The MINI is getting even bigger – and gaining an electric member of the family.
While the modern generation of the MINI has always outstretched its 1950s inspiration in all areas, the latest version of its largest model – the Countryman SUV – will be even bigger.
The all-new Countryman is expected on UK roads in February, and will be joined later in 2017 by a plug-in hybrid version, the first MINI with an all-electric mode.
The size increase of the new model is significant – 200mm extra length and a 75mm longer wheelbase. This, says MINI has freed up extra interior space to allow the fitting of five full-sized seats and allow 50mm of extra knee room.
The new car also boasts improved head and shoulder room in the front and larger rear door openings, while the rear seats can be slid forward or back by up to 130mm. Dropping the rear seats extends the 450-litre boot space to 1309 litres, which is 220 litres more than in the previous Countryman.
Both the exterior and interior designs follow the look established with the latest-generation MINI range that debuted with the Hatch in 2014, but the Countryman treatment includes such details as matching the silver roof-rails to similarly finished sill tops to emphasise the car’s height.
The engine line-up generally follows that established with other recently launched MINIs, both the two petrol and two diesel options described as new units.
Petrol buyers will have a choice of TwinPower Turbo units – a three-cylinder 1.5-litre of 136hp in the Countryman Cooper produces 0-62mph times of 9.6 seconds, combined cycle fuel economy of 51.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 126g/km.
The 2-litre four cylinder of 192hp, meanwhile, will send the Countryman Cooper S model through 62mph from rest in 7.5 seconds, with efficiency figures of 45.6mpg and 141g/km.
Both the diesels are 2-litre units, the Cooper D offering 150hp, which sees it take 8.9 seconds to 62mph – a whole two seconds quicker than its predecessor. Combined cycle fuel economy is 64.2mpg with CO2 emissions of 113g/km.
The Cooper SD, meanwhile, has 190hp on tap, good enough for a 7.7-second 0-62mph time, 61.4mpg and 121g/km.
Much interest will surround the launch later in 2017 of the new plug-in hybrid variant. It combines the three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol unit of 136hp with an electric motor – housed under the boot floor with its battery under the rear seat – adding another 88hp. The engine drives the front wheels, the motor the rears for all-wheel-drive capability.
Combined power is 224hp which makes the hybrid the most potent of the mainstream Countryman range, passing 62mph from rest in 6.9 seconds. Official combined cycle fuel economy is 134.5mpg, with emissions of 49g/km.
MINI adds that the plug-in hybrid can travel up to 25 miles on electric power alone, while charging from a wallbox takes 2.15 hours, from a domestic socket an hour longer.
Dealers are now taking orders for the new Countryman models, at prices ranging from £22,465 to £29,565. Prices for the plug-in hybrid variant are still to be revealed.