Los Angeles 2016: New 2017 MINI Countryman lineup to include plug-in hybrid

Its wheelbase has been extended by 7.5 centimetres.

The new MINI Countryman is some 20 centimetres longer than its predecessor and approximately 3 centimetres wider. The smaller set is for the Cooper model while the larger wheels are only for the Cooper S.

Is it fair to say that Mini is all grown up now?

After the first generation lasted six years on the market, Mini is introducing the second generation Countryman - though the design evolution is rather subtle. It retains the giant "dinner plate" central screen, although it now has rectangular air vents in a move away from Mini's traditional circular vents.

Mini has shifted away from its normally friendly aesthetic in favor of a more aggressive design on the 2017 Countryman that includes more chiseled character lines along the front bumper and side rocker panels as well as restyled headlights that ditch the circular nature of the previous generation for a rounded rectangle look. And Mini desperately needs you to buy it. To that end, personalisation touches such as dual-colour door trims and options including piped and quilted leather trim are meant to allow buyers to specify the Countryman "up to the level of a luxury car".

Dealers are now taking orders for the new Countryman models, at prices ranging from £22,465 to £29,565. These come in the form of a 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit in the Cooper, rated at 100kW and 220Nm, and a 2-litre four-cylinder motor in the Cooper S, good for 141kW and 280Nm. The latter, Mini's ALL4 system, has been further refined for increased driving agility and efficiency and is available as an option on all engine variants. Bearing the easy-to-digest moniker of Countryman Cooper S E All4, it uses the base model's 1.5-liter I-3 to power to the front wheels and an electric motor fed by a 7.6 kWh battery to power the rear. That honor is reserved for a four-cylinder diesel in the shape of the Cooper SD, which makes 140 kW (190 hp) of power and a handy 400 Nm (295 lb.ft) of torque. There is also 50mm more rear knee room, although the seats slide back and forth by up to 130mm. The average consumption is 2.1 fixed liters per 100 kilometers and Carbon dioxide emissions of 49 grams per kilometer.

"The plug-in hybrid concept perfectly matches the new MINI Countryman because it offers intelligent all-wheel drive as well as being able to run on electricity alone both in urban areas and over longer distances, too".

We're told specification mirrors the Clubman, with satellite navigation, Bluetooth and Emergency E-Call all standard.

Collision warning with low-speed "city" autonomous braking is standard but according to the global press release a reversing camera is optional. Naturally, MINI is promising a huge range of individualisation options.

The Countryman will also be available as a hybrid. In Mini Cooper D Countryman trim you get 148bhp and 243lb ft, and in the Cooper SD Countryman that rises to 188bhp and 295lb ft.

Apart from the "E's" yellow highlights, the only way you'll tell its the Countryman Cooper S E, is by its electric charging point, which is hidden in the front passenger side A-panel. It gets a new user interface and operating system, along with wireless charging.

  • Carolyn Briggs