High-performance Mini Coopers need to be small, nimble, and relatively quick. One thing they don't necessarily need to be, according to the company's U.S. leadership, is gasoline-powered.
In an interview with Motor Authority, Mini USA Vice President Mike Peyton said that electrification is on the table for the range-topping John Cooper Works variants, which have traditionally been powered by a high-output turbocharged engine. The latest and greatest in the lineup, the 2020 Mini John Cooper Works GP, takes the formula to a new extreme, pairing a 301-horsepower mill with out-of-this-world aero.
Peyton says that powertrains don't necessarily have to sound or feel the way traditionalists expect in order to be fun. It certainly doesn't have to feel that way in order to be fast; Tesla drivers can attest to that, as can those who have been fortunate enough to pilot some of the latest electrified hypercars.
He also acknowledged that while the future may be electric, that future is still a ways off. Mini is still waiting for advances in battery technology that will allow its performance models to deliver on other key expectations — namely handling. Minis are expected to be, well, miniature, and the additional weight of a current-generation, high-capacity battery is antithetical to that formula.
The take-away? The future of Mini performance is electric, but that future is still distant. So while the Mini Cooper SE and Mini E Countryman plug-in hybrid may give us a taste of Mini's approach to electrification, it could be some time before we see the company's highest-performance variants dabble in same space.