The 2018 MINI Countryman is the biggest MINI ever, featuring 30 percent more cargo space than the previous Countryman, more front and rear legroom, and greater headroom and rear seat shoulder room for five occupants. Adding to the model’s appeal is the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4, a new plug-in hybrid variant that starts at $36,800.
The all-wheel drive Countryman ALL4 eDrive adds an 87-horsepower, 122 lb-ft torque electric motor to the MINI TwinPower engine for greater performance and efficiency. The turbocharged, direct injection 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine is rated at 134 horsepower. Altogether, combined system output adds up to an available 221 horsepower and 284 lb-ft torque.
With its ‘through-the-road’ all-wheel drive architecture, the Countryman SE ALL4 uses its gasoline engine to power the front wheels via a modified 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission. The synchronous electric motor housed beneath the luggage compartment floor delivers power to the rear axle via a two-stage, single-speed transmission.
This powertrain setup is linked to the vehicle’s Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system that analyzes both the road situation and the driver’s wishes. When it detects excessive slip, both the gasoline engine and electric motor are engaged. The ALL4 all-wheel-drive system features a power take-off integrated into the front axle differential, a propeller shaft leading to the rear axle, and a hang-on clutch that ensures precisely measured transmission of drive torque to the rear wheels.
A 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery is located beneath the slightly raised rear seat, as is a 9.5-gallon fuel tank. The PHEV has an EPA estimated all-electric range of 12 miles on batteries, with a total range of 270 miles on gasoline-electric power. Charging at 240-volts takes 3 hours and 15 minutes.
An intelligent energy management system ensures that engine and motor use is optimized for both driving fun and efficiency. The driver can also use the MINI’s eDrive toggle switch to choose between three operating modes. In AUTO eDRIVE, the PHEV operates in electric-only mode at speeds up to 55 mph. At higher speeds and under intensive loads, the engine automatically starts. In MAX eDRIVE power is delivered by the electric motor alone at up to 78 mph, with the engine started at higher speeds or upon kickdown. SAVE BATTERY mode can be selected to conserve battery capacity or raise its charge state to at least 90 percent while driving.
A Technology Package includes a new 8.8-inch touchscreen navigation system, a new-generation user interface and operating system, and Qi wireless device charging capability. The MINI’s standard rear-view camera and rear Park Distance Control can be extended to include front parking sensors and a Parking Assistant feature for easy parallel parking.
Those interested in driver assist systems are not forgotten. A MINI Driving Assistant option includes collision warning with a city braking function, pedestrian warning with initial brake function, and road sign detection. Camera-based adaptive cruise control enables cruise control function that senses the vehicle ahead and adjusts speed accordingly, making longer distance drives that much more pleasurable.