We think MIN-e might have been catchier.
In a first for the brand, BMW-owned small-car specialists MINI have unveiled its first-ever plug-in hybrid model. Dubbed the Countryman Cooper S E Hybrid (which we will refer to as the Countryman S E for the rest of this article), the electrified MINI features a three-cylinder petrol engine powering the front wheels and an electric engine powering the rear pair, with no less than two transmissions to keep power going.
Combined, the Countryman S E offers as much as 165kW & 385Nm, with the century sprint dispatched in just a hair under 7-seconds. MINI claims an all-electric range of up to 40km, with zero-emissions cruising at up to 125km/h. With both engines working together, the manufacturer claims an almost astonishing 2.1L-2.5L/100km fuel consumption, though these figures should be taken with a pinch of salt.
It’s a good thing that it’s more efficient though, as the placement of the batteries underneath the rear seat bench means that the fuel tank has shrunk to a diminutive 35L. The 7.6kWh battery pack, made by BMW, can be recharged from a regular plug point in 3-hours and 15-minutes, but use of a wall box charger drops that time by a whole hour (to 2:15-hours).
Power from the two engines go through two gearboxes. The TwinPower 3-pot up front is mated to a 6-speed Steptronic auto that puts power down to the front wheels, while the electric engine in the rear is paired to a two-speed transmission that powers the rear wheels. This essentially creates an all-wheel drive system without having the two axels connected mechanically, much like the system on the Volvo XC90 T8 TwinEngine Hybrid.
The electric motor is called upon during low-speed transit, and the immediacy of the torque should make the Countryman S E darty through town traffic. The silent electric propulsion remains the default mode until you hit 80km/h, at which point the conventional engine up front is “gently activated” and takes over as the prime powerplant. Of course, this transition can be overridden by a flick of the ‘eDRIVE’ toggle switch to ‘MAX eDRIVE’ mode, which will then raise the maximum electric-only speed to 125km/h.
BMW is quick to point out that all the components of the hybrid system in the Countryman S E are a “result of the [BMW] Group’s eDrive technology.” The battery pack is given a warranty of six years or 96,000km. Unique aesthetic embellishments include an ‘E’ badge on the nose and fenders, while the door sills gain a yellow ’S’ logo. The alloy wheels, 17-inches in diameter, are also unique to this variant. Hybrid-specific displays and readouts will likely feature here, and while the UK-market cars get a generous spec list (with GPS navigation, cruise control, bluetooth, and Active Guard as standard), it’s still unclear if MINI’s plug-in hybrid will get these same features should it make Australian landfall.