A fun and funky SUV that boasts some seriously eco-friendly credentials without losing any of its smile-inducing zip, the Mini Countryman All4 Plug-In Hybrid is the first of its kind from the legendary bug-eyed brand. The Countryman continues Mini’s pioneering, boundary-pushing thirst, while greatly reducing its thirst for petrol—a highly versatile SUV that merges an electric powertrain and traditional combustion engine.
Alone, the Countryman’s powerful electric motor generates a 40-kilometre range, plenty for a commute or weekend jaunt around the shops, but combined with its twin turbo, three-cylinder engine and 36-litre tank, expect to cover in the region of 500 kilometres. The switch between electric and petrol is smooth and seamless, with three modes to choose from: auto eDrive, MAX eDrive, or Save Battery, controlled via a retro toggle. The first setting, the default auto eDrive, does all the thinking for you—smart onboard systems examine your speed, acceleration and battery life to figure out the most efficient way to maximise the combined power of the electric motor and petrol engine.
MAX eDrive is the most efficient mode—ideal for short trips around town—whereby not a drop of fuel will be drunk (the vehicle can actually reach an impressive speed of 125km/hr on battery only, not that you’ll be doing that on urban routes). But if you do fancy a little adrenalin boost, or, say, need to pass someone on the highway, simply floor the accelerator and the petrol engine will automatically kick in.
The Save Battery mode is designed for when electric power is low and the petrol engine needs to take over. The electric motor will be partly replenished through power generated by the engine as well as the brakes. When parked up, charging couldn’t be easier, simply plug it into a 10A socket with the supplied cable—a full charge takes just 2.5-3.5 hours.
The battery is neatly slotted beneath the rear row of seats preventing it from impeding on valuable storage space—and there’s plenty of that too. Mini by name, but not by nature, enjoy extended leg room front and back, as well as a 220-litre capacity with the rear seats down—that’s more than the previous model, and it’s 20cm longer, and 3.5cm wider, too. A cool, bright yellow stop-start switch joins all the usual array of retro toggles and oversized dials, while the intelligent four-wheel drive detects the make-up of the surface to direct the necessary power to each individual wheel for maximum to tear things up off-road with maximum efficiency and agility also.