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Mini Countryman 2020 review: Hybrid

The 2020 Mini Countryman S E All4 PHEV is a hybrid all-wheel drive SUV with style and substance.

Daily driver score

3.8/5

Urban score

3.8/5

The Mini Countryman Hybrid - that’s the simplest way to think of this newly added high-riding model. 

But that’s the car’s short name. Like me - I go by Matt, and this Mini goes by Countryman Hybrid. It’s longer name is Mini Countryman S E All4 PHEV. 

We’ll be going with the former though this review, but those letters are all important to what this model is, and what it represents. If you speak Mini, you’ll know the ’S’ signifies ‘sporty’, the ‘All4’ means it’s all-wheel drive, and PHEV is a more generic term for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

What’s it all mean when it comes to this newly added variant? I’ll explain in more detail below. 

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

It’s a small SUV that’s big on tech and also has a big price tag to reflect that.

The Countryman Hybrid sits second from the top of the small SUV’s model ranks, with a list price of $57,200 plus on-road costs. That’s pricey for a Mini, but decent for a plug-in hybrid from a premium brand.

The price reflects the amount of standard equipment you get, too. 

It has standard automatic LED headlights, auto rain-sensing wipers, an 8.8-inch touchscreen multimedia system with six speakers plus wireless Apple CarPlay and DAB+ digital radio, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, front and rear parking sensors with a reversing camera, an electric tailgate with kick sensor, keyless entry and push-button start, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, and 18-inch alloy wheels with run-flat tyres (no spare wheel).

  • The Countryman scores LED headlights as standard. The Countryman scores LED headlights as standard.
  • The Countryman Hybrid wears 18-inch alloy wheels. The Countryman Hybrid wears 18-inch alloy wheels.
  • Inside is a 8.8-inch touchscreen multimedia system. Inside is a 8.8-inch touchscreen multimedia system.

You also get standard roof rails, a leather steering wheel, fake leather trim and 40:20:40 rear split-fold seats - but there’s a difference between this variant and the other Countryman models. We’ll get to that in the interior section below. 

Our car had a few additional options, including a dual pane sunroof (like a panoramic sunroof, but with a gap across the body where the B-pillars are). 

Some may question it scoring 8/10 for its price and spec - and yeah, you could get a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for a bit less (from $45,990) - but you’re getting some pretty neat tech from a primo, desirable brand for your money.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

You might like that the Countryman Hybrid doesn’t look all that different to the regular models at a glance. I certainly do, even though I think black paint is a mistake for any Mini.

There are some telltale elements, like those yellow Mini Electric badges (including the one on the front left fender which is where you plug it in), and the ’S’ badges are green, not red.

Otherwise, it’s that almost-rectangular-but-still-unmistakably-Mini look that might be reason enough for you to go for the Countryman. The LED lighting signature, the stylish exterior details, and the smart looking and well finished interior all combine to make you feel like you’re not just driving a regular SUV.

The Countryman Hybrid doesn’t look all that different to the regular models at a glance. The Countryman Hybrid doesn’t look all that different to the regular models at a glance.

Heck, I even like the C O U N T R Y M A N badge on the back, which makes it look broader and hunkered to the road. There aren’t the Union Jack tail-lights like you see on the hatch models, but our test car had a couple of British nods inside, including the backs of the front headrests. 

So, how mini is it? The dimensions of the Countryman are compact: 4299mm long, 1559mm tall and 1822mm wide. It’s shorter than a Corolla hatch from nose to tail!

How practical is the space inside?

The Hybrid isn’t as practical as other Countryman models.

It has less rear headroom (941mm vs 972mm) as well as a millimetre less knee room and shoulder room than the other models. 

But the bigger issue is that the Countryman Hybrid doesn’t have a sliding second row seat, which means you can’t adjust the second row space. It’s a fixed seat that is positioned higher than the other models in the line-up, and it also has a smaller boot - 405 litres of cargo capacity, compared with 450L in the other variants (with seats in their rearmost position).

