This week I am behind the wheel of the 2019 Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4. This is the largest Mini ever produced and features a plug-in hybrid electric system that debuted in 2018.
2019 Mini Cooper S E Countryman Plug-In Hybrid
Let’s talk about the power train for a minute. The Countryman SE combines a 3-cylinder twin-turbo gas engine, and a battery pack that adds 87 more horses for a total of 221-horses. Without help from the battery pack, you only have 134-horses. The gas engine runs the front wheels and the battery power goes to the rear wheels.
Essentially, when you take off, you are running on all battery, then the gas and battery combine as you pick up speed, and finally at highway speeds you are running on all gas. The transition between gas and electric is seamless.
You can plug the vehicle in to a regular wall plug to give you maximum battery charge, or when you are running on the gas engine only, it will recharge the hybrid battery, albeit slowly. I suspect some people will never use the plug-in.
There are three hybrid settings: Max E-Drive conserves as much battery life as possible. Auto E-Drive controls the most efficient use of gas and battery together, and there is a Save mode, which stores battery power while the gas engine runs.
Every SE Countryman comes as the All4, which is the Mini version of all-wheel drive, and gives the new Countryman a much more substantial ride and drive. This Mini shares a chassis with the BMW X1, the only problem with it as an off-roader is very limited ground clearance.
As cool as Minis are on the outside, it is the interior that true Mini enthusiasts love. As you sit behind the steering wheel, you notice everything is round- from the speedometer, to the huge center screen, right down to the air conditioning controls. Another cool touch Mini has used for years is the use of toggle switches below the climate controls, including a yellow one in the middle to start the car. To the left of the start button is the switch to control the E-Drive. To the right, you can turn off the traction control, and choose Sport or Green modes.
The seats are cloth with limited stitching and a couple of stripes. To be honest, I have trouble getting comfortable in these seats due to the lack of power controls. If you get the seat level, then it is too high. Perhaps it is just me, I could never find that right position.
Everything for the driver is within easy reach, including the knob in the center console that operates everything on the massive round screen, or the screen can be activated by touch.
From the main menu, you go through the navigation screen, My Mini screen, Mini Connect, notifications, communication screen, and the media and radio screens. Surrounding the 8.8” round screen is a band of light that changes colors.
Like all Minis, it has a 6-speed automatic transmission, but a manual is available.
Unlike other Mini Cooper models I’ve ever been in, this one has a lot of headroom and legroom. You can put five adults in this crossover and everyone will be comfortable. The back seat folds down for added cargo room.
John Cooper Works Edition
My test Mini is the top-of-the line John Cooper Works edition, which gives you 18” wheels, sport seats, some JCW badging, and the automatic tranny.
It also has power tailgate, Bluetooth, panoramic moon roof, heated seats, Apple car play, keyless entry, rear camera, and parking sensors. Total options add up to $8000.
Ride and Handling
The Countryman drives very well, has a smooth ride, interior noise is practically non-existent, and you get a real BMW feel in the handling.
I like the Countryman a lot, but don’t recommend the ridiculous $5500 hybrid upgrade. You only have 12 miles of range before the batteries are depleted. The total range of battery and gas combined is just 270 miles. Once the batteries run out, you’ll only get 27 miles per gallon, which is not great for a subcompact SUV.
What You’ll Pay
My tester has an MSRP of $45,750 but it does qualify for a $4,000 federal tax credit. If you look at the window sticker, it jumps out that you spend $250 more in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the average new vehicle. The $5,500 hybrid upcharge will buy a lot of gas!
Consider the Mini Cooper Countryman for sure, there’s a lot to love, but I’d pass on the hybrid option.