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Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4

Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4 plug-in hybrid put to the test

The Mini Cooper has a long tradition. In the times of the Suez crisis and the associated oil shortage, a Briton invented the small car in a new compact format. Alec Issigonis, designer at the British Motor Corporation, replaced the previously common rear-wheel drive with the space-consuming cardan tunnel with a front-wheel drive. And he installed the four-cylinder engine across the direction of travel. With the four-speed gearbox installed under the engine, Issigonis gained an additional 50 cm of space in the interior. The basic idea of ​​a spacious interior has been retained in the current version of the Mini. But the philosophy has clearly changed towards an urban lifestyle medium. Can the new Mini expand its image as a plug-in hybrid?

The story was yet to be told to the end. Because initially the original Mini was placed on tiny 10-inch wheels in small wheelhouses. The wheels were placed on the corners. With the external dimensions of 3048 mm in length and 1396 mm in width, an extremely compact car was placed on the tires. It looked like a cuboid that had been sucked round at the corners, they simply called it "mini".

The weight of the Cooper S was just 680 kilograms

In the end, Issigonis and a John Cooper should influence the top management at BMC in such a way that the sports car department dealt with the Mini. After the first unsuccessful outings in the RAC rally, that John Cooper planted a 1961 cubic centimeter engine in the drive department of the mini with an incredible 997 horsepower. And then the next larger unit with a displacement of 70 cubic centimeters and 1071 hp was launched. The speed mini was born, because the weight of the Cooper S was just 92 kilograms.
The rally era should be heralded with the new sports director Stuart Turner.

With the successful Finnish driver Rauno Aaltonen it was possible to win the Acropolis rally at least once. All the technical details such as independent suspension, a very light body, for example with aluminum doors, and the front-wheel drive resulted in a very agile driving behavior. All these details and the tradition can still be found in the descendants of the Mini Cooper today. And accordingly, the new model combines tradition and the beginning of new times. And so it is now, decorated in the best traditional “British Racing Green”, for the test with rally stripes in front of us. Ready for everyday life with the current plug-in hybrid drive.

Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4 Plug-In-Hybrid - Copyright BMW / Mini
Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4 Plug-In-Hybrid - Copyright BMW / Mini

Is this still punk rock?

For all traditionalists the question arises whether a Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4 as a plug-in hybrid can save the values ​​into the 21st century. Not all of them, of course, the car is larger in size and significantly heavier than the originals from the sixties. With me as the driver, the two drive motors and the lavish special equipment of the plug-in Hyrid version, we are now at a full 1,8 tonnes total weight, which is almost three times the weight of the original speedster.
A 224 hp three-cylinder petrol engine was planted under the bonnet so that the overall package can quickly cope with everyday life. In the rear, an 88 hp electric motor supplements the propulsion. In the city area, under optimal conditions, up to 40 km can be covered purely electrically. In our winter conditions it was more like 20 km.


To charge the 230 kWh lithium-ion battery, you need a good three hours from a 7,6-volt socket. The Mini can only be charged faster with 3,7 kW per hour with an optional wallbox.
The heavy weight with the low center of gravity gives the Mini a stable road and cornering position. The chassis compensates for the smaller and coarser bumps in a metered manner. After all, what remains of the original rally character is a very agile response when stepping on the gas pedal. The Mini reaches the 6,8 km / h mark within 100 seconds from a standstill. And actually there is still a feeling of the go-kart that can be steered jaggedly around the bends.

Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4
Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4

The overdrawn interior

If you make a conscious decision in favor of the Mini, you get the visually playful cockpit, where opinions differ. The mighty round instrument in the center console sits enthroned above the climate control dials, traditional toggle switches and a massive automatic selector lever. Behind the steering wheel, the instruments appear more compressed, here the speedometer dominates with a speed display of up to 260 km / h. Does he want to go to the Monte Carlo Rally again? Downright modest, to the right of it, the petrol tank indicator. Rightly so, because the relatively small tank has a capacity of just 36 liters.
That can be a shortcoming on long-distance journeys, because modesty in fuel consumption with an empty battery is a foreign word for the Mini. In cold winter conditions he likes to treat himself to 10 to 12 liters of premium gasoline in combustion mode, the high total weight is already noticeable here.

High quality workmanship


The lavishly developed infotainment system and the various technical setting options are all the more pleasing. Just dive into the depths of the settings menu for a moment. The individual ideas can be changed one after the other in one direction: The driving mode switches allow you to choose between “Max-e-Drive”, “Automatic” and “Save” and the secondary setting “green”, “normal” and “Sport” “Differentiate again.
The ambience is characterized by the sports seats used as standard equipment, they have good lateral support, can be easily adapted to the driver and visually make a high-quality impression. They are covered with a finely sewn leather. The processing quality in the interior is very high quality and appealing. The seating position provides a good all-round view and so assess the external dimensions very quickly. The seating position on the rear bench seat is somewhat more restricted when tall people move the front seats backwards.

Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4 Plug-In-Hybrid - Copyright BMW / Mini
Mini Cooper SE Countryman All4 Plug-In-Hybrid - Copyright BMW / Mini

Trendsetter plug-in hybrid?

With a total of 31.442 new registrations in 2018, the plug-in hybrid is still a transition vehicle to vehicles with electric motors, hydrogen or natural gas drives. The environmental bonus helped him a little more. When the funding expires, it will be in even greater competition with the much more popular full hybrid drives.

The disadvantages are clearly in the technical effort, the vehicle weight and the comparatively higher entry-level prices for the plug-in variants. The entry-level price for the mini plug-in hybrid is 37.600 euros with the extensive basic equipment (as of March 2019). This includes, for example, the navigation system, 17-inch alloy wheels and a leather steering wheel. On the other hand, additional surcharges have to be paid for useful special equipment such as seat heating, digital radio or automatic air conditioning. In the equipment of the test car, including leather seats, you can easily pay a few thousand euros on top.
In the end, the plug-in hybrid remains significantly more expensive than a Mini Cooper S Countryman, for example, even without this optional equipment. From a purely economic point of view, one is already forced to consider whether to increase the price premium again. The tight electric range of around 20 to 35 kilometers is more of a luxury that is rewarded accordingly.
If you often use short distances in the city and can use a charging station at home for charging times, the pollutant balance in the area can be useful. This Countryman provides an incentive for local emission-free driving, but those who prefer the trend of purely electric mobility are still waiting for the electric mini.

Waiting for the silence

What remains are the thoughts of the phases of quiet locomotion and locally emission-free driving. To glide along purely electrically at times is the real difference compared to the combustion engines of the other mini models. Ultimately, the use depends solely on the driver and the charging structure in the area. In practice, we still missed a setting for the degree of recuperation.
With the MaxeDrive setting, you can drive up to 125 km / h. When the available battery capacity runs out, the burner is automatically switched on. Then the battery can be charged to a minimum of 90% using the save battery mode so that sufficient electrical capacity is available for the city.

Conclusion

As a part-time Stromer, the Mini is primarily designed for driving pleasure. With an original interior and idiosyncratic design, it clearly stands out from the crowd of competitors, and the decision to buy a Mini is primarily a decision for a very individual vehicle concept. With the price premium for the hybrid drive and the high consumption due to the weight, it is not one of the bargains.

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Addendum

Practical test from the green car magazine.

N. Hawthorn
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