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2025 Mini Cooper SE First Drive: A Good Thing Worth Waiting For

The new Mini Cooper SE has more range and more power, but there's a big catch

2025 Mini Cooper SE front 3/4
  • Mini's latest EV is an all-electric overhaul of the Cooper SE.
  • A whole new platform and bigger battery promise 215 horsepower and over 200 miles of range.
  • More power and an incredible interior are excellent, but sadly, no U.S. release date is confirmed.

If I had to pick a favorite flavor of Mini Cooper based purely on in-the-moment impressions — the sheer joy and engagement felt from behind the wheel — I would surely go for the battery-powered Cooper SE. Silent and smooth but delightfully quick with its instant shot of torque, the outgoing electric Cooper is everything I want a Mini to be.

But with only 114 miles of range at its disposal (per the EPA; Edmunds saw 129 miles), the old Cooper SE was really only a machine for those with modest needs. Or perhaps a second car relied upon for commuting duties.

With the new-generation Mini Cooper SE, that formula changes. A much bigger battery pack means more range, while more power and practicality extend its everyday chops. Of course, that also means more weight. Is it worth the trade-off? I headed to Spain to find out.

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2025 Mini Cooper SE rear

Getting seated

The steering wheel in the new Mini SE is plush and fat, a feeling that's a bit odd but hardly out of character for the brand — especially if you consider its BMW parentage. Even so, that's not the most curious part. The subtly D-shaped wheel has a little strap of fabric that makes a sort of mock third spoke. It's unnecessary and slightly silly but fresh and interesting, a theme carried throughout the interior of the new Cooper SE.

The Cooper uses fabrics in novel ways throughout the cabin, cloaking the dashboard with a woven material reminiscent of the mesh sneakers everyone wore last season. I fear that the pace of footwear fashion might leave this looking a bit dated in a few years, but for now at least, I love it, exaggerated houndstooth pattern and all.

But even that's not the most significant talking point of this excellent interior. Everyone will be gaping at the 9.4-inch circular OLED display that stands tall and proud out of the center of the dashboard. It's exclusive to the 2025 Mini lineup (the new Countryman has one, too), and it's truly stunning to see in person.

2025 Mini Cooper SE interior

It's also, I'm happy to report, snappy and responsive to use. The software was stuttery and buggy when first tested in a preproduction Countryman SE a few months ago. Today, that same software in the Mini Cooper SE is smooth and beautiful, changing colors and sounds to match each of the seven drive modes. One of them, called Timeless, evokes a sepia-tone look and feel to the software, even applying ornate dials and lettering, a nod to the original 1959 Mini.

The colors extend beyond the display onto the dash itself, thanks to a pair of pico projectors built in behind that display. LEDs in the door cards and even integrated into the ceiling create a genuinely vibrant, fresh space.

And it's a deceptively roomy one, too. Mini opted for a non-opening panoramic sunroof to maximize headroom, and I was surprised to find plenty not only in the front seats but in the rears, too. Legroom in the back is necessarily limited, but honestly, a quick run into town from the back seats would be no problem at all. Up front, the seats are plush and comfortable but offer generous bolstering that'll keep you planted when you're sampling the new SE's handling.

2025 Mini Cooper SE wheel

What's under the hood?

Despite the new Mini SE looking so similar to the upcoming internal combustion engine 2025 Mini Cooper, it's a different car on a different platform. Designed to be an EV, it can accommodate a far bigger battery pack than the outgoing electric Cooper SE.

While that car made do with 32.6 kWh worth of lithium ions, the new Cooper SE has 54.2 kWh, with 49.2 kWh of usable capacity. It charges faster, too, at up to 95 kW, which is far from Taycan territory but plenty quick given the pack size on offer here — especially considering the old car maxed out at 50 kW.

That's the good news; here's the bad: That bigger pack comes with a big weight penalty. The new Cooper SE weighs 3,539 pounds, or about 500 pounds more than the outgoing model.

It's not just a bigger battery, though. The new Cooper SE is physically larger, too, with the wheelbase stretching 1.2 inches longer. Thankfully, The SE has more oomph to cope with its extra girth. Output is now up to 215 horsepower, with torque up to 243 lb-ft. Neither are world-class numbers, but the old SE was plenty plucky with just 181 hp and 199 lb-ft.

2025 Mini Cooper SE front

How does it drive?

The new Cooper SE still has that same charm. It's punchy off the line in any of the drive modes, but is, of course, most fun in the trademark Go Kart setting. Here, Mini's designers augmented the SE with a new "engine" note, which is a bit rorty and snarly, like an overstrung four-cylinder somehow merged with an F-16 on full afterburner. It even has a weird sort of induction flutter sound when you lift off the throttle, all noises that are decidedly silly.

Yet the new Cooper SE has also grown up somewhat with its extra size and weight. It doesn't quite duck and dive like it used to, and the overly stiff steering is lacking in feedback, but it's still an absolute blast to drive.

On rough roads around Barcelona, the Cooper SE still has the trademark slightly oversprung feel of a Mini, accentuated somewhat by the extra weight of the battery pack. But even over the millions of speed bumps that Barcelona has deployed within its city limits, I never tired of the car's ride quality. The new Cooper SE is firm, yes, but not harsh.

2025 Mini Cooper SE trunk

Future unknown

So, while we know the Cooper SE feels a little more grown-up than before, and its extra range certainly makes it far more practical, sadly there's an awful lot that we don't know. We don't have U.S. pricing for the machine, nor do we have an EPA-estimated range. Mini says it will do 402 kilometers, or 250 miles on the optimistic European WLTP cycle. That should mean somewhere between 200 to 225 miles on the American EPA cycle, but the car hasn't been tested yet.

When will it be tested? That, too, we don't know. Mini hasn't said when or even if the new Cooper SE will come to the U.S. Why the delay? Well, you see, the new Mini Cooper SE is manufactured in China by Great Wall Motor, and we seem to be in the middle of a bit of a trade war with China right now. Ever-changing and escalating tariffs make for a particularly tumultuous import process at the moment.

2025 Mini Cooper SE rear 3/4

And so, while the Cooper SE is arriving at European dealerships soon, we will have to wait a while longer. OK, maybe a lot longer, but there is reason for hope. The electric Countryman SE is coming to the U.S., thanks to its manufacture in Leipzig, Germany. The outgoing Cooper SE, however, was made in England at Mini's Oxford factory, which is currently being upgraded to build future EVs. Those upgrades are slated to be completed in 2026. Hopefully, it'll start cranking out electric Coopers soon after, possibly destined for American shores.

Edmunds says

Though a little more soft than before, the new Mini Cooper SE offers big upgrades in range and overall performance. Add on that superb interior, and we're totally sold — if and when we can actually buy one.

Photography by Tim Stevens

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