Cars, EVs and Alternative Fuel, Hybrids, International News, MINI

2020 MINI Cooper SE – more technical details revealed


In July 2019, MINI introduced its first ever electric car, the Cooper SE. Technically, the automaker’s first EV was the MINI E which debuted in 2008, but that car was a strict two-seater (the battery pack took up most of the rear space) and production was limited to just 500 units for private leases.

The new Cooper SE, on the other hand, can be purchased by just about anyone who wishes to ride on the new-age mobility bandwagon. It actually sits on the same UKL platform that underpins the 3-Door and 5-Door hatches, so dimensions, weight, design proportions, and interior space are more or less identical. These are exactly what the MINI team strived to keep, by the way.

It should also be known that the UKL platform became the base for BMW’s FAAR platform, which was designed from the outset to accommodate hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric powertrains for its compact cars. Introducing the Cooper SE at the end of the F56’s life may not seem like a good strategy, but let’s just say it’s better having it made now than later, especially with all the post-Brexit uncertainties.

The recipe for the Cooper SE is simple – take the heart of the BMW i3s and flip it for a front-wheel drive application (the i3s is rear-driven and the transverse electric motor is fitted at the back). The compact electric motor, which has integrated power electronics and single-stage transmission, is held in place by a solid tube structure. It also weighs less compared to a conventional engine.

What’s new is the T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack, which has been designed to maximise the underfloor space vacated by the exhaust system, and thus is unique only to the Cooper SE. The gross energy content is 32.6 kWh (net content is 28.9 kWh; 350.4 volt), and a solid base plate protects it from the damaging effects of road debris. Should the car get into an accident, an automatic failsafe function immediately switches off all drive components. Other vital electronics are also shielded by reinforced bumper support.

As an extra step of precaution, the car’s height is raised by 18 mm to provide more ground clearance for the battery, and the only visual evidence of this the wider gap between the tyre and the wheel arch. In all, MINI says the Cooper SE weighs 145 kg heavier (1,365 kg) than the Cooper S 3 Door with Steptronic transmission, but its centre of gravity is lower, and perhaps affects weight distribution for the better as well.

Now for the numbers. The electric system provides 184 hp (135 kW) at 7,000 rpm and 270 Nm of torque from 100 to 1,000 rpm, figures which are close to the Cooper S’ 192 hp/280 Nm output. Being a city car, outright performance takes a step back in favour of daily usability and range, although peak acceleration remains impressive – the nought to 60 km/h sprint is achieved in 3.9 seconds, but 0-100 km/h is nearly double that at 7.3 seconds.

There’s still lots of pep for when the roads clear up. MINI says getting from 80 km/h to 120 km/h takes just 4.6 seconds, but the top speed is capped at 150 km/h. For those wondering, this is as hot as the Cooper SE gets. There won’t be an electric JCW model in the near future, and we’re told that the electric motor is currently at its peak potential. We daren’t ask more for a city car, to be frank.

What you’ll get is decent urban mileage, or up to 270 km to be exact. Charging tech is identical to the i3s, and there’s an 11 kW onboard AC charger with a Type 2 connection. Charging can be done via a 7.4 kW single-phase AC outlet, but this takes 4.2 hours (or 3.2 hours to 80%), the longest needed for a full charge.

When plugged into a the MINI Electric Wallbox (11 kW three-phase), a full charge requires 3.5 hours or 2.5 hours from 0 to 80% charge. DC fast-charging is also supported (via CCS Combo 2 connection), although only up to 50 kW. Here, it takes just 35 minutes to get 80% from flat, or 1.4 hours from 0 to 100% charge.

There’s brake regeneration as well, with two thresholds (-0.19 m/s/s and -0.11 m/s/s) – to choose from. The former allows drivers to experience single-pedal driving (it decelerates more aggressively), while the latter feels more like a natural deceleration in combustion engined cars. There’s no switch to turn this off, so just keep that in mind.

The suspension is also very much similar to the regular Cooper S. The front is managed by a single-joint McPherson strut with aluminium swivel bearing and anti-dive control, while the rear gets a multi-link setup with weight-optimised trailing arms. No adaptive dampers here, and the Cooper S’ Passive Sport Suspension (makes the Cooper SE slightly more comfortable) is omitted as well.

