The all-electric MINI Cooper SE will have a high-performance “GP” version, according to BMWBLOG.
Although no specific details yet, but BMWBLOG confirmed their “extremely reliable source” that the car has been green lighted and is currently in development.
Despite the lack of detail, the “GP” notation shows a focus on performance. A base 2021 petrol-powered Mini Cooper delivers 134 hp and the electric SE version delivers 181 hp. But the new “John Cooper Works GP” gasoline-powered Mini Mini’s new track-focused “John Cooper Works GP” delivers massive output of 301hp, which is more than twice as much as the base model. It also has redesigned bodywork, suspension and other minor performance improvements. And all of this comes at a premium price point, which is more than twice the cost of the base model.
A Mini electric “GP” will likely incorporate many changes in design and composition on the petrol version. But horsepower is something else, because an electric car gets it not just from a large engine, but from a large battery to power it.
The Mini Cooper SE has only 28.9kWh of usable battery capacity in a 32.6kWh battery. There’s not much BMW can do to get more power out of their batteries without switching to a completely different substance, which seems unlikely for a race-focused dedicated car.
BMW can add more battery capacity, but this comes with weight penalties, which is not good for performance. Or perhaps the car won’t launch for a few more years, as battery technology has progressed and become lighter, helping to alleviate this weight penalty.
Another factor is that mileage is much tougher in terms of a vehicle’s energy use than mileage, and a 28.9kWh package just won’t last long, especially at optimum power delivery levels. It would still be great for auto-switching or for short-track sessions a few rounds at once, but for longer sessions, you’ll likely run out of power limits as the battery drains quite quickly.
In our first review of the Mini Cooper SE, we were delighted with the improvements made since the original 2009 Mini E prototype, despite feeling that something was a bit lacking, makes the car feel a bit less “raw” than the 2009 version (which I have to do a lap of the day myself). Seth was also impressive but felt range was a limiting factor in our week-long review.
So if the GP variant offers more performance or a more aggressive driving feel, this would be a welcome improvement over an already attractive package. The base Mini Cooper SE is a good balance between features and a price that fits its niche.
The GP version will have to leave that price tag with whatever improvements are made, putting it in competition with more expensive, long-range electric cars. To stay competitive, it will have to deliver some really impressive performance improvements. With what BMW has done to keep the Mini Cooper SE attractive despite its small battery, we’re looking forward to see what magic they can do with a GP electric model.
One possibility is that BMW could add a rear engine. This should improve the track and 0-60 performance and won’t take a lot of weight, as the electric motor is pretty light nonetheless. But the Mini is a front-wheel drive brand (not counting the Countryman), so breaking tradition and also giving an electric Mini an advantage over their top-end petrol JCW GP would be a pretty straightforward statement . Though that would be a statement we’d love to see them make …
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