The all new (electric) J01 MINI Cooper and (petrol) F66 MINI Cooper. They look nearly identical at first glance but share nothing beyond a circular screen and logos. But just how different are these cars? We went dBut just how different are these cars in size and shape? And what do they look like in person? We went deep into the data and hands-on and found some surprising facts.

F66 MINI Cooper J01 MINI Cooper

First let’s start with a simple question. Why did MINI create two new Coopers? The idea is that MINI wants consumers to have “the power of choice” as they say. But designing and engineering a new cars is incredibly costly so instead they focused on creating an all new electric MINI Cooper (J01) fully optimized and on an all new EV architecture. For the petrol version they turned to the now venerable F56 chassis (the UKL) and thoroughly refreshed and redesigned attempting to match the J01 in styling and tech. The result is the F66 MINI Cooper. But despite their visual similarities and due to their different origins, there are countless differences.

F66 MINI Cooper J01 MINI Cooper

Exterior Dimensions: J01 MINI Cooper SE vs F66 MINI Cooper S

First let’s take a look at the exterior dimensions of the J01 and the F66. We’ve also included the F66 predecessor the F56 to give provide a baseline for a car we all know.

Dimensions2024 J01 MINI Cooper SE2024 F66 MINI Cooper S2023 F56 MINI Cooper S
Curb Weight (w/driver)1680 kg / 3704 lbs1360 kg / 2998 lbs1289 kg / 2866 lbs
Wheelbase2526 mm 2495mm / 98.23 in2495mm / 98.23 in
Minimum turning circle10.8 m / 35.411.1 m / 36.4 ft10.8 m / 35.4
Overhang front746 mm 778 mm / 30.6775 mm / 30.5″
Overhang rear 586 mm / 23″603 mm / 23.7609.6 / 24″
Vehicle height1460 mm / 54.4″1432 mm / 56.4″1415 mm / 55.7″
Vehicle length3858 mm / 151.6″3876mm / 152.63863mm / 152.8″
Vehicle width1756 mm / 69.1″1744 mm / 68.6″1727 mm / 67.9″
Vehicle width w/mirrors: 1967 mm / 77.41970 mm / 77.6″1928 mm / 75.9″
Ground Clearance124 mm 130 mm143 mm
Larger numbers are bolded. All measurements are taken from the EU market. Note that there are some differences in the way the US measures weight vs the EU.

As you can see there are some fascinating differences in the car’s exterior demotions. But first let’s look at the weight. Not surprisingly the electric J01 is substantially heavier due to the battery pack. While this weight is very low on the skateboard chassis, it’s still a massive difference and one we’ll be curious about when we finally get a chance to drive these cars back to back.

Dimensionally things are all over the place. To make it easier, we’ve bolded the larger numbers above so you can easily see which of the two Coopers are larger in various ways. As you can see each car is quite a bit different. As expected the wheelbase is larger and the front and rear overhangs are smaller on the J01 EV. Because of those larger overhangs the F66 is longer. However with the new platform on the J01, MINI was able to widen the new electric Cooper slightly. And all of this has implications for what’s inside.

F66 MINI Cooper J01 MINI Cooper

Interior Dimensions: J01 MINI Cooper SE vs F66 MINI Cooper S

The tweaks MINI has made to the exterior dimensions of the J01 directly relate to what we see inside; more room. Despite bring fractionally shorter, the electric J01 MINI Cooper is larger in almost every category.

Dimensions2024 J01 MINI Cooper SE2024 F66 MINI Cooper S2023 F56 MINI Cooper S
Head room1018 mm / 40″1024 mm / 40.3″1024 mm / 40.3″
Head room w/sunroof991 mm / 39″973 mm / 38.3″973 mm / 38.3″
Shoulder room1317 mm / 51.81301 mm 51.21285 mm / 50.6
Leg room1053 mm / 41.5″1052 mm / 41.4″1052 mm / 41.4″
Elbow width1390 mm / 54.71365 mm / 53.7″
Center of steering wheel to seat2141 mm / 84.3″2120 mm / 83.4″2120 mm / 83.4″
Luggage seats down800 l / 28.3 ft³725 l / 25.6 ft³ 731 / 25.8 ft³
Luggage seats up210 l 7.4 ft³210 l / 7.4 ft³211 / 7.5 ft³
Larger numbers are bolded. Note every market measures dimensions and volume slightly differently. We’ve based these numbers on the EU figures to remain consistent. MINI USA quotes slightly different numbers in luggage capacity due to EPA standards. There is no difference between regions.

