The MINI Cooper SE vs Classic: Which Comes Out on Top?

Many believe the MINI brand is the perfect fit for electrification. The electric motors’ snappy, torquey power output aligns perfectly with the brand’s tight, nimble, and jovial demeanour. MINI’s new electric Cooper SE is a testament to this. Also, it’s no surprise that Top Gear was eager to compare the two models. Both models come together for a head-to-head test. They could see just how well the electric Cooper SE stacks up against its classic counterpart.

The “original” Mini in this test is a 2000 model, not the 1950s. Mechanically speaking, it is largely the same. Until the 1990s, classic Minis were produced practically in their original shape. They then took a short hiatus until BMW acquired Rover and all the associated brands. This includes Mini and brought back the vintage for just 500 limited-edition cars before the inauguration of the new MINI brand. Of those 500, the car in this test was number 306.

How do the two vehicles contrast? They are remarkably similar. The two cars are entirely different on paper, save from the apparent distinction that the new one is battery-electric and the old one has a vintage four-cylinder engine the size of my shoe. The new MINI is about twice as big, roughly 1,500 lbs heavier. It also has a different seating position and is far more opulent and technologically advanced. Top Gear claims the two cars’ motions on the road, though, feel remarkably similar.

Indeed, the old Mini used in this test wasn’t the ideal choice. The subsequent cars felt bloated because of all the extras crammed inside them. They added additional gauges, air conditioning, and modern heater cores. Larger dashboards also add up to a vehicle without any of those features. Does that make this test less valid? No, there is still a very noticeable similarity between contemporary MINIs and vintage models that will undoubtedly endure even after the new cars convert to electric power.

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