The 2018 MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is all new for 2018 and is the first plug-in hybrid produced by MINI. On paper, it makes sense to offer a plug-in hybrid version of the Mini Cooper Countryman to appeal to would-be buyers who’d like a more environmentally friendly version of the cute subcompact SUV. But in reality, it’s a bit of a head scratcher.
The all-electric range is only 12 miles. And the sticker price approaches 40-grand, which is the most expensive vehicle in the MINI line-up. That’s a lot for a vehicle that I like to call a dorm room on wheels. (it’s cute, it’s fun, it’s hip, but you may get tired of it after about a year.)
MINI says it’s optional to plug it in, saying it will offer some improved fuel economy but that you don’t’ have to plug it in every night if you don’t get around to it. If you do decide to charge it up every night, it only takes a few hours with a regular 110/120V outlet to get a full charge.
The plug-in MINI Cooper Countryman starts at $36,800, compared with a range of $26,600 to $31,700 for the gasoline-powered models. It does, however, come with a longer list of standard features compared to the regular MINI models.
It’d be tough to make up that difference with gains in fuel efficiency as the plug-in MINI gets only slightly better gas mileage with an EPA combined rating of 27 mpg when running in hybrid mode. It gets 65 mpg-equivalent under electric power, but again, the range is very limited at only 12 miles. If you drive conservatively and not with a lead foot, you can get better mileage. I got nearly 31 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
On the other hand, it may appeal to buyers who want a MINI and a tax credit for buying a hybrid. And it would be a fun daily driver for folks with short commutes who want the option of running on electric power.
The five-passenger plug-in MINI Cooper Countryman is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine and an electric motor that combine to make 221 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque. The MINI starts up in all-electric power, then combines the two when more power is needed, and running on the gas-only engine at higher speeds. The powertrain is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The switch between the two powertrains occurs seamlessly and quietly. In fact, the gasoline engine is so quiet that you really had to listen carefully to hear it turn on.
The plug-in MINI is heavier than its gas-powered siblings so it’s not as zippy, but it’s still enjoyable to drive. You’ll notice some body lean when cornering. Overall, the ride is pretty smooth but can be a bit jarring on rough roads.
The interior is fun and upscale as you’d expect in a MINI. Materials are mostly soft-touch. The gauges are all circular. I had one friend wryly comment that they reminded her of the dials on her washing machine. They are definitely a conversation starter! Seats are comfortable and two average-sized adults will have enough room in the second row.
You can get the same Technology ($2,250) and Convenience ($750) packages for the plug-in MINI at the same cost as the other trims The Premium package is $3,000 compared to $2,000 for the regular MINIs. It adds a panoramic moonroof in addition to the power-adjustable front seats, power liftgate and Harman Kardon audio system on the regular MINIs.
Hey, it’s a plug-in MINI Cooper Countryman!
Super cute compact crossover
Long list of standard features
Very expensive for what it is
All-electric range of only 12 miles
My tester starts at $36,800. The Melting Silver metallic paint is $500. Parking Assist is $500. MINI Head-up Display is $750. SiriusXM Radio with one-year subscription is $300. Destination charge is $850 bringing the grand total to $39,700.
This is the car for someone who wants a MINI and an EV. For now, it’s the first step in an electrified line-up for MINI.