For design, the Cooper SE is differentiated by the psychedelic highlights which adorn the closed radiator grille, side mirror caps, scuttle plates, alloy wheels, and tailgate decors. Standard wheel size is 16 inches, but this can be upgraded to larger 17-inch items which are unique to the electric model only (pictured here). Those who don’t fancy the design can opt for any 17-inch alloys available on the 3 Door and 5 Door models.

Step inside and you’ll be greeted with a largely familiar cabin. To start, the instrument panel is brand new, featuring a 5.5-inch digital instrument display with the similar bright yellow theme. The display itself is coated with a matte finish, which cuts out reflections. This provides info such as battery charge level, selected drive mode, available range, and basic multimedia info.

Other touches unique to the Cooper SE are the yellow start-stop ignition toggle, eDrive mode (Sport, Mid, Green, and Green+), yellow topstitching, and floor mats with MINI Electric embroidery (the last two is part of the Interior Style MINI Electric option). Standard kit includes LED headlamps, dual-zone climate control with pre-conditioning (via MINI Connected), and 6.5-inch Connected Navigation system (upgradable to 8.8-inch Connected Navigation Plus with wireless charging tray in the armrest).

As mentioned earlier, cabin space is unaffected by the switch to electric propulsion, and so is the boot space. There’s still 211 litres of space, enough to fit a couple of luggages, and the rear seats fold flat (60:40 split; both seats come with Isofix anchor points) to provide 731 litres of space.

Lastly, for safety, there’s a hydraulic twin-circuit brake system with ABS, Cornering Brake Control, DSC with brake assistant, hill start assist, brake dry function, fading brake support, electronic differential lock control, and performance control. There’s no hardware to enable more advanced features like autonomous emergency braking or active cruise control with braking function, and it’s unclear if there will ever be. So, anyone looking forward to this?

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Audi, BMW, Cars, Feature Stories, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, MINI, Porsche, Volvo

2019 year in review and what’s to come in 2020 – tough year for Mercedes-Benz and BMW, but Volvo soars


Having looked at how the national carmakers and Japanese brands fared in 2019, we continue on the year that was with the premium brands. It was a mixed year for players in the segment, with most of the activity coming from the German marques, as expected. The usual duo led the way in with the introductions this year, but it was a bumper year for the four rings as well.

Things were however a whole lot quieter for many players, and although this will change in 2020 for some, it doesn’t look rosy for at least one.

A slew of Audis. Really?

The brand that has always played bridesmaid to the two other Germans made a real go of it this year, introducing no less than 10 models in 2019. Amazing, really, when you consider how quiet it has been in recent years, with only the occasional low-key introduction to signal that it was still around.

The action started in March with the debut of four vehicles, three of which were new. The Q7 received a specification update, but it was the Q2, Q5 and Q8 that made for the news, with their arrival significantly bumping up the Audi SUV count in the country at a go. The second-gen Q3, meanwhile, joined the party late in the year.

Sedans – and fastbacks – were not forgotten in the rare Audi blitz. April saw the introduction of the A3 Sedan, with the C8-generation A6 and D5 A8L entering the showrooms in June before making their working debut in August. Elsewhere, the second-gen F5 A5 Sportback and the C8 A7 Sportback went on preview for a bit before they made they were officially launched.

That’s quite a haul from Ingolstadt. Whether Euromobil continues to play aggressive in 2020 remains to be seen, but Audi fans surely won’t complain if it does. In terms of what’s coming, the facelifted B9 A4 should be one of the highlights next year.

Monthly debuts from BMW

BMW Malaysia started out their campaign in January with two M Performance Editions, which essentially signed out the F30 330e and F15 X5 xDrive40e, and these were each limited to 300 units. Next up, the G20 3 Series, which arrived as a CBU 330i in March, and its debut also saw a full catalogue of M Performance parts being introduced.

The same month saw the debut of the G15 8 Series, and a month later, to show that the G30 5 Series wasn’t forgotten, the company brought the 520i Luxury and 530e M Sport variants into the market. The all-electric i3s was also launched in April, but final pricing was only announced in August.

