The new MINI Countryman has a hybrid

By topgear, 18 October 2016

MINI has announced it's making a plug-in hybrid, and this picture suggests it's a variant of the all-new Countryman SUV.

The second-gen Countryman arrives in the next couple of weeks, and like the BMW 2 Series people carrier it shares its platform with, there'll be a petrol-electric version, too.

MINI hasn't disclosed details of the powertrain itself, but if it's the same as the BMW 225xe's, it will involve the MINI Cooper's 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine powering the front axle, and an electric motor taking care of the rear. Kind of like a backwards BMW i8...

"In a hybrid MINI model, driving electrically must also be an exhilarating experience," says MINI's Sebastian Mackensen. "This means that entirely electric driving is not limited to speeds of 30-40km/h, but to speeds well beyond city traffic pace."

Indeed, driving fun is something MINI is keen people associate with its hybrid, with many, many mentions of 'go-kart feeling'. This does not mean you have to put a weird sock over your head before popping on a helmet, or that eager 14-year-olds will push you into the gravel at every corner. Rather, that it will be a laugh to drive.

It will be rear-drive only when the electric motor is doing all the work, though the stability control systems can kick the engine (and hence the front axle) into life to counter any skids.

MINI wants the car to resemble any other Countryman, too, with the only tell-tale signs being an additional filler cap, a starter button that flashes yellow (instead of red) and a power reserve meter in place of the rev-counter.

STORY Stephen Dobie

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