2021 MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 PHEV Review By Larry Nutson
Fun to Drive and EcoFriendly
By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
About four months ago I spent time with the all-electric battery powered 2020 MINI Cooper SE 3-door Hardtop. This is the automaker’s first BEV, an all-electric model. MINI has said their plans are for a realignment of their model range, with a clear focus on drivetrain technologies.
As a follow-on I recently drove the new 4-door 2021 MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 PHEV. This is the plug-in hybrid variant and one of six variants of the new Countryman. The Countryman is the “MAXest” MINI at more than 13 feet long as well as one of the most popular models in the US, accounting for close to 40% of all MINIs sold in calendar year 2019.
The new 2021 MINI Countryman has been updated with new exterior and interior design elements along with enhancements in technology and equipment offerings. New front grille, LED headlights with cornering function, LED fog lights, front and rear fascia designs, LED taillights with Union Jack design, new light alloy wheels, new White Silver metallic (see photos) and Sage Green metallic colors and optional piano black exterior trim bring a fresh look.
In the 5-seat cockpit new leather trims and interior surfaces, a digital instrument cluster with 5-inch color screen as an option, and a new design for the central instrument display for audio, navigation and the hybrid-system complete the refresh.
The Countryman ALL4 PHEV is powered by a 134hp turbocharged 1.5-L 3-cylinder mated to a 6-speed automatic. This is paired with an 87hp electric motor for a total output of 221hp. The gasoline engine drives the front wheels and the electric motor drives the rear. Sport, Mid and Green modes are driver selectable.
With a full charge on the 10-kWh lithium-ion battery motive-power is electric at lower speeds until more power is in demand. Then, operating like a conventional hybrid, the gasoline engine kicks-in to meet this demand. Pure-electric operating range is 17 miles. An “eDrive” switch with Auto eDrive, Max eDrive and Save Battery modes allows you to maintain electric-only driving or to also save battery charge for use, for example, in a city center.
The EPA combined fuel-economy estimate is 73 MPGe, with 29 combined city/highway mpg for gasoline engine operation. Overall driving range is estimated at 300 miles. Battery charge time using a Level 2 240-volt charger is estimate at 2 hours at nominal (warm) ambient temperatures.
During my drive circumstances prevented me from doing any battery charging. Through regenerative braking during low speed stop and go driving some charge was restored to the battery. Frequently I would drive through a parking garage at low speed using only the electric motor. On a 200-mile round-trip highway drive the MINI average 34 mpg.
The Countryman ALL4 PHEV’s base price is $41,500. Options fitted on the car I drove included the $2,500 Premium Package and Signature Trim, $1,000 Signature Upholstery Package, $100 White Bonnet (hood) Stripes, $500 Privacy Glass, plus the $850 destination charge for a total of $46,450. A potential Federal tax credit of $5,002 as well as local state incentives may reduce the cost depending on buyer qualifications.
The Premium Package adds nice features such as power front seats and power-folding mirrors, plus a few additional items. The Signature Trim adds power tailgate, power moonroof, navigation, Harmon Kardon premium audio and Apple CarPlay. The Signature Upholstery includes sport seats and MINI Yours steering wheel.
All in all, the car I drove was very well fitted out and offered lots of driver comfort and convenience.
Active Driving Assist with forward collision warning, rear view camera and rear park assist provide added safety.
Overall the Countryman drives like every MINI. It handles with confidence with a firm ride. There’s plenty of zip and strong acceleration. Zero to 60 mph is in 6.5 seconds. The premium finish of the cabin makes for lots of comfort. The compact outside dimensions make it a perfect urban-car.
I was a bit surprised that performance summer tires were fitted to the car I drove. In winter in cold-climate parts of the country winter tires will need be fitted, which is actually a good thing.
Inside the rear hatch the cargo area is 17.4 cu.ft. and can be increased to 47.4 cu.ft. with the rear seat folded.
In all, six variants of the Countryman are offered: a 134hp Countryman or Countryman ALL4, a 189hp S Countryman or Countryman ALL4, the SE Countryman ALL4 PHEV and the 301hp JCW Countryman ALL4. Base prices range from $29,100 to $41,500.
More information and details on the 2021 MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 can be found at www.miniusa.com.
I could very much see myself owning a Countryman ALL4 PHEV. I make my home in Chicago. The all-wheel drive would be good to have for Chicago winters. I’d fit a set of winter tires. The compact size makes for easy maneuvering and parking. With a fully charged battery I could drive all-electric in the city. Most everything I do is within a five-mile radius of my home. The 17-mile range from the battery would cover that. Through regenerative braking in stop and go city driving more range would be added. I frequently drive from Chicago to Southeast Michigan. The 300-mile range of the hybrid system will get me there without refueling.
© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy