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Perspective: The 2023 Mini Cooper SE

2023 Mini Cooper SE front 3/4 view

What am I doing?

How often do we actually stop and ask ourselves that question? Especially about things we do every day that we accept as normal?

I have a 40-mile roundtrip commute to the day job. I drive alone. The most I'm ever hauling is if I stop off on the way home at the grocery store.

2023 Mini Cooper SE rear 3/4 view

That's 230 days of the year, allowing for vacation and company holidays. Meaning sixty-three percent of the time, I don't need a car larger than the 2023 Mini Cooper SE. And given that I don't automatically take a long road trip every day off, more than sixty-three percent of the time, I don't need more than the SE's 110 miles of range per charge.

2023 Mini Cooper SE hood up

2023 Mini Cooper SE electric powerplant

2023 Mini Cooper SE charge port

The Mini Cooper SE is a pure electric vehicle. The advantages to a small battery are twofold---lower weight and quicker charging. On a DC fast charger, Mini says you can get from 10 to 80 percent in 35 minutes. On a level 2 charger (the kind most people have in their home garages), that's four hours. With 181 horsepower and the right-now torque of an electric, the Mini Cooper SE knocks off 0-60 runs in 6.9 seconds. And with the battery pack mounted nice and low, the legendary Mini handling is all there, too.

2023 Mini Cooper SE rear liftgate open

2023 Mini Cooper SE interior

2023 Mini Cooper SE front seats

2023 Mini Cooper SE front seat detail

2023 Mini Cooper SE instrument panel

The base price of the 2023 Mini Cooper SE is $33,900. That brings with it the cloth and leatherette checked upholstery, navigation, 17-inch wheels, power-folding mirrors, a heat pump, heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and a Harman/Kardon premium audio system.

2023 Mini Cooper SE steering wheel and gauge cluster

2023 Mini Cooper SE center stack

2023 Mini Cooper SE touchscreen

And, apart from $950 for the Driver Assistance Package (parking assistant and head-up display), that's it. With $850 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2023 Mini Cooper SE is $35,700.

2023 Mini Cooper SE front view

2023 Mini Cooper SE side view

2023 Mini Cooper SE rear view

I was fortunate enough to travel to France earlier this year, where I had some of my assumptions about how much is enough---of anything---challenged. I still can't make the case for an electric Mini being my only car in America (having just returned from a week in Southern California---a 400-mile drive each way), but growing up, my Dad's generation understood the value in the cars in your driveway being suited for different purposes---a car for the commute, a car for vacations and road trips and (in some families) a pickup or van to haul stuff. They weren't wrong. And not using a drop of gasoline or putting a particle of pollution in the air 63 percent of the year sounds like a noble goal to me, even if there were a little sacrifice involved. The 2023 Mini Cooper SE doesn't ask that. It's a fun vehicle that is also good for us.

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