Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

Mini introduced its first plug-in hybrid when it started selling the new MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 in June 2017. The stylish S E Countryman provides a spirited ride—while relying purely on electricity for about 12 miles and at speeds up to 78 miles per hour. The all-wheel-drive car is not only zero-emissions for local driving, but it’s fun to pilot. Its 224-horsepower powertrain delivers zero-to-60 mph acceleration in less than seven seconds.

As a plug-in hybrid, the Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 has a 3-cylinder turbo-boosted engine and an electric motor—a system that has a design similar to the outrageously cool BMW i8 plug-in hybrid. The benefit of a plug-in hybrid is the elimination of range anxiety. After the 7.6-kilowatt lithium-ion battery is depleted, the gas engine can provide a total combined range of more than 300 miles and quick gas fill-ups to enable road trips. And for those trips, the Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is the marque’s largest model. The luggage compartment volume is only slightly less than in the conventionally powered model.

MIini’s all-electric predecessor, the limited-run Mini E, which was produced in 2008, was a test platform that led to the development of the BMW i3. The Mini E was a cult hit. Many of the drivers of the car—only 600 were produced—did not want to return the car when the test program concluded to make room for the i3. Perhaps the new MINI plug-in hybrid will satisfy the same desire for a small, fun, stylish and great-driving electric-drive car, even if it’s not purely electric.

Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

The Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 combines a 1.5-liter engine produces an output of 136 ponies. It combines with a modified 6-speed Steptronic transmission to deliver power to the front wheels. Meanwhile, the electric motor—positioned under the luggage compartment floor—puts out another 88 horsepower delivered to the rear axle via a two-stage single-speed transmission.

With the front wheels getting power from the combustion engine and the rear wheels taking power from the electric motor, the car benefits from improved traction, stability and handling. The delivery of the power to all wheels is managed by a Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) unit, which analyses driver inputs and road conditions. “The result is an intelligent all-wheel-drive system that ensures perfect movement in all weathers and on all road surfaces,” explained Uwe Seitz, Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 project manager.

When and how the two power sources are deployed depends on the car’s driving modes:

  • AUTO eDRIVE for speeds up to 50 mph
  • MAX eDRIVE to use the electric motor alone at speeds up to 78 mph
  • SAVE BATTERY to use gasoline to charge the battery pack for later use

There’s little in the car’s design to indicate that it’s using electrons for motivation, except for an “e” badge, a yellow “S” logo on the door sills, and the flap that opens to the charging port on the left side of the car. It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels as standard.

Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

The standard trim includes a three-spoke sports steering wheel, the Mini Driving Modes, a navigation system with a 6.5-inch display, and the Mini Controller in the center console. This model shares the platform with the BMW X1 and the 2 Series Active Tourer. Like the gas-powered Countryman, the plug-in version “combines the taller height, available AWD and cargo utility expected in a crossover SUV with the flair, retro-cool looks and fun driving manners for which Mini is known,” according to Kelley Blue Book. Edmunds said the Countryman “is one of the most distinctive and entertaining small crossover wagons out there,” although some reviewers have complained about its stiff ride and high noise levels (which should be mitigated with an electric drive).

The Mini Countryman Plug-in Hybrid is the first of several EVs from the brand, including a pure electric MINI expected in 2019. "Mini by nature and or customer way of life is an urban brand already, and electric will play a bigger role in the urban environment," said Sebastian Mackensen, global head of the Mini brand.

Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 specifications

Availability: Now
Base MSRP: $37700
Est. tax credit: $4000
Technology: Plug-in Hybrid
Body type: SUV
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 12 miles electric + gasoline
Battery size: 8 kWh
Charging rate: 3.3 kW

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