatic simplicity’.
Out go chunky plastic wheel arches and chrome trim. In come creases and lines designed to create unusual highlights and reflections, larger wheels. Flush door handles are offered for the first time.
The cleaner design follows an earlier collaboration between chief designer Oliver Heilmer and British fashion designer and Mini-fan Paul Smith on a stripped-back Mini concept car.
And despite not being built in Britain, Mini bosses were keen in their presentation in Munich to exploit the British link, highlighting new versions of the Union Flag brake lights.
For Mini fanatics, this won’t be the first time they’ve seen the all-new model – that’s because the brand was forced to release some early photographers of the car in April after a number of pictures from a photoshoot in California were ‘leaked’ across the internet.
Priced from £30,000 on the road, the new Mini Cooper is available in two power output options – E and ES.
Prices for the entry electric Mini Cooper will start from £30,000 – though the version with the higher power output is £4,500 more expensive
Despite not being built in Britain, Mini bosses were keen in their presentation in Munich to exploit the British link, highlighting new versions of the Union Flag brake lights.
The Mini Cooper Electric E costing from the base price is powered by 40.7kWh battery and 184 horsepower electric motor that allows it to accelerate from 0-to 62mph in 7.3 seconds up to a top speed of 99mph and with a range of 190 miles.
That would – in theory – be enough to take you from London to Exeter, though Mini says the car is targeted more for ‘an urban lifestyle’ and commuting.
The more powerful 218hp Electric SE model with a 52.2kWh battery accelerates from rest to 62mph in an even sprightlier 6.7 seconds up to a top speed of 106mph and with a longer official range of 250 miles, enough to get you from the capital to York or the Yorkshire Dales.
Charging to 80 per cent using fast DC charging takes under 30 minutes, says Mini.
New exterior colours include Blazing Blue, Sunny Side Yellow and legend Grey. Flush rear lights can be switched to different modes, like the front headlights.
Back to the origins: The EV Mini has the world’s first circular digital dashboard touch-screen
Spacious: There’s underfloor storage in the rear luggage compartment and folding down the rear 60:40 split seats expands the space from 200 litres to 800 litres
Inside the car the main focus is on the stripped back dashboard which has at its centre the world’s first circular digital dashboard touch-screen – a 24 cm central instrument display echoes that of the original Mini.
Will it fit in my garage? New Mini Cooper Electric SE
Built: Zhangjigang, China
First deliveries: Spring 2024
Price: £34,500 (E version from £30,000)
Drive: Rear-wheel drive
Propulsion: electric motor
0-62mph: 6.7 seconds
Top speed: 106mph
Range: 250 miles
Charging: 80% in under 30 minutes
Boot space (seats up): 200 litres
Boot space (seats down): 800 litres
Functions on the upper half include speed and battery status while the lower area includes sat-nav, media, telephone, apps, and a home button.
A series of toggles beneath house the main driving functions: parking brake, gear selector, start/stop key ‘experience mode’ toggle and volume control.
There are three trim levels: Classic, Exclusive and Sport.
In classic trim, the car has for the first time a modern 2D knitted textile interior, Exclusive has a two-tome houndstooth knitted textile pattern, while Sport mixed a multi-coloured textile and black synthetic leather with red stitching.
A new three-spoke steering wheel has a textile strap in the six o’clock spoke.
Mini says: ‘Newly developed, high quality and environmentally friendly materials are also used across the dashboard and door panels, where knitted surfaces are made of recycled polyester and feature a two-tone design.’
To suit your mood or need, there are seven ‘Mini Experience’ driving modes which change the set-up, colours and ambience of the car: Electric; Core; Green; Go-Kart, Personal; Vibrant; Timeless; and Balance.
For feisty ‘Go-Kart’, Mini notes: ‘There is a focus on Mini’s racing DNA.
The display and interior as a whole feature the colours anthracite and red, while a specific analogue displays for driving dynamics complement this mode inspired by John Cooper Works.’
Quick charge: Charging to 80% using fast DC charging takes under 30 minutes, says Mini
The absence of a gear-stick frees up more storage space in the centre console.
There’s additional underfloor storage in the rear luggage compartment and folding down the rear 60:40 split seats expands the space from 200 litres to 800 litres
Mini said: ‘The interior of the vehicle echoes the famous minimalist design of the classic Mini, using just the round instrument cluster in the centre and the famous toggle bar below. It is precisely these two elements, in combination with the steering wheel, that are the focus of the interior cabin.
