EV Review: 2018 MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

 In Electric Cars

Introduction

There aren’t many cars as iconic in appearance as the MINI brand. It has an inherent character as a fun car; one that you’ll grin ear to ear driving every time you’re behind the wheel. What MINI isn’t known for is practicality. Sure, the fuel economy is relatively alright on most models. But when it comes down to making a car that’s for more than just driving pleasure, MINI has rarely – if ever – been a good choice. That might be changing with the introduction of the 2018 MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4.

Yes, the name is a mouthful. It’s known more intimately as the MINI Countryman PHEV, and its moniker is much easier to handle. Aside from its lengthy name, the Countryman PHEV has the makings of a real and true utility vehicle. No kidding.

It’s compared most closely to the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, a compact crossover SUV. That means the MINI Countryman PHEV is a more capable vehicle than its Cooper S two-door hatchback. It’s a four-door crossover with higher ground clearance, remarkable cargo capacity, and best of all, it has all-wheel drive as standard equipment. This new MINI model might be the start of a new breed of MINIs.

Exterior styling

It’s undeniably a MINI. The 2018 MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 has the uncanny ability to look the same as every MINI vehicle, yet different at the same time. It has the normal trapezoidal grille, MINI-styled headlights, and short hood and abbreviated overhangs. It has semi-circular textured plastic wheel arches, a straight window beltline, dart-like chrome door pull handles, and the two-toned paint you’ve come to expect from MINI cars.

But there are a few unique touches. It has aluminum-colored rockers and a longer, wider-opening rear door than any other MINI. There are a bunch of wheel designs available to suit your fancy. And most importantly, there’s a charging port mounted on the left front fender where a false louver would otherwise be.

Fit and finish interior

In a typical MINI Cooper, the backseat is there for posterity sake, not for use. In the Countryman PHEV, you can truly seat five adults in the car without stacking them up. The non-electric Countryman has a rear seat that slides back and forth for extra legroom but, due to battery space constraints, the Countryman PHEV loses that option. It’s not horrible, but the extra 5 inches would make a big difference.

But that’s not where you’ll be sitting. The driver’s seat is where the MINI Cooper Countryman ALL4 excels. Heated sport seats wrapped in leatherette are standard, but the upgrade to a diamond-stitched leather is a great choice. You can add flair to the interior if you’d like with a JCW, checkered flag, or Union Jack mirror cap.

To make the driving experience better, there’s an available dual-panel panoramic moonroof for a bit of fresh air. And where entertainment is concerned, a standard-equipment MINI Connected system with a 6.5-inch screen and touch controller or an optional 8.8-inch screen with 3D Navigation and Harman Kardon sound system can be found inside.

Technology is everywhere too. You can equip your MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 with an optional Head-UP Display unit or select a model with Driving Assistant including Forward Collision Mitigation and other driver-assistive features.

Driving Experience

With plug-in hybrid vehicles, the expectation is that they will be slower and sloppier than their non-electric counterparts, mainly because onboard batteries jack up the weight significantly. But that theory goes out the window with the 2018 MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4. You could make a case for this car being MORE fun than its gas-only sibling.

Acceleration is impressive in electric-only mode at just under eight seconds from 0 to 60mph. That’s plenty fast for a compact crossover of this size. It’s a strange feeling though, accelerating in MAX eDRIVE mode without hearing the engine RPMs rising. Under electric-only power, the MINI Countryman PHEV is rated to go 26 miles on a full charge, but it’s more like 19 miles in real-world conditions. It has regenerative braking, as you’d expect, but with a short range, it doesn’t make much of a difference. One of the most exciting parts of the MINI Countryman PHEV’s performance is the rear-wheel-drive operation in electric mode.

What you’ll certainly feel is the nimble, athletic driving experience you’ve come to expect from MINI. When the gas-powered engine kicks in, the combined 224 horsepower and ALL4 all-wheel drive make the Countryman PHEV a capable crossover. While you won’t be doing any rock-climbing, you could easily boot down a dirt road without a worry.

Features

MSRP $36,800 USD
Type PHEV
Electric Range 26 miles / 42 km
Total Range 270 miles / 437 km
Time to Charge 2.5 hours (Level 2)
Electric Motor 65 kW
Battery Capacity 7.6 kWh
Top Speed 119 mph / 193 km/h
Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles or 80,000 km

Conclusion

The 2018 MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 has the heartbeat of every MINI vehicle. It’s still an incredibly enjoyable vehicle to drive. It sits higher and is more capable than other MINIs with standard AWD. It has an all-electric range of 26 miles, which doesn’t get you very far before the gas engine kicks in. But likely, the Countryman PHEV will be a car chosen by city drivers, and the electric range will probably be sufficient for their needs.

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