MINI Countryman hybrid review
The MINI Countryman plug-in hybrid is not only pretty cheap to run – particularly for business drivers – it’s desirable and good to drive, too
- Fun to drive
- Brand appeal
- Useful electric range
- Inefficient once battery runs out
- Not the most practical
- Expensive options
|Car type||Electric range||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions|
|Plug-in hybrid||29-32 miles||149-166mpg||40-44g/km|
The MINI Countryman plug-in hybrid's full name is the Countryman Cooper S E ALL4, and it was one of the first plug-in family SUVs around - but thanks to a mid-2020 refresh, it's still a competitive option for those looking for a family car with low tax costs and the potential for running on electric power alone. The recent update changed the styling a bit, added a bit more power, improved efficiency and upgraded the in-car tech.
Alternatives to the Countryman include the Kia Niro PHEV and Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In, or even the plug-in versions of larger family SUVs such as the Peugeot 3008 and Cupra Formentor. The Toyota C-HR is another interesting option, as despite not being a plug-in hybrid, it does have an electric motor and could be great for those who can't plug in easily.
The performance on offer here means that MINI has added the Cooper S name, and four-wheel drive means it gets the ALL4 branding too. It's pretty quick off the mark: 0-62mph takes just 6.8 seconds, thanks to the combined efforts of its 1.5-litre petrol engine and electric motor. The power figure dropped from 224 to 217bhp as part of the 2020 update, most likely for emissions regulations reasons.
The four-wheel drive system works by using the engine to drive the front wheels and the electric motor to drive the rear ones. It's hardly an off-roader but the extra traction in poor conditions could be useful. CO2 emissions are as low as 40g/km depending on spec, make the MINI attractive to company-car users. Until October 2021, the car will qualify for free access to the London Congestion Charge zone, too.
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.
The Countryman is a practical car for families, even if there have been some sacrifices 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 per cent 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 pounds. 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...
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe MINI Countryman plug-in hybrid is not only pretty cheap to run – particularly for business drivers – it’s desirable and good to drive, too
- 2MPG & CO2 emissionsA useful 30-mile range and low CO2 emissions make the Countryman competitive; real-world fuel efficiency will vary
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe MINI Countryman hybrid will be cheap to run, especially for company-car users, but comparable rivals are a bit cheaper
- 4Performance, engine & driveOne of the best plug-in hybrid SUVs to drive, but the ride is on the firmer side
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortWell designed and with good infotainment, the Countryman's interior is comfortable and solid
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThe MINI Countryman hybrid is one of the more practical plug-ins and should be big enough for small families
- 7Reliability & safety ratingGood crash-test results and low fault rates bode well, but you'll have to pay extra for extra safety systems