Due to the J01 being so aero focused, designers have made the entire car slightly lower in height. And despite the simpler, non-functional sunroof there’s slightly less headroom. But that’s the only place where the J01 gives up space. Elsewhere there’s more shoulder, elbow, leg and even seat room.

Hands-on with the J01 and the F66 MINI Coopers

In person the two cars share striking similarities on the surface with seismic differences lurking beneath. The J01 MINI Cooper and a ground-up EV which means it’s all new and designed with a skateboard chassis as a starting point. This allowed MINI to massage the dimensions (as you see above) maximizing space inside. Beyond the numbers this has always (subtly) altered the look of the car. It’s not something you recognize in photos but in person it’s striking. Especially when you see the two next to each-other.

The first thing that was starring us in the face was the altered geometry of the J01. The cowl (where the windshield meets the bonnet) is further forward allowing the windshield to be more angled. This was critical in allowing the J01 to have a dramatic increase in aero efficiency. This was a big part of how MINI was able to reduce the drag co-effecient from 0.34 on the F56 down to only 0.26. For an upright small car that number is rather astounding. 

F66 MINI Cooper J01 MINI Cooper

The more you look the more you see changes driven by the wind. If you could look from directly above the J01 you’d also notice a more tapered rear of the car where the F66 is much more square. This is especially evident if you stand just off the rear taillights looking towards the front of the car. 

The clamshell bonnet is gone thanks to pedestrian safety standards and the plastic wheel arches have been eliminated due to drag. The windshield wipers are now entirely hidden in the cowl as the result of both safety and aero. 

Looking at the F66, MINI has taken incredible steps to mirror these changes but couldn’t fundamentally change the shape. Luckily those changes satisfied the brief as MINI didn’t necessarily need to decrease drag on the petrol car. Instead the focus was creating a MINI that looked (to the average consumer) nearly identical to the electric model.

F66 MINI Cooper J01 MINI Cooper

A Small and a Big Weight Change

One of the biggest critiques of modern MINI is that they appear to be getting larger and heavier with every generation. That’s actually not historically true. The R50 (manual) had a DIN weight of 2,535 lbs which then decreased to 2,513 with the R56 Cooper (manual). While that weight finally did go up with the noticeably larger F56, it wasn’t as much as most assumed. The F56’s DIN weight is 2,701 lbs in manual form and 2,756 with the DCT. Given that the F66 will only be available with the DCT, let’s compare those two numbers.

The F56 Cooper DCT weights in at 2,866 lbs. The new F66 Cooper DCT has a curb weight of 2,943 lbs, a 77 lbs difference. Given the added emissions and safety additions (and not to mention the new tech), a 77 lbs increase doesn’t seem insane. And as much as this article isn’t about performance stats, it’s important to remember that the new F66 like a win in a world of 6,000 SUVs.

Where the real weight gain has happened is on the J01. As expected, the the larger battery in the new SE makes it heavier than the first generation SE. But the difference is still pretty stark. The new J01 MINI Cooper SE weighs 1605 kg / 3,538 lbs vs the F56 MINI Cooper S which weighed 1440 kg / 3175 lbs. That’s a 363 lbs weight gain in a small car. But the trade-off might be worth it. That weight gains gets you double the range (approximately 250 miles) than we saw out of the original SE.

F66 MINI Cooper J01 MINI Cooper

F66 & J01 MINI Cooper Launch Details 

The F66 MINI Cooper is now in production and began reach UK and EU dealers in late March. The rest of the world should see cars in mid to late April. The US will likely see an on-sale date in early May as its production will begin in late March and early April.

The J01 has seen early production already at EU and UK dealers but those are strictly demo cars. Production began in earlier this year with official sales commencing in most of the world (other than the US and Canada) in early May.