- The Mini Cooper SE and Nissan Leaf are two underrated electric vehicle models that offer a sleek design, reasonable price, and a range of over 100 miles.
- The Mini Cooper SE is a compact electric vehicle with less interior space and trunk space compared to the slightly larger Nissan Leaf.
- The Mini Cooper SE has superior handling abilities due to its lower center of gravity, while the Nissan Leaf has average handling.
- The Mini Cooper SE charges to 80% in around 36 minutes, while the Nissan Leaf takes 40 minutes for an 80% charge.
- The Nissan Leaf has a maximum range of 149 miles, beating the Mini Cooper SE by 35 miles, but the Mini charges faster and has a more common charging option in North America.
As global warming continues to wreak havoc on our planet, environmentally-conscious drivers are making the switch to electric vehicles. EVs are still a relatively new concept, and many prospective buyers may feel nervous about buying one. Will it die before you get to your destination? What if you can’t find a charging station? And, of course, which one is best? When it comes to top-notch EVs, the Mini Cooper SE and Nissan Leaf may be two of the most underrated models. Both offer a sleek design, reasonable price and a range of over 100 miles. Still, determining which is best for you boils down to comparing their key features.
Mini Cooper SE vs. Nissan Leaf: Side-by-Side Comparison
|Mini Cooper SE||Nissan Leaf|
|Battery Pack||32.6 kWh Li-ion; 94 cells||40 kWh Li-ion; 192 cells|
|Horsepower||181 hp||147 hp|
|Maximum Range||114 miles||149 miles|
|Drivetrain||Front-wheel drive||Front-wheel drive|
|Top Speed||93 mph||89 mph|
|Price||Starting at around $30,000||Starting at around $28,000|
Mini Cooper SE vs. Nissan Leaf: What’s the Difference?
The Mini Cooper SE is a compact electric vehicle, standing around 56.4 inches tall and 68 inches wide. The Leaf is slightly larger at around 62 inches tall and 71 inches wide. The exteriors’ size differences are negligible; the interior is where you’ll really notice a difference. Your rear passengers get roughly three extra inches of legroom in a Nissan Leaf and four extra inches of shoulder room. The Nissan Leaf also has an impressive 23.6 cubic feet of trunk space, compared to the paltry 8.7 cubic feet offered by the Mini Cooper SE.
Despite its lackluster space, the Mini Cooper SE really shines when it comes to its handling abilities. This EV’s battery is in its floor, lowering its center of gravity and improving its handling. The steering is relatively heavy, but you’ll feel safe driving around curvy country roads.
The Nissan Leaf’s handling is average, not bad, but nothing to write home about. The steering is definitely precise enough to navigate winding roads, but don’t expect it to be as smooth as the Mini.
Both of these EVs can use 50 kW rapid chargers, but the Mini charges to 80% in around 36 minutes, compared to 40 minutes for an 80% charge on the Leaf. The Mini SE uses a CCS charger, which is a more universal option for North American buyers. On the flip side, the Nissan Leaf relies on a CHAdeMO charger, which can be harder to find in North America.
Range and Charger-Support Comparison
The Nissan Leaf has a maximum range of 149 miles, beating the Mini by 35 miles. You can also upgrade to the Nissan Leaf S Plus for a 62kWh battery and 226-mile range. On paper, the Nissan Leaf is the better choice for a long trip, but keep in mind the Mini Cooper SE charges to 80% 4 minutes faster than the Leaf and has a CCS charger, which is more common in North America. But does that mean you won’t be able to find CHAdeMO chargers for your Nissan Leaf? Not quite.
According to the CHAdeMO Association, there are at least 8,000 CHAdeMO chargers in the United States. It’s also worth noting that because only two EV models in the US use CHAdeMO chargers, the vehicle-to-charger ratio for CHAdeMO EVs is far better.
The standard Nissan Leaf will run you around $28,000, while you can expect to pay around $30,000 for the Mini Cooper SE. The upgraded Nissan Leaf S Plus costs around $34,000, and the Leaf SV Plus is around $35,400. Like other vehicles, there are a few optional upgrades available for each model. For example, you can pay an additional $750 to add the Mini Electric’s Driver Assistance package.
Both the Leaf and Mini have lane-departure warnings, so you’ll have an extra line of defense during long trips. Both have autonomous driving features, but you’ll have to pay extra to get them. Still, adding the Mini Cooper SE’s autonomous features is roughly $700 cheaper than the Leaf’s upgrade. But does that mean the Cooper SE’s autonomous features are a better bang for your buck? Not really. The Nissan Leaf’s autonomous features include automatic speed and lane-positioning adjustments, while the Mini only offers adaptive cruise control and parking assist.
With the additional safety features out of the way, let’s dive into what really matters: How do they handle crashes? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t posted results for any Mini Cooper SE tests. But, since the body style is nearly identical to the gas-powered Mini Coopers, we can use the results of those tests to get an idea of how safe the SE is in the event of a crash.
Per the IIHS, the Mini Cooper performed well in its front driver-side crash tests. The front and side airbags prevented crash test dummies from slamming against any of the vehicle’s stiff surfaces, and injuries to legs and feet were low. Similarly, the Nissan Leaf did a solid job preventing head, neck, leg and chest injuries. During the side-impact crash tests, the Mini’s side airbags protected the rear passenger’s head from smashing into the window. The Nissan Leaf’s side-impact ratings were significantly lower for its structure and safety cage, and there was some risk of pelvis damage for rear passengers. Both vehicles received marginal scores for their child seat anchors.
Tax Credit Eligibility
Both models qualify for the $7,500 tax credit for clean vehicles if purchased in 2022. For a vehicle to qualify for this tax credit, its final assembly must occur in North America, and the MSRP can’t exceed $55,000. Nissan Leafs are generally assembled in Smyrna, Tennessee, but the Mini is assembled in Oxford, England, meaning Mini SE’s purchased in 2023 won’t qualify for the credit.
Mini Cooper SE vs. Nissan Leaf: 5 Must-Know Facts
- In 2019, Nissan unveiled an AWD version of the Nissan Leaf, but it wasn’t made available for purchase. The company said it was a proof-of-concept for an upcoming line of EVs featuring AWD.
- The Mini Cooper SE takes around 6.9 seconds to go from 0 to 60 mph, while the Nissan Leaf takes 8.3 seconds to do the same.
- The standard Mini Cooper SE comes with an 8.8-inch central information screen and lane-departure warnings.
- The standard Nissan Leaf has a keyless start and an 8-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
- The Leaf SV Plus model offers a Pro Pilot upgrade that automatically adjusts speed and lane position.
Mini Cooper SE vs. Nissan Leaf: Which One is Better?
The answer to this question boils down to your specific needs. If you’re looking for a reliable EV with tons of storage space and a decent range, the Nissan Leaf is the car for you. On the other hand, if you want something compact and stylish, you can’t go wrong with the Mini Cooper SE.
Overall, the Nissan Leaf will be the best choice for most people. Although it uses an older charging technology, there are fewer CHAdeMO vehicles on the road and plenty of CHAdeMO chargers in the United States, so you’ll have a relatively easy time charging your vehicle. The Leaf really stands out for its affordable price, solid range, and autonomous driving features.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/surakit sawangchit.