  • Boot space in the Countryman Hybrid is rated at 405 litres. Boot space in the Countryman Hybrid is rated at 405 litres.
  • Despite being smaller in size compared to other variants, the Countryman Hybrid can still fit a pram in the boot. Despite being smaller in size compared to other variants, the Countryman Hybrid can still fit a pram in the boot.
  • However, we couldn’t fit all three of our suitcases in the boot. However, we couldn’t fit all three of our suitcases in the boot.

That’s down to the fact this model has a battery pack under the back seat, and the boot is slightly 10 per cent smaller due to packaging all that tech into the back, too. That means we couldn’t fit all three of our suitcases in the boot, where that feat was possible in a ‘normal’ Countryman. The pram still fit, and the boot space is still good by small SUV standards.

The fact is the regular Countryman’s interior packaging intelligence is one of the main reasons to buy it, and that the Hybrid doesn’t have those particular smarts is disappointing. It does have other smarts, though, and we’ll get to them in the driving section below. 

The space in the second row is still okay - not ‘mini’, but fine for adults for shorter journeys. I’m six-feet tall and my knees were wedged against the driver’s seat, and my head was brushing the ceiling (our car had the optional sunroof package). Smaller occupants, or children, should be fine in the back, and there are dual ISOFIX child seat anchors and three top-tether points. 

The space in the second row is fine for adults for shorter journeys. The space in the second row is fine for adults for shorter journeys.

The back seat has decent door pockets and map pockets, but there’s no central cupholder section or fold down armrest. There are rear seat vents and a pair of USB-C charging points.

Up front there is good storage - a pair of cupholders down near your knees, a cubby in front, a covered armrest with a wireless phone charging dock (though, unlike some cars, it doesn’t remind you that you’ve left your phone in there!), plus a storage box below that. There are big door pockets up front, too.

Anyone who has been in a Mini before will come to terms with the ergonomics of the space pretty easily, and the fact there’s the choice of the controller for the screen or you can touch it to get where you need to is a nice factor. 

Up front there is good storage. Up front there is good storage.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Mini Countryman Hybrid combines petrol and electricity, which the brand describes as “the Mini you know, reimagined for the roads of tomorrow”.

The petrol part of the equation is a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine, which is familiar from other models in the Mini range. It produces 100kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 220Nm of torque (from 1300-4300rpm), and is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission that drives the front wheels.

The 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine, teamed an electric motor has a total output of 165kW/385Nm. The 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine, teamed an electric motor has a total output of 165kW/385Nm.

The electric element is a motor with 65kW of power and 165Nm of torque, which is powered by a 7.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It turns the rear wheels and according to Mini there is up to 40 kilometres of range available on electric power alone in the 2019 model, though a bigger-battery version is due in 2020 with a claimed 47km of range. 

The reason it justifies that S badge is that it has a combined power output of 165kW and peak combined torque of 385Nm. It’s pretty neat that you’ve got a RWD electric setup, a FWD petrol setup, or a hybrid AWD model. And the performance figures are strong, too - the 0-100 time is 6.9 seconds, according the Mini, which is pretty speedy. 

How much fuel does it consume?

Let’s talk about the claims before we get to the real world.

Mini says you’ll be able to get fuel economy of just 2.5 litres per 100 kilometres based on the combined cycle test because the battery pack will get you a way, then the petrol engine will take over.

Here’s why that sets an unrealistic expectation. Even in the best case scenario, that will only ever be the case for the first 100km, because the following 100km will see the engine working to pull the extra weight of the electric system. 

I managed to get just 25km of electric range from a full charge. I managed to get just 25km of electric range from a full charge.

It mightn’t matter to you if plan to primarily drive around town, and I can totally understand that. Just don’t expect to see that sort of fuel use if you head out of town for the weekend.

I did exactly that - a bunch of urban driving and a longer trip down the coast to see what the real expectation would be.  

I managed to get just 25km of electric range from a full charge. Yep, nowhere close to 40km, and we didn’t even see that on the screen. And that meant my petrol use for the first 100km was 6.0L/100km, and it increased to 7.2L/100km over the second hundred (with average electricity consumption of 3.7kWh/100km, according to the onboard computer).

