It seems the 2016 Clubman and 2016 Countryman aren’t the only brand-new vehicles Mini is working on. Word from our spy photographers has it the British marque is also testing its first plug-in hybrid automobile. Naturally, Mini hasn’t designed a brand-new vehicle altogether, but it will implement the technology across its entire lineup over the next few years. In the meantime, the Countryman will be the only mini to feature hybrid technology and the photos we just received from out paparazzi provide us with our first look at the thriftier Mini.

Much like most test vehicles spotted, the hybrid Countryman comes wrapped in heavy camouflage, so there’s really nothing new to see as far as exterior styling goes. In fact, we have only the "Hybrid Test Vehicle" sticker on the rear bumper as a hint that this Countryman also employs an electric motor under its skin. Actual details are still unknown as Mini has yet to confirm it will offer a hybrid, but the news of a plug-in Countryman is far from shocking with a plug-in version of the 2015 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer underway. Since the two vehicles make use of the same UKL platform, it was only a matter of time before Mini began exploring hybridization.

That time has apparently come, and judging by the way things usually roll at Mini, the Countryman Plug-In Hybrid is set to arrive right after the next-generation crossover debuts sometime in 2016.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid.

Exterior

2016 Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid Exterior Spyshots
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The Countryman Plug-In Hybrid will look identical to its standard sibling

As with most hybrid offerings based on tradition cars, the Countryman Plug-In Hybrid will look identical to its standard sibling, except for an extra "fuel" cap and "Hybrid" badging. With the next-generation Countryman still under wraps that’s not exactly revealing, I know, but considering the recent facelifts Mini has operated on its cars, as well as the spy shots of the redesigned crossover, changes won’t be massive. I expect the new car to sport a wider body, a bolder front end with a revised grille, and a slightly restyled rear fascia.

Interior

2016 Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid Interior
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Most of the cabin is wrapped in black cloth, with only the center stack, some of the dashboard, and the steering wheel in sight

Although our spy photographers were lucky enough to get a good shot of vehicle’s interior, we only have access to a limited number of details. That’s because most of the cabin is wrapped in black cloth, with only the center stack, some of the dashboard, and the steering wheel in sight. These features are identical to the standard Countryman, meaning the hybrid version also includes a new infotainment system instead of the huge speedometer and the rev counter placed in front of the driver. Likewise, there are revised HVAC controls, rectangular air vents (as previously seen on the Clubman), and redesigned knobs.

Naturally, the touchscreen will display additional data compared to the standard car, such as battery information, recharging data and additional drive modes. For more details on that matter, we will have to wait until the Countryman Plug-In Hybrid is fully revealed.

Drivetrain

2016 Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid Exterior Spyshots
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The plug-in MPV likely sports a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder gasoline engine and a battery-powered motor

BMW now has two different drivetrains it could drop in the Mini Countryman, but I suspect the mini SUV will receive the same combo the Bavarians are testing in the 2 Series Active Tourer hybrid. Although not yet confirmed, the plug-in MPV likely sports a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder gasoline engine sending some 120 horsepower to the front wheels and a battery-powered motor capable of delivering around 70 to 80 ponies to the rear axle.

As a result, the total output could sit at around 200 horses, while torque is expected to break the 250-pound-feet mark. As for mileage, we’re probably looking at more than 40 mpg when the car is using both units and around 20 miles of electric-only range.

Prices

It’s way too early to talk about pricing at this stage, but it’s safe to assume the plug-in hybrid model will be the most expensive member of the Countryman lineup at just under $30,000. The current-generation Countryman retails from $22,750 for the 2015 model year.

Competition

Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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Unveiled at the 2012 New York Auto Show, the XV Crosstrek is essentially a perched Impreza five-door hatchback with improved off-road performance. Subaru added the hybrid version in 2013 by combining the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine with a permanent magnet AC synchronous motor rated 15 ponies and 48 pound-feet of torque, and powered by a nickel hydride battery. The four-banger churns 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet, with the total hybrid system power sitting at 160 horses and 163 pound-feet. A Lineartronic CVT with six-speed manual mode and paddle shifters comes standard.

Fuel economy isn’t that great for a hybrid, coming in at 34 mpg highway and 30 mpg city, but it is respectable for a small crossover. For reference, the gasoline version returns 34 mpg highway and 26 mpg city. Pricing for the XV Crosstrek Hybrid starts from $25,995. The range-topping Touring trim retails from $29,295.

Conclusion

2016 Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid Exterior Spyshots
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This test car confirms what I assumed ever since the 2 Series Active Tourer began testing as a plug-in hybrid. BMW wants to move the Mini Cooper into the hybrid market as well, and it seems the Countryman is its first choice. We’re bound to see the Clubman gain a plug next, followed by the Mini Hardtop, but it remains to be seen whether or not Mini will be successful in the hybrid game. It all boils down to what BMW’s three-pot hybrid drivetrain is capable of, but we won’t find out more about that until the 2 Series Active Tourer and the Mini Countryman plug-inversions hit the streets.

  • Leave it
    • Likely expensive
    • Yet another step away from Mini tradition
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