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2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop: 5 Things We Like and 3 Things We Don’t

mini-cooper-se-electric-2020-04-exterior--rear-angle--silver.jpg 2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop | Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

The 2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop is an electric-powered coupe that capitalizes on the brand’s reputation for building small cars that are fun to drive and easy to park. If you’re a fan of the basic blueprint of a Mini Cooper, you’ll cheer for the SE Hardtop version. That’s because Mini engineers seamlessly integrated the car’s electric motor and battery pack into the tight confines of the Cooper platform.

Related: 2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop Review: Electric, Fun and Priced for Its Modest Range

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Used
2020 MINI Hardtop Cooper S
14,963 mi.
$27,549 $441 price drop
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Used
2020 MINI Hardtop Cooper
11,999 mi.
$26,590
Good Deal | $440 under
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During a recent test drive, we were impressed by the sharp handling, relatively comfortable ride and peppy acceleration provided by the powertrain. Another point in this Mini’s favor is a base price that starts around $30,000 — not including applicable electric vehicle tax credits. That makes this electric Mini less expensive than rivals such as the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3. Less appealing is the car’s mediocre range, plus the fact that things get seriously cramped onboard when bringing more than one other person along for the ride.

Want to know the details? You can find our complete review of the 2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop by following the link to Joe Wiesenfelder’s review above. For a quick overview of this car’s biggest pros and cons, keep scrolling down right here:

Things We Like

1. Affordable Price

Minis aren’t known for being the most budget-friendly choice when choosing among small cars with city-friendly proportions; start adding options and they can get awfully pricey. In the case of the Cooper SE Hardtop, however, the base price of $30,750 (including destination) is less than what you’d pay for a BMW i3, as well as the aforementioned Bolt EV, Leaf or Model 3. More good news is that the Cooper SE Hardtop remains eligible for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits; this deal is no longer available on rivals like the Bolt EV and Model 3.

mini-cooper-se-electric-2020-13-gearshift--interior.jpg 2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop | Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

2. Fun to Drive

This is a Mini, so the handling had better be sharp. While the brand’s promised go-kart-like steering reflexes is a bit of a stretch, the Cooper SE Hardtop is nimble and entertaining to drive. Credit the better front/rear weight balance that comes with the packaging of the electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack: The pack itself forms a T shape down the spine of the car and under the second-row seats. With the equivalent of 181 horsepower, the Cooper SE Hardtop scoots from 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds. Power at city speeds feels even stronger thanks to how electric cars deliver lots of torque the moment you press the gas pedal. 

3. Roomy (for a Two-Person Hatchback) 

Roomy? Well, yes, the Mini Cooper SE Hardtop is spacious if you think of it as a two-person hatch with a rear seat that’s primarily an extension of the trunk. Is this cutting the SE too much of a break? Maybe, but with the rear seats folded there’s a handy 34 cubic feet of space.

mini-cooper-se-electric-2020-38-cargo--interior.jpg 2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop | Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

4. Ideal Second (or Third) Car 

There’s no getting around the fact that the Cooper SE Hardtop offers much less range than rival electric cars … but when you consider this electric-powered Mini as a second or third car, something to get you to work and for running local errands, the case for it is much stronger. 

5. Quirky Cabin, Quality Feel

Mini Coopers have a cabin that has the look and feel of a premium product. The dash-mounted toggle switches are all there, as is the large circular-shaped housing for the infotainment screen and stereo controls. The materials are of a high quality and are a cut above what you’d find in a Chevy Bolt or Nissan Leaf.

mini-cooper-se-electric-2020-15-center-stack-display--interior.jpg 2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop | Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

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Things We Don’t

1. Range, Range, Range

If you’re considering the Mini Cooper SE Hardtop as your only car, good luck: The EPA-estimated 110 miles of range puts a serious crimp on long-distance driving plans. We still think this fun-to-drive electric car has plenty of merit as a household’s second or third vehicle, yet the Mini’s limitations could make it a hard sell, especially since many other EVs sold today have a minimum of 150-200 miles of range.

2. Slow Recharging Times

Another electrical sticking point: Compared to other EVs, the Mini is slower to recharge once you find a spot to plug in. The car’s EPA-estimated 108 mpg-equivalent efficiency rating trails other electrics, including the Bolt EV, Leaf and Model 3. This is particularly important if you plan on using public charging stations for most of your recharging needs.

3. Cramped (for a Four-Person Hatchback)

See what we did here? When you think of the Mini Cooper SE as a two-seat hatch with a rear seat devoted mostly to cargo space, there’s no problem — but try getting four adults into this Mini and things will get ugly quickly. While Mini’s engineering team did an excellent job integrating the battery pack and electric motor into the SE’s tiny proportions, this remains a small city car with little room left over for cargo or rear passengers.

mini-cooper-se-electric-2020-01-angle--exterior--front--silver.jpg 2020 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop | Cars.com photo by Joe Wiesenfelder

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