Bigger and packing extra batteries

Mini first released the Countryman compact five-door crossover in 2010, following it up with a facelift in 2014. Despite vehement opposition from critics and purists who lampooned the model for being too big and too wooly to carry the Mini nameplate, the Countryman ended up being the British brand’s second most popular model, following the Hardtop. Now, there’s a new, second generation, and once again, it’s grown considerably. In fact, the new Countryman is the largest Mini ever produced, but that’s to be expected at this point. The real surprise is the announcement of a new plug-in hybrid variant, which adds electrified motivation to the tried-and-true formula of compact versatility and a fun-loving attitude.

It’s called the Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4, and it’s the first electrified Mini we’ve seen since the Mini E hit the scene in 2008. By contrast, the E was all-electric, helping to guide development of BMW’s i3 all-electric hatchback. The E Countryman is a hybrid, which means it’s still burning dino juice, but at a more efficient rate thanks to a little battery assistance.

Mini frames the E Countryman as “the perfect vehicle for urban target groups who wish to enjoy the benefits of purely electric mobility when commuting between home and work every day, for example, while at the same time benefitting from unlimited long-distance suitability at the weekend.”

The new plug-in sits at the top of the Countryman totem pole as the most efficient, most powerful, quickest, and presumably most expensive model in the line-up. All qualms over sizing aside, does the E Countryman have what it takes to keep rolling in the age of green motoring?

Continue reading to learn more about the Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4.

Exterior

Let’s start with the dimension increase. The new Countryman is nearly 8 inches longer than before, with a wheelbase that’s extended by nearly 3 inches, and 1.3 inches of extra width.

Beyond the larger size, there isn’t a whole lot new to point out. The front fascia was reworked a bit, with the headlights now reshaped to offer a more squared-off appearance. The upper grille section is now smaller, and comes with a small upturned divider section that lends the whole thing a bit of frowny face. Below this, we find a tweaked lower bumper with black surrounds for the fog lights.

Moving to the flanks, we find the same tall profile and boxy shape as before. There is matte-black under cladding that runs the length of the car, including up and over the fenders, while metal-look garnish adorns the side sills.

To distinguish the hybrid model from the rest of the lineup, Mini added a few yellow badges to the grille, doors sills, and rear end.

In back are new taillights with LED lighting elements, plus the same familiar flat-faced hatch. Chrome makes its appearance here and there, while a black finish and single tailpipe supports it from underneath.

To distinguish the hybrid model from the rest of the lineup, Mini added a few yellow badges to the grille, doors sills, and rear end.

Interior

All that extra metal outside means the interior is now even roomier, with the cabin space considerably expanded for the benefit of the passengers’ comfort. While exact specs on the E Countryman are still forthcoming, the ICE-only model gets an extra two inches of shoulder room, plus nearly four inches of extra legroom for those sitting on the rear bench. Mini claims only a slight reduction in usable space with the hybrid components installed, but we’ll have to wait to see what that entails.

Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 Nissan Rogue Hybrid Toyota Prius C
Front Head Room (in) TBA 41.6 38.6
Front Leg Room (in) TBA 43 41.7
Front Shoulder Room (in) TBA 56.6 52.3
Second Head Room (in) TBA 38.5 37.0
Second Leg Room (in) TBA 37.9 35.0
Second Shoulder Room (in) TBA 55.9 51.7
Luggage compartment volume 15.89 ft3 26.7 ft3 17.1 ft3

Either way, the space that is there should be quite usable, especially when you consider the rear bench gets a 40:20:40 split. The rear bench can also be folded down completely, and it offers a variable tilt angle. We’ll see how this fairs against competitors like the Toyota Prius C and Nissan Rogue Hybrid when the final specs are released.

The overall layout should be somewhat familiar territory, with a funky-looking dash punctuated by a large, rounded center console. The air vents are rectangular and surrounded by chrome, and cool colorized ambient lighting is found throughout.

