Mini has announced it is ‘charging ahead’ into a plug-in hybrid future, beginning with the 2017 Countryman.
The aim of the 2017 Countryman Hybrid, announced officially for the first time, is to offer the fun of a Mini with zero tailpipe emissions. It will be the first plug-in hybrid from the BMW-owned marque, but not the first electric vehicle as that distinction went to the second-generation Cooper hatchback back in 2009.
The 2017 Countryman Hybrid will share the same platform and underpinnings as the standard car and even the same engine, a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol, but with an electric motor and battery providing the eco-friendly side of things.
Mini is yet to announce exact figures for engine output, but Autocar sources claim BMW is aiming for that of the 225xe, which delivers 134bhp and 162lb/ft of torque from the petrol motor and 87bhp and 122lb/ft from the electric motor for a total of 221bhp and 284lb/ft.
The battery range of the Countryman Hybrid is said to be 25 miles, meaning you can go around 25 miles before ever needing to use a sip of petrol. When the car is started, the electric motor is prioritised providing, of course, there is enough charge to use it.
Recharging the 7.6kWh lithium ion battery is done by sticking a charger lead into the socket located diagonally above the front left wheel. The charging time is currently unclear but around three hours from a dedicated wall charging unit seems likely.
Three driving modes will be selectable, with the Auto eDrive allowing all-electric driving at up to 50mph, while the Max eDrive works up to 78mph, beyond which the petrol motor kicks in. The third mode prioritises using the engine to recharge the battery for electric propulsion later.
The electric motor sends power to the rear wheels and, at the hint of any traction loss, the petrol motor drives the front wheels, helping it pull away in slippery conditions.
“With this model we want to convince MINI customers of the benefits of hybrid drive and impress everyone who already has hybrid driving experience with MINI’s unique go-kart driving feel,” said head of Mini brand management Sebastian Mackensen.
The Countryman Hybrid will go on sale in 2017. A full electric version of the Cooper hatchback is expected in 2019 as part of a diversification into new powertrains so expect lots of hybrid-related announcements going forward.