2018 Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 review of plug-in hybrid Page 2

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2018 Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 plug-in hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, July 2017

2018 Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 plug-in hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, July 2017

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We found the plug-in hybrid Countryman to work decently as a hybrid, and careful driving could probably deliver better gas mileage than the rated 27 mpg.

We also found the 12-mile EPA-rated range at least realistic, unlike the ratings on other BMW plug-in hybrids with integrated and less powerful electric motors.

On the road, with charge in the battery it will accelerate away from a stop electrically, if not as fast as on engine and battery combined.

READ THIS: New 2017 Mini Countryman, including plug-in hybrid: 'biggest Mini yet'

The partly electric Countryman will also hold all-electric power all the way up to highway speeds if you pay attention and don't have aggressive drivers on your rear bumper.

The engine is small enough and so well noise-suppressed that we had to listen for the sound of it switching on.

The added noise was something of a whir from up beyond the firewall, not the predictable hybrid howl of a small and overstressed engine as in earlier hybrids

2018 Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 plug-in hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, July 2017

2018 Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 plug-in hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, July 2017

Enlarge Photo

We drove the plug-in hybrid Mini about 10 miles through Brooklyn largely on battery power, though the engine did switch on a couple of times and stay on until its emission-control system had warmed up.

In a couple of home recharging sessions, we got 8 to 11 miles out of the battery, driving on the sedate side of average.

We did conclude that the plug-in Mini has stronger electric performance than its BMW brethren, which will switch on the electric motor at the first hint of an uphill slope and seemingly if the driver breathes too deeply.

Plugging in the Countryman was pro forma, but we liked the pulsing green light around the charge port to indicate that the Mini was taking on current. It's noisy when it charges, though, with humming and a very audible fan.

At the end of our four-day, 240-mile test, we had logged 25.8 miles per gallon, a blended number that included more than 20 miles on electric power.

2018 Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 plug-in hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, July 2017

2018 Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 plug-in hybrid, Catskill Mountains, NY, July 2017

Enlarge Photo

For our return trip combining a full battery and then a steady highway run to New York City using cruise control, however, we did get a logged 40.6 mpg per the trip computer.

Overall, we're left with an impression of this car similar to the one we had for BMW's other low-range plug-in hybrids: it's a first draft on what will become a more capable, more interesting, and much more electric vehicle by 2020 or after. At least, we hope so.

In the end, we suspect the few buyers of what's likely a low-volume offering may never plug it in—as Mini says—and may be lured as much by the federal tax credit as by any of its electrified features.

CHECK OUT: How big is a new Mini? Big enough to fit the old one inside

Our 2018 Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 carried a base price of $36,800, which comes with a comprehensive list of standard equipment compared to lesser Mini models.

It had six options, of which the panoramic glass sunroof was the priciest at $1,000. The head-up display (which we'd recommend) was $750, the "Melting Silver Metallic" paint and the front-and-rear parking assist were each $500, and the Cooper S sport seats (also highly recommended) and the Sirius XM radio with one free trial year were each $300.

That gave us a final suggested retail price of $40,150 before the mandatory delivery fee was added.

Unlike other Mini models, the Mini Countryman is built in Born, The Netherlands; its engine and other components come from Germany, giving it 50 percent German content.

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