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2017 Mini Countryman plug-in hybrid set for Australia

Mini's largest car ever, the second-generation Countryman, has made its public debut at this week's Los Angeles motor show.

The not-so-mini Countryman has been a big seller for the BMW-owned brand, moving more than 540,000 cars and accounting for one-in-four Mini sales since it launched in 2010. 

The second-generation car is lower, longer and wider, and is missing a number of the quirky design touches the current car is known for, in favour of a cleaner, more grown-up design.

In addition, Mini will offer the Countryman as a series hybrid with plug-in recharging capability – a first for the brand.

It uses a 100kW version of BMW's 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine and a 65kW rear axle-mounted electric motor for a total output of 165kW and 385Nm.

The all-wheel-drive Countryman plug-in hybrid can do 40km on electric power at speeds of up to 125km/h.

As part of the range reveal, member of BMW board of directors Peter Schwarzenbaur told that the Countryman Plug In Hybrid would be sold in Australia.

"We are bringing it to Australia," he said. "I don't see why a market shouldn't take it." 

BMW Australia's general manager of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher said that the company was "certainly" considering the car.

"We have a very strong and proactive approach to plug in hybrids within the BMW Australia Group, so a PHEV Mini was always going to be of great interest to us," she said.

The F60 Countryman is 200mm longer and 30mm wider than the F56, and sports a 75mm longer wheelbase.

A brace of four engines will be available at its overseas launch in February next year, including a 100kW/220Nm three-cylinder 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol, a 141kW/280Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol and a 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel.

Luggage space is increased by 220 litres in seat-down capacity over the old car.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with six- and eight-speed automatics available as options on the various grades. All-wheel-drive is also offered as an option across the line up.

Luggage space is increased by 220 litres in seat-down capacity over the old car, with a total of 1309 litres available when the 40:20:20 split/fold seats are lowered. Capacity is 450 litres with the seats in position.

An optional load kit offers a sensor-operated tailgate, a lowered floor for more space, along with a clip-in two-seat bench for the rear hatch ledge.

Inside, Mini's centre-mounted circular screen has survived, and will incorporate a touch screen for the first time. A three-mode drive select switch will also be offered as an option.

AEB is offered as standard across the line, while camera-augmented radar cruise control, pedestrian warning with brake function, roadside sign recognition, parking assistant and heads-up display will be available.

For the chassis, a MacPherson strut front end and multi-link rear end combines with electro-mechanical steering, and adaptive dampers are available.

The Countryman launches in the US in February 2017, and the rest of the world from March.

If you thought a Mini SUV was a bold move, how do you feel about a plug-in hybrid version? Tell us what you think in the comments below.