Not wanting to be left behind by its BMW relations from Munich, Mini has introduced its first mass-production electric vehicle in the form of the Cooper S E Countryman ALL4. That’s a bit of a mouthful, but it is also a lot of car. It’s the biggest Mini you can buy, and thanks to its additional electrical components, it is also the heaviest.
This plug-in hybrid joins the expanded Countryman range that has seen the standard and Cooper S versions recently joined by a high-performance John Cooper Works model. While this is Mini’s first mass-production electrified vehicle, it’s not actually the first. Back in 2008, the Mini E was unveiled, the first fully electric vehicle from the BMW Group, preceding even the BMW i brand.
Mini produced more than 700, leased and driven by private users in what was in reality an extended field research study. Since being returned, most have been recycled, but some remain in use within the company. In a nod to that car, Mini has used the same yellow color accents to differentiate the “S” badging from that of other Cooper models.
That’s one of the few visual cues, however, as the styling of the front and rear bumpers mimics that of the regular Cooper S; though if you look closely, you’ll only find a single exhaust at the back of the hybrid version.
A chromed side scuttle detail incorporates the yellow E symbol and, on the driver side, this opens to reveal the charging port. We’re normally fans of Mini’s characteristic styling flourishes, but on this car the large chrome shields look plain cheap, especially when you consider the charging port is hidden discreetly behind a similarly positioned body-colored flap on all other BMW plug-in hybrid models.
Nonetheless, to just about anyone on the street, this looks just like another Countryman, and that is sure to be one of its appealing factors. Like all Minis, you can choose from a mind-boggling variety of color and trim combinations. In the cabin, only minor changes signify the electric capabilities of the car.
If you happen to miss the yellow Cooper S flashes on the kick plates as you get in, the yellow Start toggle for the engine should catch your eye.
The center console also has a switch that allows you to choose from one of three distinct eDrive modes—Auto eDrive, Max eDrive, and Save Battery. These are in addition to the usual Green, Mid, and Sport driving modes selectable using the rotary dial around the base of the gear selector.
As Mini has located the 7.6-kWh battery pack beneath the rear passengers’ seat, the height of the seat has been raised an inch. This reduction in headroom shouldn’t be too much of an issue for passengers of average height, as the Countryman is already tall at 61.3 inches. Boot capacity also falls victim to the car’s battery packaging, with 14.3 ft3 of space available compared to the usual 15.9 ft3. There are still separate under-floor storage areas in the boot, which are useful for storing the charging cable.
FULL report: Super Street