Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Public Debut Comes at LA Auto Show

Following its online debut in October, Mini’s 2017 Countryman S E ALL4 plug-in hybrid made its first public appearance at the Los Angeles auto show in November. It marks the Mini brand’s second foray into the plug world, a belated follow up to the all-electic Mini E demonstration project of 2009-10.

Coming soon, a Mini you can plug in

The new Countryman borders on a Not-So-Mini by growing larger in every direction. Head, shoulder and leg room expand for both front and rear occupants. The cargo space grows the most, expanding by 30 percent compared to the outgoing model.

While it still looks like a Mini, beneath the sheet metal is the BMW-owned company’s first plug-in model.

The powertrain consists of a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine powering the front wheels, a six-speed automatic transmission and an electric motor that serves the rear wheels.

Mini states that total system output is 221 horsepower and 284 pounds-feet of torque, getting the Countryman plug-in hybrid from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, and on to a top speed of 137 mph. Mini added that: “For this reason, the first Mini plug-in hybrid model is not solely focused on efficiency, but uncompromising in pursuit of driving fun.

A 7.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack mounted under the rear seats provides enough juice for an electric-only range of 24 miles, at speeds up to 77 mph.

The Hybrid Gets Its Own AWD System

The hybrid features a unique version of Mini’s ALL4 all-wheel drive system. Only one system (electric or gas) will work at a time, unless the conditions require four driven wheels.

The car can operate in three distinct modes, one of which will hold the battery at 90 percent charge until the driver wants to use it.

Inside, the fun toggle switches are still there, and, without checking boxes, the 2017 Mini Countryman plug-in hybrid will include keyless entry, leather upholstery, sunroof, Mini Connected

All the fun Mini interior features remain

infotainment system, rearview camera, rear parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity.

This second-generation Countryman will also be offered with two familiar gasoline engines—a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder unit, and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo motor.

The gas-powered Countryman goes on sale in March 2017, while the hybrid is set to arrive shortly thereafter in June. As for pricing or MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent, which factors in the electric-only driving), Mini’s not talking yet.

Larry E. Hall is Managing Editor & Editor-at-Large at Smarticd. His interest and passion for automobiles began at age 7, cleaning engine parts for his father, a fleet manager for a regional bakery. He has written about cars and the automobile industry for more than 25 years and has focused his attention on “green” cars and advanced technology vehicles. Larry’s articles have been published by Microsoft’s MSNBC.com and MSN Autos as their alternative vehicles correspondent and Senior Editor at HybridCars.com. He is the founding president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association and a member of the Motor Press Guild.

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