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Established electric vehicle (EV) models claim ranges of over 500 miles, and others can sprint from zero to 60 mph in under two seconds. While these are exciting numbers aimed to sway buyers to a particular brand, practicality keeps budget-minded drivers bound to the gas station. As EVs become increasingly popular, Mini enters the race with a history of producing fuel-efficient cars to deliver the most efficient subcompact EV.

An electric vehicle (EV) charging station parking spot at a car park in Bath, England
An electric vehicle (EV) charging station parking spot | Matt Cardy/Getty Images

The most efficient subcompact EV

Based on data provided by, the Mini Cooper SE Hardtop two-door EV is the most efficient subcompact for 2023 with its combined city and highway EPA-estimated 100 MPGe.

The Mini Cooper SE first appeared in 2020 with the typical Mini style and the same electric motor as the BMWi3 says Car and Driver. That first iteration featured a 110-mile all-electric range with a price nearing $31,000, and for 2023, not much is different with its 114-mile range and starting price around $35,000, according to Mini.

Although the Cooper SE’s driving range is admittedly short, it can recharge to 80% in 36 minutes at a 50 kW Fast DC Charging station. With a Level 2 charging station at home or in public, the Cooper SE battery gains 20%t per hour for a fully charged battery overnight or while the kids are in school.

While the Mini Cooper SE doesn’t provide the breath-taking acceleration of some EVs, its single electric motor with 181 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque does deliver “100-percent Mini driving excitement” with zero to 60 mph acceleration in 6.9 seconds. 

The 2023 Mini Cooper SE

In addition to the 2023 Mini Cooper SE’s short driving range, the efficient little subcompact’s cabin allowed too much road noise inside according to some critics. It also tended to lose power during testing under sustained loads like climbing mountains.

However, for the price, they found it well-equipped with lively handling and the same interior space as the non-electric Mini Cooper Hardtop. 

For 2023, the Mini Cooper SE adds Apple CarPlay, but not Android Auto, and new paint and upholstery options, including the new “Resolute Edition” color scheme. Along with Apple CarPlay, the SE’s standard interior features heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, LED headlights, and an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

Upgrades include:

  • A head-up display.
  • A premium audio system.
  • Wireless electronic device charging.
  • Navigation.

As a bonus, the Mini Cooper SE’s optional navigation system can locate nearby charging stations. 

There are some compelling rivals

While the Mini Cooper SE doesn’t sacrifice any interior space compared to its non-electric Hardtop counterpart, it suffers compared to some rivals. The Chevy Bolt EV, for example, has 57 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row of seats and 16.6 cubic feet behind the second row compared to the Cooper SE’s 34 cubic feet and 8.7 cubic feet values for the same areas.

Although the Chevy Bolt isn’t necessarily a subcompact, it could be a better choice as a small, efficient EV, with its lower $26,500 starting price, 120 MPGe EPA rating, and a 259-mile range.


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