The 2019 S E Countryman ALL4 is the plug-in hybrid model of the MINI Countryman and the first-ever for the brand. It has the cuteness and quickness of the traditional MINI but with a short all-electric range of 12 miles, plus a regular gas engine and standard all-wheel-drive. However, none of this comes cheap.
The S E Countryman ALL4 is available in three trims: Classic, Signature and Iconic. Starting prices range from $36,900 to $44,400. That’s quite a bit more than the gas-powered Countryman with starting prices ranging from $26,900 to $37,900.
On the outside, it looks a lot like its gas-powered siblings with the exception of neon yellow side view mirrors, a yellow door that houses the plug-in port, an “e” badge on the side, and a yellow “S” on the rear.
The S E Countryman ALL4 is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine that makes 134 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque combined with an electric motor that makes 87 hp and 122 lb.-ft. Total output is 221 horses and 264 lb.-ft. The powertrain is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. MINI says total range is up to 270 miles. The lithium-ion battery is located right in front of the electric motor underneath the rear seat.
There are three drive modes. Auto eDrive is all-electric driving up to 50 mph, and the gas engine kicks in at higher speeds and/or when accelerating quickly or when the battery charge falls below seven per cent. MAX eDrive is all-electric driving up to 78 mph with the gas engine enabled at higher speeds. Save Battery powers the car by only the combustion engine and the battery charge state is kept above 90 percent or raised to this level so that you will have all-electric driving at a later time.
The S E Countryman ALL4 is fun to drive. It’s quick off the line, starting with electric power. Then the gas engine kicks in as necessary. Shifts are smooth. Braking, however, is less satisfactory. The brakes are sensitive at slower speeds. But if you’re traveling at a faster pace, be ready to hit the brakes hard. Of course, many hybrids and EVs have a different feel when you hit the brakes due to the regenerative braking but this is more extreme than most. The ride is pretty comfortable but you will notice bumps and rough roads. Visibility is good all the way around.
While the S E Countryman ALL4 supposedly has an all-electric range of 12 miles, I wasn’t usually able to achieve that, even with normal and/or economical driving. I’d get closer to nine to 10 miles before the battery would be drained. Charging time on a Level 2 240-volt plug is about 3 hours and 15 minutes.
EPA ratings for the hybrid are 65 MPGe combined using electric and gas power, and 27 MPG combined with just the gas engine. I got 30 MPG during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The upscale interior is cute and stylish, as you’d expect in a MINI. Of course, you’ll find the large round display, accent lighting and toggle switches MINI is known for. The sport seats offer good support and comfort to the front passengers. Those seated in both rows will have decent leg- and headroom, considering this is a subcompact SUV.
The Countryman has a new multimedia system that now has a touchscreen. It looks great but could be more user-friendly. There are still several menus and sub-menus and some of the icons don’t clearly portray their functions. Apple CarPlay is available on new models.
Standard features include a 6.5-inch infotainment screen, panoramic roof, and six-speaker audio system.
Optional features include keyless entry, leather seating, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8.8-inch touchscreen, rear spoiler, LED headlights with cornering, navigation, wireless charging, and Apple CarPlay (but no Android Auto). Available driver assistance systems include forward-collision warning and emergency braking.
The S E Countryman ALL4 has 17.4 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place and 47.4 cubes with the second row folded. That’s below average for the class. Still, there’s enough room for some overnight bags or a few items you pick up at a Costco run. The boxy shape and the sliding and folding rear seats mean you can actually haul some good-size items. A power liftgate is available.
Potential for good fuel efficiency
Surprisingly spacious second row
Upscale and cute interior
Apple CarPlay is available
EV range of only 12 miles
My tester starts at $36,900. PHEV Sport Edition package is $2,900 and adds power-folding mirrors, power liftgate, universal garage door opener, keyless entry, black roof rails, panoramic moonroof, heated front seats, MINI Excitement Package, automatic climate control, LED fog lights, Led headlights with cornering, Active Driving Assistant, harman/kardon premium audio system and all-season tires. The Touchscreen Navigation Package is $1,700 and adds Advanced RTTI, remote services, Apple CarPlay, MINI Connected, MINI Connected XL, wireless charging and MINI navigation. The JCW Appearance Package is $2,000 and adds 18-inch JCW Thrill spoke wheels, JCW leather steering wheel, rear spoiler, John Cooper Works aero kit and headliner in Anthracite. Exterior package is $275. PHEV Special Edition is $1,125. Destination charge is $850 bringing the grand total to $45,750.
The S E Countryman ALL4 will appeal to MINI fans who want all the fun and cuteness but with better fuel efficiency and the ability to go all-electric on shorter drives. However its steep price may make potential buyers look elsewhere.