In May, the G02 X4 M Sport went the CKD route (pricing revealed in June), and the G05 X5 and F39 X2 M35i went on preview, ahead of their official pricing being announced in July. The F87 M2 Competition was next up to bat in June, making its debut in Sepang, and this was followed by the X7 SUV in July.

The month also saw the G29 Z4 sDrive 30i and facelifted G12 7 Series being announced, the latter continuing on with a 740Le xDrive badge designation. In September, another variant was added to the G01 X3 range in the form of an xDrive30i M Sport model, and the G20 3 Series went the CKD route, retaining the 330i variant.

Models to look forward to in 2020 are likely to include the F40 1 Series, the F48 X1 facelift, G06 X6 and Munich’s answer to the CLA, the F44 2 Series Gran Coupe. The G20 3 Series range will also expand with the upcoming 320i, although there’s still no word on when the 330e plug-in hybrid will arrive, or whether it is even coming. Guess we’ll know in 2020.

Lexus rolls on, while Infiniti stalls

It wasn’t until June that Lexus Malaysia got into the swing of things with the refreshed NX 300, in three variant forms (Urban, Premium and F Sport). The facelift has been around since 2018, but the latest update adds on kit such as Lexus Safety System + while lowering prices.

The seventh-generation ES sedan made its debut as an ES 250 model in September, in two trim levels, Premium and Luxury. The same month saw the RX facelift making its way to Malaysia, with the RX 300 going on sale in Premium, Luxury and F Sport guise.

The coming year will see the introduction of the UX, which was first seen here in 2018 when it was previewed at KLIMS. At that point Lexus Malaysia said there were no plans to bring it in, but it looks like that has changed, and the SUV is slated for our market.

No cheer however for its fellow automaker Infiniti. With the brand languishing globally and in the midst of a restructuring (which will see it exit Europe completely and focus on the United States and China), it’s no surprise that the turnout of new models this year locally was zilch. The brand remains in the country, but with the KL showroom having closed (operations have been moved back to Edaran Tan Chong Motor premises), one wonders how long before the carmaker calls it quits in Malaysia.

The tristar juggernaut chugs along

As 2019 draws to a close, and unless something dramatic takes place in the sales charts, it looks like Mercedes-Benz Malaysia will still hold on to its best-seller title for another year, edging out BMW once more. However, this year won’t be like 2018, because the overall numbers are down for both – up to November, MAA figures reveal that Mercedes sales are down by 24% and BMW, down by 19.6%, year-on-year.

It hasn’t been for a lack of trying or products, with the introduction of new cards at every opportunity continuing to be very much the game plan. The ball started rolling with the introduction of the W213 E350, equipped with the automaker’s new M264 engine, in March. The E200 Sportstyle and E300 Exclusive, bearing new engines and kit, were also launched at that point. The same month also saw the pre-facelift C253 GLC 300 making its debut.

Next to arrive was the V177 A-Class Sedan in A200 and A250 forms. This was followed by the Mercedes-AMG C63S Sedan and Coupe facelifts, along with the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe, which went on sale here in GT 43, GT 53 and GT 63S 4Matic+ forms. Then, the W222 S 560 e PHEV came along in June at the same evebt that gave the all-electric EQC its ASEAN debut.

The AMG A35 Sedan was introduced in September, and October was a busy month for the brand, with the W247 B-Class, C190 Mercedes-AMG GT R and GT C facelifts and X156 GLA 200 Style being introduced to the market. Rounding off the new product list for 2019 was the X253 GLC and C253 GLC Coupe facelifts, which were launched earlier this month. The refreshed SUVs also debuted Mercedes me connect, which will make its way on to upcoming models.

Expect no let-up in the introductions in 2020. Among these will be the second-gen C118 CLA, H247 GLA, X247 GLB, C167 GLE Coupe and the W213 E-Class facelift. The EQC is also slated to arrive in 2020.

MINI adventures continue

The brand’s first product introduction this year was the F60 Cooper S Countryman Pure in April. This was followed by the F57 Cooper S Convertible in July. The latter was a small scale outing, with a run limited to only 20 units.

