At long last, electrification comes to the MINI range of vehicles. In its preliminary form, the Countryman has been selected to be the first to adopt the powertrain technology with a showroom-ready version to launch in 2017.
The new variant will join the usual turbocharged three-cylinder and four-cylinder petrol MINIs and will be a precursor to even more hybrid MINI models as well as a fully electric version of the Cooper hatchback due out in 2019.
Indeed, the introduction of electricity to augment a petrol engine isn’t anything new, especially for parent company BMW, who has by contrast led the way in hybrid integration with the i3 city car and the sporty i8, even offering hybrid versions of its major models such as the 3 Series and X5.
In keeping with the technology exchange between British-based MINI and its German benefactor, the hybrid Countryman has been developed alongside the BMW 225xe Plug-in Hybrid. They both share the same platform, 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine (mated to a six-speed automatic), and electric motor.
A total system output of 165kW and 385Nm results from the petrol mill and hybrid augmentation with 100kW/220Nm attributed to internal combustion and 65kW/165Nm from the rear-mounted electric motor. Mind you, these figures are not yet official, but we see no reason why the Countryman Hybrid should not mirror the BMW 225xe.
Those power and torque figures are encouraging and should provide ample thrust in most situations while providing a much-improved efficiency profile for both cars. In short commutes, the lithium-ion battery is reportedly able to provide sufficient charge for up to 40km of pure electric range at up to 125km/h.
Sebastian Mackensen, Head of MINI series management, said: “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.”
“In a hybrid MINI model, driving electrically must also be an exhilarating experience. This means that entirely electric driving is not limited to speeds of 30 or 40 km/h, but to speeds well beyond city traffic pace.”