Fully electric Cooper SE and beastly JCW GP have arrived.
Special Edition variants once again available across the board.
MINI Countryman gets a moderate refresh for 2021, with a bigger battery for the PHEV variant.
Just because we need a car to get from point A to be point B doesn’t mean to have to settle for a rational purchase. And yet, it doesn’t mean we have to spend a fortune on a vehicle for a little driving excitement, either. This is where MINI stands out in the automotive scenery, which is part of the BMW Group.
Although MINI vehicles aren’t exactly mini anymore, they’re not particularly big, and along with small-displacement engines to ensure their liveliness, the brand has tinkered with fully electric powertrains as well. Looking ahead, here’s what to expect from the MINI brand in 2021.
Called the MINI Hardtop 2-Door in the United States and the MINI 3-Door in Canada as well as internationally, the subcompact hatchback gets two distinct new models for 2021 which we’ll address in a second. The Hardtop 2-Door/3-Door lineup also consists of the Cooper (134-hp turbo 1.5L I3), the Cooper S (189-hp turbo 2.0L I4), available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch seven-speed automatic. Meanwhile, the John Cooper Works (228-hp turbo 2.0L I4) gets a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic. As usual, a bunch of special-edition variants are offered for 2021, including the Oxford Edition (U.S. only), the Coral Red Edition (U.S.), the Paddy Hopkirk Edition (U.S. and Canada) and the Cooper 1499 GT (U.S.).
The fully electric MINI Cooper SE is one of the new Hardtop 2-Door/3-Door variants, boasting 181 horsepower and an estimated driving range of 110 miles or 177 kilometres. It’s available from $30K in the U.S. and from $40K in Canada, applicable green-vehicle rebates notwithstanding.
Meanwhile, the limited-production MINI John Cooper Works GP features a turbo 2.0L four that belts out 301 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque, good for 0-100 km/h (0-96 mph) blasts of 5.2 seconds and a top speed of 165 mph or 265 km/h. Only 3,000 units of the GP will be manufactured for worldwide consumption, which means a few hundred for USA and a handful for Canada. In addition, MINI has recently announced that fully electric JCW models are currently in development.
The MINI Hardtop 4-Door, or MINI 5-Door, continues to be offered in base Cooper as well as Cooper S trims, with the same powertrain details as the Hardtop 2-Door/3-Door, but it doesn’t get a JCW variant. It can also be ordered as the Oxford Edition (U.S. only) and the Coral Red Edition (U.S.).
The MINI Convertible is the droptop counterpart of the Hardtop 2-Door/3-Door model, and it’s available in Cooper, Cooper S and John Cooper Works variants with similar powertrains. The Convertible features a power-operated soft top that can be partially opened to act as a simple sunroof, or rolled all the way down for open-air motoring. There’s a new Cooper S Sidewalk Edition available in the U.S. and Canada for 2021. Rumour has it that the MINI Convertible won’t get a redesign once the current generation reaches the end of its production cycle around 2024.
The MINI Clubman is a compact-sized five-door wagon, with unique dual rear doors and room for five passengers. After receiving a mid-cycle refresh for 2020 with updated styling and other enhancements, the Clubman soldiers on with minor changes this year. It’s offered in Cooper S, Cooper S ALL4 and JCW ALL4 variants in the United States, while the Canadian market gets the Cooper ALL4, the Cooper S ALL4 and the JCW ALL4. By the way, ALL4 means all-wheel drive. The base Cooper gets a 134-hp turbo 1.5L inline-three, while the Cooper S relies on a 189-hp turbo 2.0L four. Meanwhile, the JCW received a recent upgrade to a high-output 2.0L engine, with 301 horsepower on tap. The U.S. market sees a few equipment package changes and the return of a manual gearbox in the FWD Cooper S.
The MINI Countryman receives a moderate refresh consisting of new LED headlights and Union Jack LED taillights, along with a revised centre stack with an 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen. Black exterior trim, new alloy wheel designs and new paint colours are now available, and there’s a new Oxford Edition on offer in the United States. Cooper ALL4, Cooper S ALL4 and John Cooper Works ALL4 are offered in Canada, while the Cooper and Cooper S can be had in FWD guise in the U.S. As with the Clubman, the JCW Countryman now gets the 301-hp engine. There’s also the MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4, featuring a plug-in hybrid powertrain producing 224 horsepower, that benefits from a new 10-kWh battery pack (up from 7.6 kWh) that raises the EV driving range from 12 to 17 miles.
Looking ahead, the recently unveiled MINI Vision Urbanaut is a fully electric, autonomous people mover that welcomes occupants in a living room-style environment as they head to their destination. The concept also hints at the brand’s design language as its ushers in a new era of electrification.