Nothing like a commemorative edition to evoke nostalgia (and add to sales), and that was certainly the case when the 60 Years Edition popped up in August. The model is a 60-unit limited-edition offering based on the Cooper S 3 Door hatch.

Elsewhere, the F54 Clubman facelift premiered in November, going on sale here in sole Cooper S form. The John Cooper Works Clubman and Countryman were also unveiled at the same time. The next year should see the MINI Electric among the new introductions heading to our shores.

Short but Swede

There were only two new Volvos coming our way this year, and both arrived towards the tail-end of it, but despite this the Swedish brand has been gaining traction – up to November, it sold 1,691 cars, 32% up from the 1,279 units it had achieved by the same time last year. Doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider that the German brands will sell less this year than in 2018, it’s a big plus on the brand’s report card.

The much-awaited third-generation S60 finally made its way here in October, going on sale in solitary T8 R-Design guise. While initial units are fully imported (CBU), local assembly is set to start later on, with no changes expected in the specifications when CKD production begins.

The XC90 facelift was the other, the refresh bringing about minor design tweaks, new kit and a bigger battery for the T8 Twin Engine, which increases the pure electric driving range, all accomplished without raising the price from before. The brand also introduced a leather dashboard for the T8 versions of the S90, XC60 and pre-facelift XC90 in August.

No new cats, nothing roving on the ground either

With no new product introductions in the past 12 months, Jaguar Land Rover Malaysia continued to sell what it had in 2019, but there should be a fair bit of activity next year. On the Jaguar front, while the I-Pace has been teased on the local website, it surely won’t be the next in.

That honour should go to the E-Pace – the SUV, first seen locally at our PACE 2018 event, was sighted in the country earlier this month, so it shouldn’t be long before it finally makes its long-awaited local debut. It will be joined by the second-gen Range Rover Evoque, which was previewed at PACE 2019, and was spotted this month undergoing vehicle type approval (VTA).

As for the new Land Rover Defender, don’t hold your breath too long waiting for it to show up that fast – any sign of it will likely be well into the second half of the year at the earliest, given that Australia only gets it in June. High right-hand drive demand might also delay timelines.

Taycan get it out fast enough

No shortage of ground activities – and customer engagement – in Sepang this year for Porsche, but in terms of product launches things were rather on the quiet side. The biggest bang was the introduction of the 992-generation 911 in July, the eighth-gen making its local debut in Carrera S and 4S guise.

Two versions of the Macan facelift were also introduced, the base 2.0 litre in June and the Macan S in August. Earlier in the year, Sime Darby Auto Performance revealed a 15-unit, limited-run 718 Cayman SportDesign edition for the Malaysian market.

Models due next year should include the Cayenne Coupe, but all eyes are of course on the new all-electric Taycan. We do know its set to arrive in 2020, but now we know around when – it’s due in around eight months. According to the folks at Porsche Asia Pacific, the first examples for Malaysia are due sometime in August, and we’ll be getting the Turbo and Turbo S first, well ahead of the entry-level 4S.

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Cars, International News, MINI

2019 MINI John Cooper Works GP set to debut in LA


With the Los Angeles Auto Show set to take place in just a few days, MINI has announced that it will reveal the production version of the new John Cooper Works GP at the event. The model was first previewed by a similarly-named concept back in 2017 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

As this is meant to be the fastest road-legal MINI ever, the hot hatch employs a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with around 300 hp. The mill will be paired with an automatic transmission, although it isn’t known if all-wheel drive or a manual option will be offered.

Earlier this year, the carmaker dropped several photos of the JCW GP as it underwent final development testing, giving us a good look at the car’s styling. While not as flamboyant as the concept that previewed it, the end product isn’t what you would call subtle.

The front end sports a deep front spoiler and large air intakes, while a wider stance comes courtesy of what appears to be aero extensions on the wheel arches. At the rear, you’ll find a sizeable split wing and pair of centrally-mounted exhaust outlets within a matching rear bumper. As this is based on the latest MINI Hatch, Union Jack taillights are on show as well.

Like previous iterations of the JCW GP, the latest one will also be a limited edition model, with just 3,000 units planned for production – each one will be hand-built at MINI’s production facility in Oxford.

