- P11D Value: £31,530
- BIK band 2017/2018: 9%
- 5-door SUV PHEV
- 224bhp (comb) 1.5 litre 3cyl petrol-electric / six-speed auto AWD
- CO2 Emissions: 49g/km; 134.5mpg
- Performance: 6.8sec/123mph
What is the MINI Countryman S E ALL4?
The MINI Countryman S E ALL4 is the first production plug-in hybrid MINI, available in the largest model – the latest Countryman SUV.
Badged the Cooper S E, business-friendly highlights include just 49g/km emissions, 134.5mpg and this sub-7-second 0-62mph MINI is eligible for the £2,500 OLEV Government Grant.
Available to order now, UK deliveries will start in June. However, Business Car Manager was lucky enough to get an early drive of this new green contender at the international launch.
What’s hot about the MINI PHEV?
- That refined combination of the 136bhp three-cylinder 1.5-litre TwinPower petrol and rear-mounted electric motor, with lithium-ion high voltage battery pack mounted under the boot floor, adding another 88bhp. With the petrol engine and electric motor together, power totals a more hot hatch-like 224bhp.
- There are different drive modes for the Countryman S E ALL4, which are accessible via one of the toggle switches on the centre console. Replacing a toggle on the standard car, the eDrive toggle as it’s called, can switch the Countryman between Auto eDrive, Max eDrive and Save Battery modes. Auto eDrive keeps this car in full-electric mode up to 50mph, then cuts the engine in at higher speeds – or when the battery falls below 7%. Max eDrive on the other hand puts this MINI in full electric mode with a top speed of 78mph, for a range of 25 miles. Finally the ‘Save Battery’ mode does exactly what it says and this MINI is petrol powered only, keeping battery power above 90% charge.
- It might start off in electric mode, but plug-in hybrid or not, this Countyrman feels quick off the mark, plus impressively smooth and refined. The petrol/electric drivetrain remains smooth when moving between the two powerplants. The performance is best described as peppy and is well-matched to the slick-shifting, six-speed steptronic automatic transmission.
- Despite the extra weight of the battery pack and motor, they seem to have little effect on the Countryman’s reasonably sharp and sporty dynamics. For starters, the steering remains as sharp and precise as ever, meaning you can really attack corners. The Countryman is a tall car and there is some body roll when cornering – although there’s plenty of grip from the ALL4 all-wheel drive system. The ride on the optional 18-inch alloys was generally refined too.
- That battery pack and electric motor mean 45 litres less space and the rear seat is also mounted slightly higher. Even with 405 litres, this MINI’s boot remains usefully practical – there’s still a smaller underfloor stowage area. You don’t notice the raised rear seat either and like all other new Countrymans, there’s plenty of rear legroom and room for three.
- At first glance, the Cooper S E ALL4 looks the same as a standard MINI Countryman Cooper S – much bigger and more masculine than the first-generation model. Look closer and you’ll spot the unique chromed ‘E’ side scuttles of the Cooper SE, one of which on the left-hand side hides the charging point for the power pack. Points will be scored for spotting the yellow highlights (all the ’S’ logos are coloured yellow and the start/stop toggle switch), while at the back there’s another chromed ‘E’ badge and a single exhaust pipe rather than the usual twin Cooper S ones.
- Even after applying the OLEV Government Grant of £2,500, the MINI Countryman S E ALL4 is pricey at £29,085 (£31,585 without the grant). It is however well-equipped for the money with standard features including sat-nav, Bluetooth, Driving Modes and cruise control. This might be a MINI plug-in hybrid, but there’s still the same level of personalisation options available for those with the budget.
- The boot-floor mounted lithium-ion battery takes between 2 hours 15 and 3 hours 15 to charge. It can be charged via a conventional plug, wall box, or public charging station and comes with a six-year, 60,000-mile warranty.
- Despite the changes in salary sacrifice which did survive the modified Finance Bill to meet the election call, ultra-low emission vehicles like this MINI escape the changes, while company car tax (BIK) rates are attractively low, rising to just 16% over the next three years.
And what’s not so hot about this MINI?
- No MINI is ever cheap and even after the OLEV grant at £29,085 it still looks pricey. There are also questionmarks to consider about the future costs of public charging and how long the OLEV grant will carry on.
- Potholed roads and extreme cornering are the only time you’ll feel this Countryman’s extra weight from the battery pack and motor. The ride and handling seems to unravel a little bit.
- If you do a lot of town work, that 25-mile electric-only range seems quick to run out. However using the Cooper S E’s different driving modes could lessen this problem.
Verdict on MINI Countryman Cooper S E ALL4
Running a plug-in hybrid as a company car still makes sense financially and the MINI Countryman S E ALL4 goes right to the top of its class in our opinion.
Great to drive and almost as practical as the standard car, there are no obvious rivals unless you consider the bigger, older Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
Our only criticisms are that it is still expensive, plus if you do a lot of in-town driving, that 25 mile electric only range soon runs out and the extra weight of the battery pack and motor make themselves more obvious on the worst road surfaces.