The BMW Group has presented a one-off convertible version of its new, all-electric MINI Cooper SE to gauge customer interest for a potential production model.
As well as previewing the brand’s upcoming electric future, MINI states that the open top four-seater – said to be (deep breath) “the world’s only premium convertible with a fully electric drivetrain in the small car segment” – further proves that open-air driving will be no less dynamic and enjoyable in the new EV era. The “unique specimen” made its dynamic debut at last weekend’s ‘MINI Takes the States’ communal event in the USA, where it was exhibited on the winding roads between Burlington in Vermont and Greenville-Spartanburg in South Carolina.
The new EV features the upper structure of the current Cooper S Convertible, meaning the dimensions – 3,863 mm (12.5 ft) in length with a wheelbase of 2,495 mm (8 ft), a width of 1,727 mm (5.5 ft) and a height of 1,415 mm (4.5 ft) – remain unchanged, as does the 160-litre cargo hold. Unsurprisingly, the heavier EV drivetrain has hefted the curb weight by 140 kg.
Cosmetic differences between the Cooper S Convertible and its prototype EV equivalent include fluorescent detailing on the wing mirrors and wheel rims, as well as a non-too-subtle ‘This Toy is Electric’ decal down both flanks.
Beneath the surface, the new EV uses the same powertrain components as the MINI Electric, meaning a 135 kW (184 hp) compact electric motor powers the front axle and is mated with a 32.6 kWh battery pack. Electric range is a modest 230 km – on par with the MINI Electric, on-sale since 2019 – though this doesn’t seem to have been impacted by the folding roof mechanism: the textile soft-top can still be opened and closed in just 18 seconds and at speeds of up to 30 km/h.
The EV convertible is also capable of a pretty handy 0-100 km/h in 7.7 seconds, while clever weight distribution – sorry, “exceptionally harmonious axle load distribution” – suggest the EV convertible should be as maneuverable as a MINI ‘go-kart’ is marketed to be.
MINI has previously stated that the new-generation MINI Electric, set to arrive in 2023, will be available as standard as a hatchback, though this test of the electrical waters, and the new model’s stronger EV-dedicated base, means the brand has not ruled out a convertible model arriving by the middle of the decade.