Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

Style

The Countryman is the larger, more versatile version of the MINI Cooper. It’s small by SUV standards but offers a generous amount of space for a subcompact vehicle.

The plug-in hybrid version of the Countryman has the same cool mystique and well-designed interior (with lots of round gauges and dials) found in other MINI models. From the outside, it looks mostly like the conventional Countryman—but with the addition of a few optional yellow accents and a charging port on the front left fender.

The badge sports an “E” for electric. (The “S” stands for sport.)

On the inside, you’ll also find an EV-mode selector in the center console and additional electric-related screens in the infotainment system.

The Countryman plug-in hybrid offers a wide selection of customizations including seven exterior colors—mostly in various tints of gray, silver, black, and blue. There are also three wheel choices and seven varieties of upholstery. The list of available custom touches includes striping, roof rails, privacy glass, and Union Jack mirror caps.

Performance

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman rides much like a gas-powered MINI Countryman S—but the 65-kilowatt (87 horsepower) electric motor applied to the rear wheels provides added power. In a pure-electric mode, for the first 12 or so miles, the electricity moves the rear wheels. When more power is needed, the turbocharged three-cylinder 1.5-liter engine kicks in to motivate the front wheels. That’s when all four wheels are working together to provide excellent acceleration and handling—assuming there’s energy in the EV battery.

MINI pegs the total combined output at 221 horsepower via a six-speed automatic transmission. The Countryman’s 284 pound-feet of torque provide a strong thrust off the line—resulting in the zero-to-sixty performance below seven seconds. Applying the boost from the electric motor exclusively to the rear wheels helps avoid torque steer, a pulling to one side or vibration that can happen in some EVs.

Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

The steering feels quick and accurate. MINI doesn’t use Dynamic Damper Control on any Countryman hybrid—so the ride is stiff.

Where the model’s hybrid-ness and its extra weight (200 pounds more than the gas version) causes issues is with braking. Reviewers complain about a dead brake feel and even a crunching when braking from low speeds.

Various manual modes allow the driver to control the power source—for a sportier ride or higher reliance on the quiet and smooth electric motor. Most drivers will likely leave the Countryman SE in automatic mode, allowing the vehicle’s computers to decide which combination of electric power and internal combustion provides the best zip and efficiency.

All trims of the premium Countryman S E are all-wheel-drive.

Efficiency/Range

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman has an official EPA efficiency rating of 65 MPGe—for the first dozen miles while there is sufficient charge in the batteries. After the 7.6 kilowatt-hour pack is depleted, the Countryman reverts to conventional hybrid operation, granting a decent 27 miles per gallon. The car’s automatic start-stop function helps achieve this level of efficiency.

The all-electric range of just 12 miles is at the low end of the spectrum—well below the class-leading Honda Clarity’s 48 miles. The same plug-in hybrid system is used in BMW plug-in vehicles, like the 330e that provides a modest 14 miles of electric range. Think of these systems as fuel-efficiency aids rather than big leaps into the EV world.

Nonetheless, for drivers with relatively short commutes (or those who can charge throughout the day), the plug-in capacity could significantly reduce fuel consumption.

There’s a Save mode that allows drivers to reserve the electric range for later. It could be a smart move to save the juice for when you know you’ll be driving in city congestion. The electric mode means you won't idle in traffic.

For comparison, the gas-powered Cooper S Countryman is also rated at 27 miles per gallon. Of course, you don’t get the benefit of those 12 miles of electric driving. The gas version grants a driving range of 435 miles—compared to the plug-in hybrid only supplying 270 miles because it has a smaller 9.5-gallon gas tank. However, the benefit of the electric motor is not just efficiency. The plug-in Countryman has an extra 32 horsepower and 77 more pound-feet of torque compared to the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder variant.

Charging

Like the supercar BMW i8, which shares a similar hybrid system to the MINI Cooper S E Countryman, the battery pack gets slowly charged simply through daily driving. But maximizing the vehicle’s efficiency requires the use of the onboard 3.3-kW charger plugged into the grid. When plugged into a 240-volt source, an empty battery pack will fully recharge in less than two hours.

Passenger/Cargo Room

The S E Countryman’s cabin is more upscale than most of the competition. It provides more space and comfort than the standard MINI. Bolstered front passenger seating is snug yet comfortable. Some reviewers complain about the seats being slightly stiff and narrow.

The seating’s upright position (and relatively high ground clearance) provides excellent visibility. Legroom is decent although the seats are slightly stiff and narrow—perhaps not ideal for long trips. Headroom is good, even with the optional sunroof. Rear seating is better than what you find in other subcompact SUVs and can work for adults.

The plug-in Countryman offers 17.6 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. There are no rear armrests. The rear seats, which split 40/20/40, drop almost entirely flat to extend the cargo capacity to 47.6 cubic feet—only losing a half-cube compared to the gas version. Nonetheless, useful compartments and cubbies are not abundant.

The layout of the Countryman’s dashboard is intuitive, and controls are well within reach. The plug-in variant is available with the bigger 8.8-inch screen, which dominates the dashboard experience. The infotainment screen provides detailed information about fuel economy, driving mode, and driving efficiency. Some drivers find it challenging to enter addresses into the navigation system.

Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

Safety

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman has not yet undergone crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The no-plug Countryman received the highest score of Good in each IIHS crash test, although it lost some points for visibility from its headlights.

Price

The MINI Cooper Countryman SE has a relatively steep base price of $37,750 (including destination), although it comes standard with a long list of premium features, including 18-inch allow wheels, leather steering wheel, and a panoramic roof.

Some of the upgrades include a $750 heads-up display and a parking-assist feature available for $500. Special paint selections will also add to the sticker.

Upgrading to the Signature trim costs about $2,500 bringing heated seats, keyless entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, and forward-collision warning. The Signature’s Premium package further adds power-folding mirrors, auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors, chrome exterior trim, LED headlights, cornering lights, satellite radio, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

The top-of-the-line Iconic trim pushes the price past $45,000 but provides premium leather upholstery, navigation, and power-adjustable seats. As mentioned above, there is a long list of a la carte options and customizations.

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman qualifies for a federal tax credit of $4,000.

Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

Comparison with Similar Vehicles

The plug-in hybrid that somewhat compares to the MINI Cooper S E Countryman is the Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid. The Niro, starting at about $28,000, is significantly less expensive than the Countryman—while offering more than double the all-electric range. But the cute, premium MINI is more upscale, stylish, and packs about 100 more horsepower.

If maximizing the range of a plug-in hybrid is your priority, there’s the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid or Toyota Prius Prime. But if you’re looking for the most efficient and plug-friendly version of the Countryman, then the S E is the right choice. The BMW 3-Series plug-in hybrid provides 14 miles of electric range. Its price starts at $44,000.

Purchase Process

Since its introduction in 2017, MINI has sold on average about 100 units of the Cooper S E Countryman per month. The car is reportedly available throughout the United States, but the low sales numbers indicate that availability is limited. California shoppers should be able to find dealers that offer the Countryman plug-in hybrid. But buyers in other locations will likely need to make a special order that might require a wait.

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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