Electric MINI Countryman range, specs and prototype review
Third-generation Countryman will be the biggest MINI yet and sit on the same platform as the BMW iX1
The all-new electric MINI Countryman has been spotted testing, months before it was due to be revealed at the Munich Motor Show in September.
Pictured during what is thought to be a promotional shoot – like its smaller MINI Cooper sibling only a couple of weeks ago – the next generation MINI crossover is slightly larger than the outgoing car and will be offered in petrol and fully electric forms. We’ve already been given a chance to ride shotgun in a pre-production model – keep reading for our first impressions.
The new MINI Countryman will be the first of a string of new models launched over the next year or so. Following the Kia Niro EV and Volkswagen ID.4 rival will be all-new petrol and electric versions of the MINI Hatch – both called the MINI Cooper – plus a smaller Aceman SUV designed to sit somewhere in between. The Aceman EV will take the fight to cars like the forthcoming Jeep Avenger and Vauxhall Mokka Electric.
As mentioned, the new third-generation Countryman will be offered with both petrol and electric power – just like the new MINI Cooper. Based on the BMW X1, the EV version of MINI’s range topper will likely use the iX1’s 64.7kWh battery, which should translate to a range of around 280 miles. We’ve got more details on the MINI’s range and charging specifications below.
As you can see from the latest spy photos, the new MINI Countryman retains the same general shape as the outgoing car, but with much more minimalistic detailing. Like the Aceman concept, the third-generation Countryman gets squared-off headlights – these flank a blanked-off grille on the electric model, with plastic body cladding aiming to provide a more rugged look.
Other than the evolution of the old car’s controversial Union Flag tail-lights, another controversial design feature of the new Countryman is the extra piece of trim that protrudes downwards behind the C-pillar. This is reminiscent of the ‘Signature graphic’ on the side of the new Land Rover Defender and houses an ‘ALL4’ badge, hinting that the range-topping Countryman SE model will lift the iX1’s a four-wheel-drive dual-motor powertrain.
While we’ve sat and ridden in the new Countryman, the dashboard was left largely covered for our entire drive. We know the car will get a nine-inch circular screen, however, and carry over key design cues like the toggle switches found in all MINI models.
The outgoing Countryman measures close to 4.3 metres long, but its replacement is due to grow to almost 4.5 metres. The smaller MINI Aceman electric SUV will bridge the gap between the Countryman and three-door Hatch in MINI’s EV line-up.
Range and charging
Underneath the retro-inspired bodywork will be the same FAAR platform used by the new BMW iX1 compact electric SUV, with the running gear from BMW’s new entry-level EV expected to be carried over wholesale – the iX1’s 64.7kWh battery in particular.
Back in 2017, MINI claimed the electric Countryman would offer a range of around 280 miles and the iX1’s 270-mile official range would tally with this. That would put the MINI on par with the Niro EV’s 285-mile range, but unable to match the ID.4’s 323-mile maximum. The electric Countryman should also inherit the iX1’s respectable 130kW rapid charging speeds, which allow for a 10-80% top-up in 29 minutes.
Prices and specs
So far, only the dual-motor version of the iX1 has been introduced, with all-wheel drive, 309bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds. We expect this will be the powertrain used by the range-topping Countryman EV that’ll likely wear the ‘ALL4’ badge used by the existing Countryman, while the base model will feature just one electric motor likely driving the front wheels only.
With the iX1 costing upwards of £50,000, we expect (and hope) the Countryman will significantly undercut its BMW brother, going toe-to-toe with rivals like the Niro and ID.4. In order to do this, an entry-level MINI would need to come in at around £40,000, with powerful all-wheel drive range-toppers commanding a premium.
The new Countryman will be built in BMW’s plant in Leipzig, Germany alongside the BMW 1 Series, 2 Series Gran Coupe and 2 Series Active Tourer MPV.
MINI Countryman EV prototype ride review
To get a taste of what’s to come, we joined MINI for a ride in the new Countryman, as its engineers prepare to sign off the much-hyped electric SUV. The car has been tested in all climates from the South of France to northern Sweden, but we joined the programme in Austria to see how the car performs on-road.
The first thing you notice is how much bigger the MINI feels inside. The Countryman has grown by 130mm, but it’s also 60mm taller. This makes it roomier in both the front and rear, but it’s also now much easier to get in and out. The dashboard remains covered for our ride, yet we could see the circular touchscreen and familiar toggle switches are set to remain.
On the road, MINI has tried to make the new car more comfortable without losing the Countryman’s sense of fun; the EV seems to round off bumps and potholes with greater decorum than before. We sit alongside driving dynamics engineer Simon Kruger, who tells us MINI has been trying to find the “perfect compromise” when it comes to ride and handling.
With 309bhp, the new Countryman certainly isn’t lacking punch, and pins us in our seat as Kruger floors the accelerator. In its sportiest ‘Go Kart’ driving mode the SUV gets a synthesised engine sound that replicates fast MINIs of old; a sort of growl as you gain speed, with pops and bangs when you lift off. It’s one of the most engaging setups we’ve experienced – and more enjoyable than you might expect.
It’s also interesting to note quite how flat the car stays through faster cornering. Despite being longer and taller than before, it refuses to lean, with good grip from the ALL4 dual-motor all-wheel drive system. It’s clear the car has grown up without losing its sense of fun.
Kruger tells us they’re nearly done with the car’s development, with only a few software tweaks needed – specifically to the steering – before the Countryman goes into production in November this year.
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