RAC Cars News


Mini previews new Countryman and electric hybrid

By raccars Published

Mini Countryman

New Countryman range to include Mini’s first ever all-electric and rear-wheel-drive car.

Mini is set to launch its first ever all-electric production car in the form of a plug-in hybrid Countryman, which can drive at speeds of as much as 80mph on electricity alone.

Development of the Mini Countryman hybrid is almost complete and it will also become the first ever rear-wheel-drive Mini to go on sale. In full electric vehicle mode, the rear wheels are driven by the electric motor, whilst the combustion engine drives the front wheels. This creates a true hybrid all-wheel-drive Countryman.

Fun and practicality on offer

Mini is convinced that it has given the Mini hybrid the fun factor. The technology used is similar to that which is used in BMW’s 330e, which is a derivative of the i3. Mini says it has a fun focus in addition to offering the efficiency that many people want from a hybrid car.

The Mini Countryman hybrid does not differ greatly from the standard Countryman - apart from the electric motor, of course. There is a glowing yellow starter button instead of a red one and the rev counter is replaced by a power display.

The car always starts in electric mode and there is a multi-mode system that can be set to Auto eDrive, which allows the car to get to 50mph and then kicks in the engine. The Max eDrive setting, meanwhile, increases this to 77mph before the engine starts.

A teaser for the new Mini Countryman

In showing off its new hybrid, Mini has also been teasing the new Countryman, which will be available to buy next year and will be the largest Mini ever to go on sale. This Mini SUV is set to take on the likes of the Seat Ateca and will boast a larger luggage capacity and more interior space. Other rivals include the Skoda Yeti, the Kia Soul, and the Suzuki Sx4 S-Cross, as well as premium choices such as the BMW X1, the Audi Q3 and the VW Tiguan.

The engine choice will be largely carried over from the current Countryman. This means that there will be 1.6-litre diesel and petrol choices, together with the more powerful 2.0 diesel. There will be a Turbo Cooper S 1.6 petrol option and there looks set to be an automatic choice as well as a six-speed manual transmission. Four-wheel-drive will also be available on some models.

The new Countryman will be based on the original Mini Clubman’s underpinnings and won’t be an official off-roader, despite its SUV styling. Meanwhile, Mini hasn’t yet confirmed details about the interior of the new Countryman but it is likely to share the same fittings and fixtures as the newest Mini hatchback and should feature the BMW iDrive navigation and infotainment system.

Prices of the new Countryman

Starting prices for the new Countryman are set to be around the £22,500 mark, which is significantly higher than the price tag of the current car. This has a starting price of just £17,125. The hotter Cooper SD, meanwhile, will cost from about £27,000 and buyers prepared to wait for the sportiest Countryman JCW will probably have to pay at least £30,000.

Mini has ambitions to push its cars upmarket, something which is reflected by the price of the new Countryman as it will cost far more than some of the most popular small SUVs which are already on the market. The Nissan Qashqai has a starting price of £18,545, for example, whilst the Seat Ateca costs from £17,990.

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