Unique to the E are hybrid system displays, with info like battery charge state and the operating mode relayed via a 6.5-inch screen nestled in the instrument cluster.

The overall layout should be somewhat familiar territory, with a funky-looking dash punctuated by a large, rounded center console.

Another cool hybrid feature is the efficiency oriented navigation, which will integrate with the energy management system to identify which upcoming sections of the route are best suited for all-electric power, thus maximizing efficiency.

Below the central screen is a yellow start/stop toggle switch, which sits amid several other switches that control the drive modes and various other systems.

As for infotainment, there is standard Radio Mini Visual Boost, plus the Mini Country Timer that lets you know how much time you’ve spent playing off-road. Opt for the Wired package, and you get the Mini navigation system Professional, plus an 8.8-inch screen with a new graphic design and touchscreen function.

Drivetrain

The E Countryman pulls a lot of its powertrain technology from the BMW Group’s eDrive project, which means it takes cues from models like the all-electric i3 hatchback and the hybrid i8 sports car. Believe it or not, the E Countryman actually uses a powertrain that’s similar in principle to Bimmer’s high-tech coupe.

That means it’s got a three-cylinder gasoline engine paired with a synchronous electric motor, but rather than sending the gas power to the rear and the electric power to the front like the i8, the E Countryman switches it around. That said, the end result is still efficiency when you need it and power when you want it, plus a good deal of grip from the electrified intelligent AWD system.

2017 Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 693270
Total combined output of the whole hybrid system is 224 horsepower, which is enough to propel the E Countryman to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, making it the quickest model in the range.

On the dino-juice burning side of things is a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder mounted in the nose. By itself, the internal combustion engine puts out 136 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque, all of which hits the front axle through a modified six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission – the only gearbox option available. Fuel is supplied by a 9.25-gallon tank.

On the electrified flip side is a synchronous hybrid electric motor mounted underneath the floor of the luggage storage area. Peak output for the motor is rated at 88 horsepower and 121 pound-feet of torque, which makes its way to the rear axle through a two-stage single-speed transmission.

Juicing the system is a lithium-ion battery pack mounted ahead of the electric motor and underneath the rear seat, which raises the rear bench slightly and decreases rear headroom. The battery comes with five modules with 16 cells apiece. Capacity is rated at 7.6 kWh. According to Mini, the battery pack takes two hours, 15 minutes to top off when plugged in at a Level 2, 3.6-kW source, or three hours, 15 minutes when plugged in at a regular household socket.

Total combined output of the whole hybrid system is 224 horsepower, which is enough to propel the E Countryman to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, making it the quickest model in the range. It’s also got an all-electric range of about 25 miles at speeds up to 78 mph. Mileage looks like roughly 112 MPGe, while emissions are rated at 49 grams per km using the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrids.

Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 Nissan Rogue Hybrid Toyota Prius C
Horsepower 224 HP 176 HP 99 HP
0 to 60 mph <7 seconds 9.5 seconds 10.5 seconds
All-electric range 25 miles 22 miles
MPGe 112 MPGe
Emissions 49 g/km

The E Countryman tends to favor just one power unit at a time when cruising, calling on both when more power, better traction, higher cornering prowess, or increased stability are needed. Drivers get a say with the eDrive toggle switch, which offers three separate settings – Auto eDrive, which is basically the default setting, Max eDrive, which favors the battery power, and Save Battery, which charges up the electrons for later use.

It kinda makes me wonder what a RWD all-electric Mini would feel like to drive. Hopefully some tuner out there figures out a hack that’ll turn the E Countryman into a battery-sucking drift mobile.

Prices

2017 Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 High Resolution Exterior
- image 693246

Look for the 2017 E Countryman to debut next month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Following up on the reveal will be dealership deliveries sometime next June, with exact pricing announced somewhere in between.

For now, though, we’re guessing this thing will start at about $27,000.