Mini Cooper is now the generic name for all Mini hatchbacks after the firm dispensed with the name ‘Hatch’.
Head of Mini Stephanie Wurst said: ‘With its electric drive and purist design, the new Mini Cooper is a perfect fit for an urban lifestyle.
‘It combines the traditional Mini DNA with innovative, future oriented technology, while enabling locally emission-free driving fun that is typical of Mini.’
First customer deliveries begin in Spring 2024. A petrol Mini Cooper, to be built at Oxford, will be launched next year.
New Mini Countryman
The Mini Countryman SUV is sold as an electric model as well as a petrol version
Bigger: It has grown from its previous incarnation being 6cm higher and 13 cm longer
Will it fit in my garage? New Mini Countryman Electric SE ALL4
Built: Leipzig, Germany
First deliveries: February 2024
Price: from £46,600 (Countryman petrol range from £28,500, electric range from £41,500)
Drive: All-wheel drive
Propulsion: Twin electric motors
Power: 230 kW (313 hp)
Battery: 64.7 kWh
0 to 62mph: 5.6 seconds
Top speed: 111mph
Range: 269 miles
The third generation Mini Countryman SUV is for the first time sold as an electric model as well as a petrol version – with a claimed EV range of up to 287 miles.
It is also the first Mini capable of Level 2 autonomous driving and shares with the Mini Cooper the world’s first circular 24cm digital dashboard, as well as sharing interior features and three trim levels of Classic, Exclusive and Sport.
It has also grown significantly from its previous incarnation being 6cm higher and 13 cm longer, and with a longer wheelbase than the model it replaces.
Mini bosses say it offers more space and stability for drivers and occupants. It also gains the first fully-fledged intelligent voice assistant ‘Hey Mini’.
The new Countryman is priced from £28,500 for the petrol version and £41,500 for the all-electric model – with both built in parent company BMW’s ‘green’ factory in Leipzig – the first German Mini – and first deliveries from February 2024.
For the EV version there are two performance levels – E and SE ALL4.
The rear-wheel drive Countryman E with a 64.7 kWh battery and 150 kW (204 hp) single electric motor accelerates from 0 to 62mph in 8.6 seconds up to a top speed of 105mph and with a range of up to 287 miles.
The new Countryman is the first Mini capable of Level 2 autonomous driving
Head of Mini Stefanie Wurst says the first Mini to be manufactured in Germany ‘offers the highest levels of environmental compatibility in production’
Equipped with the same 64.7 kWh battery, the all-wheel drive Countryman SE ALL4 is driven by two electric motors totalling 230 kW (313 hp) and accelerates from 0 to 62mph in an even quicker 5.6 seconds up to a top speed of 111mph with a slightly shorter range of 269 miles.
Petrol versions are offered as: the 170hp g Countryman C with front-wheel drive (0-62mph in 8.3 seconds, top speed 132mph) from £28,500; the 218hp Countryman S ALL4 ( 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds, top speed 142mph) from £33,900; and a sizzling increased output 300hp JCW ALL4 model with all-wheel drive (0-62mph in 5.4 seconds, top speed 155mph) from £39,900.
Head of Mini Stefanie Wurst said: ‘The first Mini to be manufactured in Germany offers the highest levels of environmental compatibility in production.
‘Its versatility and powerful electric drive make it the perfect companion in the city as well as for adventures beyond.’
Head of Mini Design Oliver Heilmer said: ‘The new Mini Countryman is our vehicle for the whole family. It has not only grown in height, length and interior, it has also noticeably improved in character, appearance and experience.’
The new Countryman has the first fully-fledged intelligent voice assistant ‘Hey Mini’
Munich-based BMW announced in October that all future electric models will be built abroad.
There is a huge question mark over whether some future electric Mini production will return to Oxford after 2030.
BMW has given no commitment but has insisted: ‘Oxford will always be the home of Mini.’
Any return is likely to be subject to huge taxpayer-funded subsidies.
BMW currently makes around 40,000 electric Minis a year in Oxford but production will end this year. As a consolation, the 2,000 workers there will build the petrol Mini Cooper three-door and five-door models, plus convertibles from 2025.
These include cars for export to markets such as the US, Japan and the Middle East, with BMW confirming that it will not halt production of Minis with internal combustion engines until 2030.
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