Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman is a small, stylish, subcompact crossover that plugs in to provide about a dozen miles of electric driving. All trims of the premium Countryman S E are all-wheel-drive. It uses its 1.5-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder engine to provide power the front wheels and a capable 65-kilowatt electric motor to motivate the rear wheels.

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 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 a special EV-mode selector in the center console and additional electric-related screens in the infotainment system.

Performance

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman rides much like a gas-powered MINI Countryman S—but the electric motors applied to the rear wheels provide added power. In a pure-electric mode, for the first 12 or so miles, the electricity moves the rear wheels on their own. When the gas engine is brought into play at higher speeds, the turbocharged three-cylinder engine kicks in to power the front wheels. And when there is a higher need for power—and there is sufficient juice in the battery pack—all four wheels are working together to provide excellent acceleration and handling.

Various manual modes allow the driver to control the power source—for a sportier ride or greater reliance on the quiet and smooth electric motor. We suspect that most drivers will leave the Countryman SE in automatic mode—giving the vehicle’s computers that ability to decide which combination of electric power and internal combustion provides the best combination of zip and efficiency.

Total power capacity is a healthy 221 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. Zipping from zero to 60 miles per hour takes place in about 6.7 seconds. The 1.5-liter engine and 65-kilowatt electric motor are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Some reviewers complained that the extra weight from the batteries (about 200 pounds) gives the car a slightly heavier feel on the road—and that the plug-in hybrid’s brake-pedal feel is soft.

Efficiency/Range

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman has an official E.P.A. 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 a conventional hybrid operation, granting a decent 27 miles per gallon.

The all-electric range of just 12 miles is at the low end of the spectrum—well below the class-leading Chevy Volt’s 53 miles. Nonetheless, for drivers with relatively short commutes (or those who have the ability to charge throughout the day), the plug-in capacity could greatly reduce overall fuel consumption.

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 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—with an upright position (and high ground clearance) that provides excellent visibility. Rear seating is better than what you find in other subcompact SUVs and can work for adults. Legroom is decent although the seats are slightly stiff—perhaps not ideal for long trips.

The plug-in Countryman offers more than 17 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. The rear seats, which split 40/20/40, drop almost completely flat to extend the cargo capacity to 47 cubic feet.

The layout of the Countryman’s dashboard is intuitive. The plug-in variant comes standard with the bigger 8.8-inch screen, which dominates the dashboard experience. (That screen is an upgrade on no-plug versions.) The infotainment screen provides detailed information about fuel economy, driving mode, and driving efficiency. Some reviewers complain about the difficulty of entering addresses into the navigation system.

Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

Safety

The 2018 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 2018 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 2018 MINI Cooper Countryman SE has a relatively steep base price of $37,650 (including destination), although it comes standard with a long list of premium features, including l18-inch allow wheels, leather steering wheel, heated front seats, keyless access and starting, and LED headlights.

Some of the upgrades include a $1,000 panoramic glass sunroof, a $750 heads-up display, and a parking assist feature available for $500.

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 only plug-in hybrid that somewhat compares to the MINI Cooper S E Countryman is the Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid. The Niro, 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 Chevy Volt 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.

Purchase Process

MINI reported the first sales of the Cooper S E Countryman in June 2017. While the car is reportedly available throughout the United States, sales in 2017 were below 100 units per month—suggesting limited availability. California shoppers should be able to find dealers that offer the Countryman plug-in hybrid, but buyers in other locations will need to be persistent and patient. Start by contacting your local dealership.

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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