Competition

Nissan Rogue Hybrid

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
- image 688193

The Rogue is one of Nissan’s most successful models, and now, there’s a hybrid variant to broaden the crossover’s appeal even further. Both FWD and AWD are offered, with up to 176 horsepower for the upper trim levels. If space is a big concern, this may be the one to get.

Read the full review here.

Toyota Prius C

2015 Toyota Prius c
- image 650961

While more of a hatchback than a crossover, the Prius C offers endlessly practical motoring on all fronts. It’s efficient, comes with lots of cargo room, and is relatively inexpensive to buy too. Just don’t expect it to be a whole lot of fun.

Read the full review here.

Conclusion

2017 Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 High Resolution Exterior
- image 693249

Okay, so the new Countryman is bigger. Prepare yourself – I think it’s actually a good thing, at least as far as the hybrid model goes. The extra size makes total sense, considering you need the space to equip the electric motor drive and battery.

Yes, it’s not very Mini-esque, and yes, a hybrid crossover is pretty much a direct contradiction of the original Mini philosophy. But if you put all that to one side, this vehicle looks like it should do quite well. People still love crossovers, and with electrification added to the same ‘ole neo-Mini recipe, the sales should keep on rolling just fine.

  • Leave it
    • * Loses some of the old Mini charm
    • * More practical, cheaper options available
    • * How fun is it to drive?

Press Release

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 job of providing efficient forward propulsion is shared between a 3-cylinder petrol engine and a synchronous electric motor. Together they produce a system output of 165 kW/224 hp. Equally impressive is the average fuel consumption of 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres and the CO2 emissions figure of 49 grams per kilometre (EU test cycle figures for plug-in hybrid vehicles). The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is thus the perfect vehicle for urban target groups who wish to enjoy the benefits of purely electric mobility when commuting between home and work every day, for example, while at the same time benefiting from unlimited long-distance suitability at the weekend.

2017 Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 High Resolution Exterior
- image 693245

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 combines the variable space concept of the new 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 is able to run on electricity alone not just in urban traffic but far beyond, too – at a top speed of 125 km/h and with a range of up to 40 kilometres. 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. This is unique in the segment,” says Uwe Seitz, MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 project manager.

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4: an overview of the highlights.
– The brand’s first ever plug-in hybrid model.
– High-quality BMW Group eDrive components, configured to suit this specific model, that draw on expertise gained from the development of BMW iPerformance automobiles.
– 3-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor combine to produce a total system output of 165 kW/224 hp.
– Fuel consumption in the EU test cycle: 2.1 litres/100 km, CO2 emissions: 49 g/km.
– Electric driving at speeds of up to 125 km/h with a range of up to 40 kilometres.
– Novel driving experience due to the electrified all-wheel drive system ALL4.
– Lithium-ion high-voltage battery can be charged at a wallbox in 2:15 hours.
– Three operating modes available for selection via eDrive toggle switch.
– Hybrid-specific displays.

2017 Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 High Resolution Exterior
- image 693246

MINI is a pioneer in the field of electric mobility.
The BMW Group’s technological expertise and range of models have given it a leading role in the area of electric mobility. MINI was an early pioneer here: the MINI E presented in 2008 was the BMW Group’s first ever purely electrically powered automobile and was driven by private users in everyday traffic as part of a large-scale field experiment. More than 600 of this vehicle based on the MINI Cooper were used for practical testing purposes worldwide. The project yielded vital insights into the use of electrically powered automobiles, and these were incorporated in the development of the BMW i3.

MINI TwinPower Turbo and eDrive technology combined.
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 petrol engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology from the latest generation of the BMW Group engines. From a capacity of 1.5 litres this mobilises a peak output of 100 kW/136 hp. The maximum torque of the engine is 220 Newton metres, 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.

2017 Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 High Resolution Interior
- image 693227

The second power unit of the MINI S E Countryman ALL4 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 65 kW/88 hp – which is particularly high considering its size and weight – and generates a maximum torque of 165 Newton metres 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.

