By Mauricio Lezcano / carsntravel.com / Photos Mini Media Information
For 2018; Characteristic MINI driving fun is now available in fascinating, sustainable form. The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is the first model of the British premium brand in which a plug-in hybrid drive provides the option of mobility that is purely electric and therefore emissions-free, in addition to offering the thrill of athletic agility and supreme versatility.
The MINI Countryman features design elements that are typical of the brand, including the clear three-way structure of the side view broken down into the roof, glass section and main corpus as well as the short overhangs, large wheel arches and downward increase in width. Precise contours on the generous surfaces create an attractive play of light and shade that underscores the car’s athletic shaping and the vertical orientation of the body. The MINI Countryman plug-in hybrid model can be identified from the outside by numerous accents in yellow, such as the MINI E logo and the charging flap next to the side scuttle.
A unique striking profile of the headlamp units deviates from the circular shape that is otherwise typical of the brand. Their distinctive, slightly asymmetrically rounded contour goes together with the radiator grille to produce an unmistakable front view. In conjunction with the standard LED headlamps, daytime driving lights are generated by a band of light running entirely around each headlamp.
The latest generation of the MINI Countryman goes even further in terms of the model’s versatility, agility and premium character. Thanks to its powerful proportions, the MINI Countryman has a particularly distinctive presence. Its unmistakable aura is defined by an extended ground clearance and raised seating position, further emphasized by the MINI ALL4 exterior look.
The interior also contains elements which single this out as the plug-in hybrid model in the range, including accents on the steering wheel and instrument cluster, instruments adapted to electric driving and an extended user interface, which clearly highlights the car’s plug-in hybrid functions. Plus, the start/stop button in the centre console is no longer red as in all other MINIs but yellow instead.
Thanks to the compact structure and arrangement of the eDrive components, the plug-in hybrid model variant of the MINI Countryman has a versatile interior. The high-voltage battery is housed underneath the slightly raised rear seat, as is the 9.5-gallon fuel tank. When all seats are in use, the luggage compartment volume in the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is slightly less than in the conventionally powered model variants. The rear backrests offer the possibility of a 40: 20: 40 split; they can also be folded down and varied in their tilt angle. The entire hybrid technology is installed in such a way that you don’t notice it inside the car at all except for the controls used to activate the various driving modes.
With a clear horizontal structure, stretched lines and generously sized surfaces, the cockpit emphasizes the solid character of the MINI Countryman. The profile of the air vents echoes the vertical orientation of the exterior design elements. In addition to the high-quality materials and precise finish, the modern, ergonomically optimized controls contribute to the car’s exclusive ambience. The hallmark central instrument is integrated in the instrument panel and can, if equipped, incorporate an interactive and custom configurable LED ring that provides illumination in response to driving situations by way of control feedback. This optional feature also comes with LED ambient lighting and a projection of the MINI logo from the exterior mirror on the driver’s side when opening and closing the car.
MINI TwinPower Turbo and eDrive technology combined.
Under the hood, the plug-in hybrid drive of the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 combines the best of two worlds. The familiar space under the bonnet is occupied by a 3-cylinder gasoline engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology from the latest generation of the BMW Group engines. From a capacity of 1.5 liters this mobilizes a peak output of 134 hp. The maximum torque of the engine is 162 ft-lbs., which goes on stream at 1,250 rpm. In the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4, the combustion engine is combined with a modified 6-speed Steptronic transmission. This transfers its power to the front wheels based on the characteristic MINI principle.
The second power unit is an electric motor that is housed under the luggage compartment floor. Designed according to the principle of a hybrid synchronous motor, the electric drive offers an output of 87 hp which is particularly high considering its size and weight and generates a maximum torque of 122 ft-lbs. that is characteristically available directly from standing. In addition, it provides constant power delivery even in high engine speed ranges as well as a very high level of efficiency. The electric motor directs its power to the rear axle via a two-stage single-speed transmission.
Two power units, four drive wheels.
Only one of the two power units is used when the car is moving, while the other one can be additionally enabled at any time to optimize traction, ride stability and agility. The signal required for this purpose comes from the Dynamic Stability Control unit, which permanently analyses both the situation on the road and the driver’s wishes. The result is an intelligent all-wheel drive system that ensures perfect movement in all weathers and on all road surfaces. The precisely controlled interaction achieved in the powering of the front wheels by the combustion engine and the rear wheels by the electric motor is the same as the principle that is applied in the BMW i8, only the other way around: it is a key factor that contributes to the exceptionally fascinating character of the plug-in hybrid sports car.
In the standard setting AUTO eDRIVE, the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 runs on electrical power only up to a speed of 55 mph. At higher speeds and in the case of very intensive loads, the combustion engine is automatically enabled in addition. In MAX eDRIVE mode the vehicle is powered by the electric motor alone at speeds up to 78 mph. What is more, the SAVE BATTERY mode can be selected to relieve the capacity of the high-voltage battery or raise its charge state to at least 90 percent so that sufficient electrical power remains for locally emissions-free driving later.
The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 combines the variable space concept of the model generation’s largest member with the sustainability of BMW Group eDrive technology and an electrified all-wheel drive system. The front wheels are powered by the combustion engine, the rear wheels by the electric motor. The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 can run on electricity alone not just in urban traffic but far beyond, too at a top speed of 77 mph and with a range of up to 24 miles. Drawing on the power of both drive forms, it offers driving fun away from surfaced roads, too. The plug-in hybrid concept perfectly matches the new MINI Countryman because it offers intelligent all-wheel drive as well as being able to run on electricity alone both in urban areas and over longer distances, too.
Estimated fuel economy is rated at 65 mpg Electric & Gasoline and 27 mpg with the Steptronic Automatic Transmission and the 1.5-liter MINI TwinPower Turbo 3-cylinder engine, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price starts at $36,800.00, the one I drove included: Melting Silver Metallic Exterior Paint ($500.00), Parking Assistance ($500.00) MINI Head-Up-Display ($750.00), SiriusXM Radio with One Year Subscription ($300.00), and it came in at $39,700.00 including destination charges ($850.00).