Mini says you’ll be able to get fuel economy of just 2.5 litres per 100 kilometres based on the combined cycle. Mini says you’ll be able to get fuel economy of just 2.5 litres per 100 kilometres based on the combined cycle.

Let me say this, though - my commute to work is eight kilometres return - so if I owned the car I could feasibly travel three days to work and back on about $2.80 worth of electricity. That’s pretty amazing, but it’s not for everyone.

As for charging there is a Mini wallbox that allows recharging in two hours 15 minutes, while a regular plug will do the job from empty in three-and-a-quarter hours. It has a Type 2 plug and cannot be fast recharged as there is no DC capability.

What's it like to drive?

If you want the go-kart feel, maybe consider holding off for the fully electric Mini Cooper in 2020. 

The Countryman doesn’t quite have the same character as other Minis, and the Hybrid is a further step removed.

The suspension is a little softer and wobblier than the regular models - there has clearly been a bit done to the suspension deal with the extra weight, because the Hybrid has a kerb weight of 1640kg (compared with a Cooper S version, at 1460kg, that’s positively porky). 

It deals decently with bigger lumps in the road but isn’t as controlled as the other models in the range, and sharp edges can be intrusive because of the run-flat tyres. 

The steering isn’t as pinpoint or fun as other Minis, either. I spent the majority of my time in the ‘Green’ driving mode around town, and in the ‘Mid’ mode on the open road - though when I flicked it to Sport mode I noted the steering weight was more assertive, and I liked that.

But it’s the way the powertrain works that’s the most impressive element of this Countryman. 

In electric mode (Max eDrive) with the windows down you can hear a slight robotic thrum that is designed to warn pedestrians, and the torque available is on tap from a standstill. There are regenerative brakes, though they’re nowhere near as aggressive as on other EVs (the Nissan Leaf can basically be driven only using the throttle!).

In electric mode there are regenerative brakes, which aren't as aggressive as on other EVs. In electric mode there are regenerative brakes, which aren't as aggressive as on other EVs.

There’s also a Save mode, which makes the car run on petrol and also work to charge up the battery. That’s the go for a highway stint, especially if you know you’re coming back in to the suburbs where the electric power will be better used.

The Auto eDrive setting basically adjusts things as you go - it’ll use electric power if you’ve got some in reserve and the system figures that’s the best way to go, or run the petrol engine instead.

The progress is smooth and refined no matter the mode, and the petrol engine and six-speed auto work nicely when called upon. The three-cylinder isn’t too thrummy, and the transition between petrol/hybrid/electric is smooth and fuss free.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The Mini Countryman has a five-star ANCAP crash test rating, which was awarded to it in 2017 - but that didn’t include the Hybrid version (in fact, the ANCAP score oddly stipulates “Cooper D variants only”).

Standard safety equipment for the Countryman includes low speed auto emergency braking (AEB - known as City Crash Mitigation) with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, auto high beam headlights, semi-autonomous parking, speed limit recognition, a reversing camera, and front and rear parking sensors. 

The Mini comes with a reversing camera, plus front and rear parking sensors. The Mini comes with a reversing camera, plus front and rear parking sensors.

There’s also six airbags (dual front, front side and full-length curtain), dual ISOFIX child seat anchor points, three top tether points.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Mini offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty on the Countryman, with six years/100,000km warranty for the battery pack. Other EVs have eight-year warranty plans.

Servicing is ‘condition based’, meaning the car will let you know when it needs maintenance. Owners have the option to pre-purchase a service plan that spans five years/80,000km and roll it into their finance, or pay as they go. The pre-pay pack is $1425 for Basic Cover, or $3685 for Full Cover (includes consumables like brake pads and discs, along with wipers and clutch disc/plate on manual models).

I can totally see the appeal in the Mini Countryman Hybrid, or the Mini Countryman S E All4 PHEV… no matter what you want to call it. 

But it has to be said, this is a compact SUV that is only ideally suited to a small number of customers. If you fit within that user case and you can deal with the interior compromises this model has over its brethren, then it could be worth investigating. But for other customers a standard Countryman petrol or diesel would likely be a better option, not to mention at a more affordable price point. 

$57,200

Based on new car retail price

Daily driver score

3.8/5

Urban score

3.8/5