CARmag.co.za has learnt the starting price for the new Mini Cooper SE, which is set to become South Africa’s least expensive electric car.

Interestingly, the news comes well ahead of the Cooper SE’s scheduled local introduction either late in 2020 or early in 2021.

So, how much are we looking at here? Well, the Cooper SE is down to be priced from R589 000. Not an insignificant amount, of course, but less expensive than the only two fully electric options currently on the market in SA: the BMW i3 (starting from R664 000) and the Jaguar I-Pace (kicking off at R1 717 300). Of course, plenty can happen between now and early 2021, so we wouldn't be surprised if this figure ended up being adjusted closer to launch.

For the sake of comparison, the three-door Cooper S hatchback costs R480 500, while upgrading to the JCW model takes the price to R550 000. The fully electric Cooper SE thus slots in above these two performance models.

As a reminder, the three-door Cooper SE’s lithium-ion battery enables a claimed range of between 235 and 270 km. The 32,6 kWh battery can be charged at a household socket, wallbox or public charging station, with fast direct-current charging possible at up to 50 kW.

Its electric motor offers 135 kW and 270 N.m to the front wheels via a single-speed transmission (and an integrated differential), facilitating a sprint from zero to 60 km/h in a claimed 3,9 seconds and from standstill to 100 km/h in a claimed 7,3 seconds. Top speed is limited to 150 km/h.

The positioning of the battery pack means the Cooper SE is able to offer the same luggage space as the conventionally powered three-door model: a claimed 211 litres, expanding to 731 litres with the rear bench folded down.

The only “measurable difference”, according to the automaker? The Cooper SE rides 18 mm higher to ensure sufficient ground clearance for the high-voltage battery. Well, that and the fact the electric model is some 145 kg heavier than the three-door model (with an automatic transmission), tipping the scales at 1 365 kg.