Fans of the MINI Countryman will, for the first time, finally have a plug-in hybrid option offered to them for the 2017 model year, the automaker announced during the vehicle’s debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
When it arrives in the spring of 2017, the “Maxi-MINI” will be available with a choice of two gasoline engines, with the plug-in hybrid arriving later.
As has been the trend since the ’60s, the MINI just keeps on growing. The new Countryman is bigger than ever: it’s significantly longer and wider, with a 7.5-centimetre-stretched wheelbase. As MINI continues trying to make its cars appeal to a wider audience, pushing both up-market and down, this more spacious compact SUV should provide a huge boost to the brand in Canada.
Compared to last year, MINI sales are down slightly, by 1.5 percent. MINI will be hoping larger, more versatile all-wheel-drive models like the newly landed ALL4 Clubman and this Countryman will turn its fortunes around.
The new plug-in hybrid model is called – deep breath – the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4. Got that? What it means is that this little SUV can drive 40 kilometres on electric power without burning a drop of gasoline. The electric motor powers the rear wheels while the three-cylinder from the base Countryman powers the front. Combined output is a healthy 221 horsepower.
The two gasoline engines will be familiar from the rest of the lineup. The base Cooper gets the three-cylinder 1.5-litre, good for 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. As good as that engine is in the three-door Cooper, we don’t expect scintillating performance from it in this porky SUV. The Cooper S gets the four-cylinder 2.0-litre motor which puts out 189 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque.
They’ll be available with optional ALL4 all-wheel drive, and a choice of three gearboxes: a six-speed manual, or six- or eight-speed paddle-shift automatic. MINI claims despite the new car’s larger footprint, the Cooper S will sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 7.2 seconds, which is nearly a second quicker than the previous model.
As you’d expect for a larger vehicle, passenger and cargo space are increased, the latter by a whopping 220 litres compared to the old model.
Pricing has yet to be announced. The outgoing Countryman starts at $29,950, so that’s a good guess for the new one as well.
There’s a new touchscreen infotainment system, as well as something called MINI Find Mate. (It’s not a dating service.) Using tags you can attach to keys or bags, the MINI can track the location of your valuables, either from the in-car screen or from a smartphone app. PKW, people: phone, keys, wallet. The new MINI Countryman, however, is too big to lose.