GALLERY: 2019 MINI John Cooper Works GP prototype

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Cars, Local Car Launches, Local News, MINI

MINI John Cooper Works Clubman and Countryman launched in Malaysia – 306 PS; RM359k and RM379k


The introduction of the MINI F54 Clubman facelift today also saw the debut of the MINI John Cooper Works Clubman and F60 Countryman.

The two JCW models, which were unveiled in May this year, are both equipped with a revised BMW B48 engine, the 2.0 litre turbocharged four-pot now offering 306 PS (or 302 hp) at 5,000 to 6,250 rpm and 450 Nm from 1,750 to 4,500 rpm. This is an increase of 75 PS (74 hp) and 100 Nm over the previous JCW power unit.

Paired with an eight-speed Steptronic sports automatic transmission driving all four wheels through the automaker’s ALL4 all-wheel drive system, it’s all good enough to get the JCW Clubman to 100 km/h from standstill in just 4.9 seconds (previously, 6.3 seconds), while the JCW Countryman does the same in 5.1 seconds (previously, 6.6 seconds). Both cars have an electronically-limited 250 km/h top speed.

The improved performance comes as a result of extensive enhancements to the powertrain, including the incorporation of a bigger turbocharger, a reinforced crankshaft and a redeveloped air intake duct, among other things.

To keep up with the increase in power, the cooling system has also been upgraded to ensure proper temperature management – on go two external radiators, a larger-volume expansion tank, an independent cooling module mounting, an electric ventilator with increased output, and a third cooling level via a condenser.

The cars also get a newly-developed, model-specific sport exhaust system and a redesigned sport brake system that now contains four-piston, fixed-calliper disc brakes on the rear wheels.

Externally, the JCW Clubman features a restyled front bumper, and there’s also a larger splitter for the front spoiler as well as a new lower grille insert. Additionally, there are now enlarged air intakes at both sides of the bumper to improve cooling efficiency.

Like the regulation Clubman, the JCW also gets a new honeycomb design grille as well as the new LED headlights from the standard car. At the back, there’s a revised bumper and Union Jack design LED tail lights, and the tailpipes have grown larger in diameter, now 95 mm units.

The JCW Countryman also gets a new bumper trim panel with open air intakes on both sides for more efficient cooling of the updated engine, and also gets bigger 85 mm diameter tail pipes.

Both the JCW models are fitted with the same wheel design, in this case a 19-inch JCW Circuit Spoke two-tone unit. Elsewhere, a JCW sport suspension lowers the ride by 10 mm, but the JCW Countryman adds on to this by going the Adaptive Suspension route.

Inside, the two JCW variants come dressed in Carbon Black Dinamica Leather upholstery, and a MINI Yours interior cockpit surface in Piano Black provides illumination in 12 different colours. Aside from JCW specific cues such as the side sills, the cars also come fitted with a panoramic sunroof.

Standard fit equipment on both variants include a head-up display and an 8.8-inch touchscreen Navigation System with a split-screen function, allowing two map views to be displayed at the same time. There’s also a 360-watt Harman Kardon sound system, an electric tailgate, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning and Comfort Access.

Connectivity levels are also up, with the inclusion of a new, in-vehicle 4G SIM card and updated MINI Connected App, which features items such as remote services, Apple Carplay, concierge services and MINI Online.

Safety and driver assistance kit includes front and side driver and front passenger airbags and head airbags for all four outer seats, front/rear Park Distance Control and a rear-view camera. Like the standard Clubman, there’s still no autonomous emergency braking to be found, which does take some of the gloss off.

As for exterior colours, choices available for the JCW Clubman are Rebel Green, White Silver, Midnight Black and Chili Red, while that for the JCW Countryman are Rebel Green, Light White, Midnight Black and Chili Red.

The MINI John Cooper Works Clubman is priced at RM358,888, while the John Cooper Works Countryman goes for RM378,888, both on-the-road without insurance. They come with MINI 4 Years unlimited mileage warranty with free scheduled service.

GALLERY: MINI John Cooper Works Clubman

GALLERY: MINI John Cooper Works Countryman

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