Lithium-ion battery: compact, powerful and produced using exclusive expertise.
The lithium-ion battery is positioned directly in front of the electric motor underneath the rear seat. It is made up of five modules, each comprising 16 battery cells, and like the electric motor it is produced at the Dingolfing plant, the BMW Group’s competence centre for eDrive technology. The high-voltage battery has a capacity of 7.6 kWh. At a wallbox with a charging capacity of 3.6 kW it can be fully charged in 2:15 hours. Charging at a regular household socket takes 3:15 hours.

Intelligent energy management optimises driving fun and efficiency.
The intelligent energy management system controlled by the power electronics of the plug-in hybrid system ensures that the interplay between the combustion engine and the electric motor is optimised for both driving fun and efficiency in all situations. Using the power of the electric motor alone, the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is able to provide locally emissions-free driving fun with hallmark brand spirit in many situations in day-to-day traffic. In the event of more intense acceleration, the electric motor supports the combustion engine via a boost function. A total system output of 165 kW/224 hp and a combined torque of 385 Newton metres are available for athletic sprints. The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds.

2017 Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 693270

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 optimise traction, ride stability and agility. The signal required for this purpose comes from the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) 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,” explains Uwe Seitz, MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 project manager. 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.

The eDrive toggle switch: purely electric power at the press of a button.
The driver can also use the eDrive toggle switch to choose between three operating modes

In the standard setting AUTO eDRIVE, the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 runs on electrical power only up to a speed of 80 km/h. 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 125 km/h. What is more, the SAVE BATTERY mode can be selected so as to relieve the capacity of the high-voltage battery or raise its charge state to at least 90 per cent so that sufficient electrical power remains for locally emissions-free driving later on.

If the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is fitted with a navigation system and route guidance is activated, the anticipatory energy management system ensures that appropriate sections of the route are run on electric power alone. Taking into account the navigation data, the operating strategy of the hybrid system is geared towards drawing on the energy capacity of the high-voltage battery to maximum extent.

2017 Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 High Resolution Exterior
- image 693235

Versatile and variable in the interior, too.
Thanks to the compact structure and arrangement of the eDrive components, the plug-in hybrid model variant of the new MINI Countryman has a versatile interior. The high-voltage battery is housed underneath the slightly raised rear seat, as is the 35-litre fuel tank. When all seats are in use, the luggage compartment volume in the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is only 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,” says Uwe Seitz, MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 project manager, “with the exception of the controls used to activate the various driving modes.”

Hybrid-specific design features and displays.
Discreet but equally unmistakable indications of the pioneering character of the car’s drive form are provided by the model-specific design features on the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 exterior. The connection for the charging cable is under a flap in the area of the left-hand side scuttle. Other features are the model-specific “e” badge on the side scuttles and also a yellow “S” in the model inscription on the rear as well as on the radiator grille and door sill finishers.

The special features of the cockpit include a yellow start/stop unit at the centre of the toggle switch panel and a performance display in the instrument cluster on the steering column. The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 comes as standard with the Radio MINI Visual Boost featuring a 6.5-inch colour screen in the central instrument. In addition to the MINI Country Timer, this also displays information such as the charge state of the high-voltage battery and operating mode of the hybrid drive selected by eDrive toggle switch. In conjunction with the optional Wired package including MINI navigation system Professional, operation is via an 8.8-inch screen with a new graphic design and touchscreen function as well as via the Touch Controller in the centre console.

2017 Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 High Resolution Exterior
- image 693269

Fittings: efficiency meets individual style.
The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 combines highly efficient driving fun with the variable space concept and all the other advancements that characterise the new edition of the all-round model for the premium compact segment. Its powerfully expressive design and optimised use of space are just as striking as its increased ride comfort and refined premium ambience. The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 comes with the MINI Driving Modes as standard. Regardless of the operating mode selected via eDrive toggle switch, the vehicle set-up can be adapted to a particularly sporty or efficient driving style, according to preference.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: