The Malta Independent 15 December 2017, Friday

Driving the new MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

John Peel Tuesday, 26 September 2017, 15:52 Last update: about 4 months ago

For those not familiar with the 'E' and ALL4, as I was before venturing out in this superb vehicle, this is not 'just another' Mini. This is MINI's first ever plug-in hybrid model (E) with an innovative driving experience due to the electrified all-wheel drive system (4x4).

Not being your run of the mill, internal combustion engined vehicle it does take a while to take in all the different modes on tap and with limited time available I opted to 'let it drive me' instead. 

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Propulsion is shared between a 3-cylinder petrol engine and a synchronous electric motor. Together they produce a system output of 224 bhp. Equally impressive is the average fuel consumption quoted at 134.5 mpg and the CO2 emissions figure of 49 grams per kilometre (EU test cycle figures for plug-in hybrid vehicles), yet also enabling a 0-62 mph time of just 6.9 seconds!

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is the perfect vehicle for those who wish to enjoy the benefits of purely electric mobility when commuting between home and work every day for example, while at the same time benefiting from unlimited long-distance suitability at the weekend.

The plug-in hybrid drive of the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 combines the best of a 3-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor. The space under the bonnet is occupied by a 3-cylinder petrol engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology from the latest generation of the BMW Group engines. From a capacity of 1.5 litres this provides a peak output of 136 bhp. In the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4, the combustion engine is combined with a modified 6-speed Steptronic transmission which transfers its power to the front wheels.

The second power unit of the MINI S E Countryman ALL4 is an electric motor that is housed under the luggage compartment floor. Designed according to the principle of a hybrid synchronous motor, the electric drive offers a high output of 88 bhp -considering the size and weight of the car - and generates a maximum torque of 165 Nm that is available from standing. In addition, it provides constant power delivery even during high engine speed ranges as well as a very high level of efficiency. The electric motor directs its power to the rear axle via a two-stage single-speed transmission.

Only one of the two power units is used when the car is moving, while the other one can be additionally enabled at any time to optimise traction, ride stability and agility. The signal required for this purpose comes from the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) unit, which continuously analyses both the situation on the road and the commands of the driver.  

Thanks to the compact structure and arrangement of the eDrive components, the plug-in hybrid model variant of the new MINI Countryman has a versatile interior. The high-voltage battery is housed underneath the slightly raised rear seat, as is the 35-litre fuel tank. When all seats are in use, the luggage compartment volume in the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is only slightly less than in the conventionally powered model variants.

Discreet but equally unmistakable indications of the car's unique drive form are provided by the model-specific design features on the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 exterior. The connection for the charging cable is under a flap in the area of the left-hand side scuttle. Other features are the model-specific "e" badge on the side scuttles and also a yellow "S" in the model inscription on the rear as well as on the radiator grille and door sill finishers.

Inside, the cockpit includes a yellow start/stop unit at the centre of the toggle switch panel and a performance display in the instrument cluster on the steering column.

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 comes as standard with the MINI Visual boost Radio featuring a 6.5-inch colour screen in the central instrument. This displays information such as the charge state of the high-voltage battery and operating mode of the hybrid drive selected by eDrive toggle switch. In conjunction with the optional Media package including MINI navigation system XL, operation is via an 8.8-inch screen with a new graphic design and touchscreen function as well as via the Touch Controller in the centre console.

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 combines highly efficient driving fun with versatile space and all the other advancements that characterise the new edition of the all-round model for the premium compact segment. Its powerfully expressive design and optimised use of space are just as striking as its increased ride comfort and refined premium ambience. 

The MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 comes with the MINI Driving Modes as standard. Regardless of the operating mode selected via eDrive toggle switch, the vehicle set-up can be adapted to a particularly sporty or efficient driving style, according to preference.

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