You know the engineering timeline is compressed when you see a car testing within six months of its release. That’s what we see here thanks to MF reader Bradley who spotted the car on the Vegas strip.

While the car is fully camouflaged we do get a real-world sense of those new 17” geometric patterned wheels that will be standard on the MCSE. Don’t worry if you’re not your cup of tea however. MINI will offer other 16” and 17” MINI wheels on the MCSE. Read on for full performance details, pricing estimation and release info.

2020 MINI Cooper SE – Drivetrain

No surprise here it’s based on the i3s which produces 181 horsepower motor and 94 Ah with a 33 kilowatt battery. Interestingly the 441 lbs battery is a 96-cell lithium-ion from CATL and not Samsung

The entire electric drivetrain is designed to for fit more or less where the standard ICE unit is on standard MINIs. MINI USA representatives have told us that, while the engineering investment was relatively low, MINI leveraged the engineering prowess from BMWi and then knowledge that has been built up over the past decade in EV design.

2020 MINI Cooper SE – Range and Performance

One of the outcomes of this change from ICE to electric is weight distribution which is now 50/50. According to those who have driven it, this allows the MCSE to behave at the limit slightly differently than a standard front wheel drive F56. Off the record we’ve been told that this all electric Cooper S could for the basis of an excellent autox car.

It would appear that the range will be 120 miles given what we know about the drivetrain of the i3s. In our recent testing we also found the i3s to be fairly quick. Officially it tops out at 100 mph and does 0-62 in 7.7 seconds.

The MINI Cooper S E recently caught undisguised at an NYC photo shoot.

2020 MINI Cooper SE – Charging Time

According to MINI, the Cooper SE take 40 minutes for an 80 percent charge when hooked up to a 50 kW D/C charger. But lets talk real world. In our testing of the i3s with its near identical drivetrain, charging from 0-100% on a normal outlet takes 8-12 hours. On a quick (Level 2) charger that’s 4-5 hours.

But what about the all new Level 3? That’s where the i3 starts to make some sense. Level 3 DC fast chargers can recharge the i3 battery up to 80% in as little as 20 minutes (80-100% slows to protect the battery from overcharging). It’s interesting that that number differs slightly from the 40 minutes MINI is quoting. Perhaps there are more differences between these two cars yet to be uncovered?

The MINI Cooper S E recently caught undisguised at an NYC photo shoot.

2020 MINI Cooper S E – US Availability

In the US we’ll see the MCSE at dealers in “early 2020” according to MINI USA. MINI has hinted at pricing being similar to an automatic Cooper S which is typically around $29,000. While it won’t compare with EV leaders in terms of range vs price, it will offer a different level of driver engagement and design compared to the Chevrolet Bolt or the Nissan Leaf.

MINI USA Head of Sales Claude Bruni made it clear that there’s a genuine enthusiasm for the MCSE for those that have sampled it. He described it as not just another EV but “it’s truly a Cooper S electrified”.

He also went on to clarify that there will be no loss in capacity for other models and that MINI USA is committed to bringing the right amount of cars to the US to satisfy demand. When I pressed him on how hard it might be to get a MCSE at launch he clarified “if we bring too few, we’ll ask for more”.

He went on to say that MINI USA is committed to making the Cooper SE as high a volume car as it can be.