Expert Reviews

First Drive: Mini Cooper S E Countryman

Friday 19 May 2017

First Drive: Mini Cooper S E Countryman
Summary

The Mini Cooper S E Countryman has arrived in its entire electric-hybrid splendor. 

With high economy figures mixed with traditional Mini capabilities, we take a look at this frugality-focused hatchback. 

Looks & Image

Diesel cars have been featured heavily in the news recently, but for all the wrong reasons. It's therefore understandable why manufacturers are bringing more alternatively fuelled options to market. 

This is Mini's offering - the Cooper S E Countryman ALL4. Under the bonnet lies a three-cylinder petrol engine coupled to an electric motor. It is capable of a claimed 134.5mpg and can run on all-electric power for 25 miles at speeds of up to 78mph. It's a car for those who want to keep running costs low and all for just under £30,000.

Space & Practicality

You could be fooled into thinking that, because it is fitted with an electric motor and batteries placed underneath the boot floor, the Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 would be lacking in luggage space. However, it’s got a lot more to offer than you’d think. With a seats-up load area of 405 litres, there’s more than enough room for a few weekend bags. This area can be increased in size by lowering the rear seats, pushing capacity to respectable 1,275 litres.

There’s plenty of space in the cabin, too. Those sitting up front are treated to a good amount of headroom and shoulder room, while there shouldn’t be too many complaints from those sat in the back, either. The cabin can feel a little dark at times, however, though this can be helped by specifying the optional panoramic sunroof. 

Behind the Wheel

The car will set off using electric power only and can carry on doing so for around 25 miles. This means that zero-emissions driving isn't just restricted to urban areas. There are also three separate driving modes that help you choose how and when you'd like that electric power to come in.

By selecting 'Auto eDrive' the car allows for all electric driving up to speeds of 50mph. The petrol is used in this mode only when it's needed, such as under heavy acceleration or when the battery's charge drops too low. In 'Max eDrive' mode, all-electric driving is available up to 78mph, and the petrol engine is used, again, when accelerating hard. Finally, 'save battery' mode uses the petrol engine alone.

The steering has a good amount of weight to it, but lacks any feel. It is accurate enough however. And despite similar performance figures as the petrol-powered Cooper S, the E feels more sluggish under full acceleration.

Mini claims that it'll take two and a half hours to charge the car. When charging through a conventional domestic socket, this increases to three hours and fifteen minutes.

Value for Money

The Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 costs from £31,585. However, it qualifies for the government's plug-in grant of £2,500, giving a good incentive to those who are thinking of buying it. As standard it comes with satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control. Also, because the Mini emits just 52g/km CO2, taxation costs are much more affordable than some of its rivals.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           There's a sizeable optional extras list on the Countryman, with highlights such as wireless telephone charging and a larger satellite navigation screen improving the car's overall feel, but adding considerably to its price.

Who would buy one ?

The Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 is ideal for those who want all the looks and charm of a normal Mini, but with improved economy than even the diesel variants can offer. It’s good looking, well made inside and great to drive, while all of this is backed up by impressive efficiency. For those who are mainly driving in urban areas for most the time, it makes sense to choose the Cooper S E Countryman ALL4.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4
Base price: £31,585 (excluding £2,500 government grant)
Engine: Three-cylinder petrol with electric motor
Power: 220bhp
Torque: 385Nm
Max speed: 123mph
0-60mph: 6.5 seconds
Economy: 134.5mpg combined
Emissions (g/km): 52

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