2017 Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid first drive: Mini goes electric

The hype has been focussed on the forthcoming electric Mini hatchback when it comes to plug-in Minis, but maybe it shouldn't have been. This plug-in hybrid Countryman (which has the official title of the Mini Countryman S E All4 PHEV, but who's got time for that, eh?) will suit a much larger audience – that of the big-selling (and generally bigger) Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and hatchback alternatives like the VW Golf GTE. Ultimately, it’s likely to be the more popular option when it comes to Minis you can fill up via a socket.

2017 Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid
2017 Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid

Under the bonnet the company’s 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol three-cylinder engine (familiar from the Mini Cooper models) drives the front wheels, while an electric motor powers the rear wheels. They function in unison much of the time, producing a combined 221bhp, or they work independently if the situation requires it.

You’ll get around 25 miles of urban pottering on electricity alone, while CO2 emissions of 49g/km means that this falls into the lowest company car tax bracket. A claimed economy of 134.5mpg will be achievable if you commute on the back of a fleet of winged pigs. Reckon on somewhere around 35mpg when the petrol engine is running, but of course if your daily journey is less than the electric range then you rarely need to rely on petrol at all.  

First impressions

If you’re familiar with the Mini Countryman then this will all be very predictable. It’s very much the same interesting, quirky-looking interior up front, and even the dial...