MINI Countryman hybrid review

The Countryman plug-in is not only cheap to run – particularly for business drivers – it’s desirable and good to drive, too

£32,980 - £35,280
Plug-in hybrid

Pros

  • Fun to drive
  • Brand appeal
  • Useful electric range

Cons

  • Inefficient once battery runs out
  • Not the most practical
  • Expensive options
Car type Electric range MPG CO2
Plug-in hybrid 29–31 miles 148–166mpg 39–43g/km

The MINI Countryman Plug-In Hybrid Cooper S E ALL4 is the brand's offering in the hotly contested plug-in hybrid family SUV market. It was facelifted in mid-2020, getting fresh styling, a bit more power, improved efficiency and better on-board technology than before.

The Countryman is an alternative to the likes of the pure-hybrid Toyota C-HR, as well as plug-in hybrids like the Kia Niro PHEV and Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In. Other rivals include plug-in hybrid variants of larger rivals like the Peugeot 3008.

The car carries Cooper S badging, offering a clue to the performance on offer. Acceleration is punchy, with 0-62mph completed in 6.8 seconds, thanks to the combined efforts of its 1.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor. Power is down from 224 to 217bhp for 2020, most likely for emissions regulations reasons. 

In fact, while the petrol engine drives the front wheels, the electric motor works on the rear axle, giving this version of the Countryman 'ALL4' four-wheel drive.

Beyond those attractions, CO2 emissions as low as 39g/km depending on spec, make the car attractive to company-car users. For the time being, the MINI continues to qualify for free access to the London Congestion Charge zone. 

Changes for 2020 to the car's powertrain mean an improvement over the pre-facelift car when it comes to economy: up to 166mpg, versus the old car's claimed 157mpg. In reality, you'll need to keep the battery charged and be careful with your right foot to get anywhere close to the headline figure.

It's a practical car for families, even if there have been some sacrifices when compared to its petrol and diesel-powered siblings to get the battery pack and electric motor to fit. The rear seats are set slightly higher and no longer slide, while the boot shrinks by 10% to 405 litres – roughly on a par with a normal family hatchback like the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus.

But there’s still decent room in the back and the bench splits 40:20:40 to expand what space there is. Last, but not least, there are chunky roof rails for carrying roof boxes and cycle carriers.

Of course, as with any MINI, the Countryman offers all manner of opportunities for personalisation. Scan the brochure or price list and you’re bound to see packs and options that are sure to tempt you. You just have to be careful not to go too crazy, as pushing the list price beyond £40,000 will make the car liable for increased road tax, boosting your annual running costs by a few hundred quid. Still, with prices starting far lower than that, most buyers should be able to keep it within that threshold.

Overall, the Countryman is more desirable and fun to drive than just about any obvious rivals, but it's hampered by a patchy standard equipment list and expensive options.

For a more detailed look at the MINI Cooper S E ALL4, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.