Mini launches first all-electric convertible

The EV tech underneath might be old, but Mini is betting 'open-air go-kart' concept will justify huge price tag

By PH Staff / Wednesday, 15 February 2023 / Loading comments

Mini made a big fuss of electrifying its first hatchback back in 2020. It had every right to – it had spent a decade on research and development with the innovative and long-running Mini E project. The brand called the production model its most significant since BMW relaunched it two decades earlier. In contrast, its first electric convertible has had a much smaller run-up. Just last summer the firm revealed a prototype as a ‘one-off’; now, only eight months later, it has revealed the new all-electric Mini Cooper SE Convertible, a variant it will sell from April of this year. 

Somewhat inevitably, there are some caveats. The first is that production will be limited to just 999 examples, all to remain in Europe. Of those, 150 are said to have been earmarked for the UK – where, we should add, the car is not made (Mini Convertibles are assembled in the Netherlands). So there’s that. Then there’s the small matter of the price: £52,500 for a single trim in either Enigmatic Black or White Silver. For handy reference, an entry-level Porsche 718 Boxster starts at £49,700. 

Of course, that’s largely by the by. In making the new convertible a strictly limited prospect – not to mention the first of its type – BMW has virtually assured that it could charge what it likes for the result. Doubtless, its view on the matter has been bolstered not only by the reaction to the earlier prototype, but also the popularity of the car on which it’s based. The company reckons that one in five Minis sold in Europe is an all-electric variant, and suggests its sales record ‘spurred us to implement the small series of the MINI Cooper SE Convertible within only a few months.’ 

Naturally, it was spurred by other things, too. Not least the fact that an entirely new generation of all-electric Mini will be with us later this year, and bring with it (in the fullness of time) its own convertible variant. So you’d imagine it was rather a case of now or never for the current Cooper SE Convertible. And all things being equal – i.e. disregarding the price for a moment – it’s hard to bear much of a grudge against the newcomer. Sure, it’s got a silly Union Jack fabric roof and some other questionable styling details, but the electric hatch was a genuinely decent runaround, and there’s no reason to think the open-air version won’t follow suit. 

Certainly, it’s going to seem very familiar. Mini says it’s exactly the same size as a conventionally-powered Mini Convertible, right down to the very modest 160-litre load capacity offered by the boot. In the powertrain department, it gets the same 184hp electric motor as its EV sibling (and the BMW i3 S) alongside what we assume is the same T-shaped battery pack. Either way, the brand says it’ll manage 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds, and ought to be good for a range of around 125 miles. Not quite as spritely or as rangy as the hatchback, but presumably the drop-top is carrying a fair bit more structural timber for its sins. Obviously Mini promises the obligatory go-kart feeling regardless. 

Factor in a predictably high spec and lots of Piano Black surfaces, and it’s easy to imagine the right sort of urbanite buying into the Convertible like it were freshly sliced Keto bread. The eye-watering premium over an entry-level Mini Electric – which starts at £29,000 – is enough to give anyone pause for thought (ditto the idea that the model is about to be replaced with something much more advanced) – but for now the Cooper SE Convertible is offering what BMW claims is a world first: a small, silent, zero-emission car with no roof. Expect them to sell out imminently.

  • 2020 Mini Electric | UK Review
  • 2021 Mini John Cooper Works | PH Review

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