The new MINI Countryman ALL4 plug-in hybrid is a car that’s probably worth keeping an eye on, if one is in the market for a sporty car with a plug that doesn’t cost too much. That said, the model clearly has some limitations that are worth highlighting right off the bat (before getting into the positives).
While many people who buy plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) don’t need an all-electric range that rivals that of an actual all-electric car … a range of just 12 or so miles just isn’t that useful. How often does someone take a trip of less than 12 miles? How often do you drive a total of 12 miles before being at a place where you can plug in again? Although it takes just a few moments, who wants to plug the car in every 12 miles or so?
Not all that important or surprising (considering the compact nature of a MINI), but worth noting as well: the Countryman ALL4 PHEV has a fuel-tank capacity that’s actually ~2 gallons smaller than the comparable non-electric offering.
Now, with that out of the way, there are definitely some positives to discuss. The electric motor works in concert with the a 3-cylinder turbo engine to provide 221 horsepower, which means the model can do 0 to 60 mph in around 6.7 seconds. Additionally, the all-wheel-drive setup means that the model can probably do well in regions with snowy and icy winters.
The price of the MINI Countryman PHEV is “just” ~$37,000, which is not cheap but not extremely expensive either. Sure, that’s more than a base Tesla Model 3 and most of you reading this probably think that’s laughable — who would buy a MINI Countryman PHEV over a Tesla Model 3? However, there surely still is a market of people who don’t know Tesla, who could want a MINI Countryman for other reasons and be upsold on the plug-in offering, who could still feel better buying a plug-in hybrid than a fully electric car, etc. Will the MINI Countryman PHEV see blockbuster sales? Probably not. Will more than 1000 of these plug-in hybrid cars move into real garages? Surely.
Engadget provides more: “This plug-in hybrid has enough oomph to beat others off the line, which helps tremendously with jostling for position in crowded lanes. … The Countryman obviously isn’t as insane as a Model S or a BMW i8, but it feels like a far cry from other, more practical hybrids. That effortlessly quick feel is aided by the Countryman’s all-wheel drivetrain. MINI says this is the most affordable hybrid with AWD.” I wonder how many people would buy the car based on that claim alone.”
“It’s on those sorts of flat stretches where the Countryman really comes into its own. With sport mode enabled, it tears across asphalt with utter confidence — just make sure to have your power settings correctly configured. Since the EV charging infrastructure in my corner of Jersey kind of sucks, I left the Countryman in ‘save battery mode’ most of the time.”
All of that said, the interior is apparently a bit behind the times, with the infotainment and navigation systems reportedly being particularly bad. Though, who actually uses those much anyways? Also, who buys a MINI Countryman? Does this segment of the market care about high-tech navigation or prefer an old-school style?
Interestingly, the model does feature a reflective heads-up display (HUD) that syncs with the navigation system, but that system — going by the review quoted from above — doesn’t stand out much.
Overall, the model is probably worth taking a look at if you’re a fan of the MINI brand in general. Just don’t go expecting it to be a ground-breaking car in many noticeable ways.
Images via MINI
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