This year will prove to be the busiest yet for BMW’s small-car brand with the new model debuts coming one after the other.

So far we have seen major facelifts for the FAAR platform three- (F65) and five-door (F66) petrol-powered hatchbacks as well as a made-in-China EV (J01) equivalent which comes only as a three-door and sits on a Great Wall-BMW shared architecture.

The JCW version of F65 is due soon while F67, a restyle of the Convertible, also debuts later in 2024. It will be petrol-only and built in England from 2025 alongside its IC-engined brothers. And whilst the EV is made solely in the People’s Republic, the petrol-fuelled cars are manufactured exclusively in Britain.

Cooper, Aceman, Countryman – the Mini line-up

One more new Mini coming this year is to be positioned above these small models and below new U25 series Countryman. This, the Aceman is a 4.1 m long crossover. As with the new J01 Cooper 3-Door, it will be EV-only. Is it a replacement for the Clubman, the estate which went out of production in February? No, that model was a fair bit bigger and will not be replaced.

BMW must realise that having two similar looking sub-4m long three-door cars might be confusing for buyers. Not to mention the need to explain why there will not be electric power for the cabrio and five-door cars.

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All small models are now called Mini Cooper with the one powered by a battery termed Mini Cooper Electric. Though technically that should be batteries as there are two capacity choices.

Decent space for (two only) rear-seat occupants

Another difference is seating capacity, with the electric (and petrol 3 Door) variants having spaces for only four occupants. Still, there is a lot more room in the back of the new three-door Cooper Electric than the old-shape model. At just 211 litres the boot remains small, an issue which affects the combustion-engine cars too.

The new EV is presently being launched in Britain and unlike the recently revamped unleaded cars, this one really is 100 per cent fresh. As noted above, the platform isn’t even a BMW AG one, instead being reportedly (heavily) adapted from a Great Wall Motor matrix.

EV an import from China, IC made only in England

Spotlight Automotive, the JV between the German and Chinese OEMs, was created six years ago. So the new Cooper Electric has taken quite some time to arrive. All cars are presently built at a plant in Zhangjiagang but that changes in 2026 when EVs also begin rolling off the line at the historic Cowley works.

The Aceman – remember it too is electric-only – will also be made at ‘BMW Plant Oxford’ commencing around the same time. For now, it is manufactured in the same Jiangsu province factory as the Cooper Electric.

Three models, three countries of build

There is also now a third country where Minis are made: the new Countryman and Countryman Electric are put together in Leipzig alongside UKL2 platform BMW vehicles. This is not only the first Group site to build models for two brands but also the first time Minis have been produced in Germany.

All of the above detail is necessary to show not just how important the electric era is rapidly becoming for Mini but how much change is underway for the brand. BMW is also smart enough to know that many people will prefer a petrol-powered car for some years yet.

Cooper 5 Door remains petrol-only

Customers who default to liquid fuel must not think of their Cooper (or Countryman) as anything other than state of the art, BMW realises. And this during a time when electric cars seem to be taking the tech-lead. In any case, there is no such car as a Cooper 5 Door Electric.

The new Cooper 5 Door – it arrives in August – will find a potentially big audience amongst owners of the outgoing model keen to trade in. Particularly when it does look substantially different. Glance at the door handles though and you see the whole car is a major facelift with a totally fresh interior too. The EV and IC cars also have differences at the front end but at the back the new tail-lights are close to identical.

Two motor and two battery choices

In Britain, the new Cooper Electric comes in three model grades called Classic, Exclusive and Sport. There are then the same number of option packs rather than individually-priced extras. These too have simple names, being Level 1 (heated front seats, head-up display, auto high-beam etc), Level 2 (Level 1 plus a Harmon Kardon sound system, glass roof, dark back windows) and Level 3. The combination of 1 and 2 makes up Level 3, along with other equipment such as a navigation system, electric front seats and an interior camera.

So we have one body, base, mid-spec and JCW-style sports grades plus bundles of extras. However, BMW also lets you choose one of two battery and motor combinations. The 36.6/40.7 kWh net/gross one powers a 135 kW (184 PS) and 290 Nm (214 lb-ft) motor, this being the Cooper Electric E.

If you prefer more oomph and range, then you will need to go for the Cooper Electric SE. This brings a 49.2/54.2 kWh battery plus a motor with outputs of 160 kW (218 PS) and 329 Nm (244 lb-ft). Every car has a one-speed transmission sending torque to the front axle.

We don’t yet know the specifics of an electric John Cooper Works but this model will be added later in 2024, as will a petrol-powered JCW.

Motor and cells packs – which suppliers?

BMW has not named its motor or battery suppliers but the E and SE for the Chinese market – where the car is launched later this month – are respectively Bosch and SVOLT. The latter is a subsidiary of Great Wall Motor. And yes, build did commence back in October 2023 (just after the Cooper Electric debuted at the Frankfurt motor show) so all production until June was for export.

There are so many electric cars, SUVs and MPVs where the looks are great and the technology state of the art but the driving experience far from memorable. Not in this case. BMW Group has really taken things up several notches compared to the old-shape electric Cooper. In short, the little car is capital F Fun.

Battery ranges

For many people, the E has enough range (up to 190 miles WLTP or 249 for the SE) and should you stay away from the temptations of option packs, the pricing is refreshingly affordable. Standard equipment is quite good too – this even includes steering wheel heating. All the EC-mandated safety gear which is compulsory for any passenger car registered in an EU market after 7 July is also standard in the UK.

Yet another new EV with everything on a screen?

Perceived material and build quality are premium, the interior is free of animal skins and the knitted-plastic dash covering we know already from the new Countryman also features. In fact there are many other things in common with that larger SUV, such as a huge circular OLED screen, heavy-feel doors and loads of stowage space.

Joyously, for those who prefer physical controls to fiddly screens and menus, the Cooper Electric has many delights. These include a volume dial plus toggles for ignition ON/OFF and Experiences (colour and functionality options for the screen). Forward and reverse motion are controlled by a little lever (R-N-D/B) with Park a button to its right. Simple. And, everything works at the first attempt.

Flick the Experiences switch left to Go Kart and the little car becomes genuinely thrilling. Yes there is some steering fidget at full throttle off the mark but this is a small price to pay for all that yummy torque. Plus it soon settles down. And BMW has given this mode a novel sound which made me grin. Yes me, whose own car has a V8.


Year by year, month by month, new EVs are steadily getting ever better in all sorts of ways. Not only how they sound or steer or accelerate or how long they last between charges. This little hatchback is quite a hoot and unlike its gorgeous but pricier 500e rival, the Cooper Electric will go farther in most conditions. If only it offered the canvas roof option of the Abarth. Even without that choice, the Mini is a major advance on the old model and a new standard for small premium brand EVs.

The new Mini Cooper E (from GBP30,000 OTR) and Cooper SE (from GBP34,500) are launched this month.