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Trevor Collett | Oct 18, 2016

MINI will follow big sister BMW into the world of plug-in hybrid power, as the carmaker previews its new Countryman E model.

As per the usual PHEV recipe, the Countryman E will combine a petrol engine with an electric motor which will offer at least some emission-free driving in a MINI for the first time.

And for MINI fans who fear that a bellyful of batteries will ruin the driving experience of the small car, Brand Manager Sebastian Mackensen said the MINI PHEV will still be a MINI at heart.

“With this model we want to convince MINI customers of the benefits of hybrid drive and impress everyone who already has hybrid driving experience with MINI’s unique go-kart driving feel,” Mackensen said.

Reports suggest the powerplant will be the same as that used in the BMW 225xe, which sees a 1.5 litre three-cylinder petrol engine matched with the electric motor for a combined 165kW/385Nm.

MINI says the new model has “almost been completed”, and will focus on driver enjoyment above environmental friendliness.

To achieve this goal, the energy management system will be skewed towards maximum output from the hybrid system above maximum economy.

The carmaker has endeavoured to ‘hide’ the flap for the recharging point, and the interior will not revert to colourful graphs and blue buttons as has been seen in ‘green’ models from other carmakers.

Changes? The ‘Start’ button glows yellow instead of red to inform the driver that the car is ready for driving, and the tachometer has been replaced by a power meter.

The power meter is designed to assist drivers in maximising their electric-only miles before the petrol engine kicks in. Exactly how many miles are achievable on battery power alone is unclear, as MINI has only described it as “long lasting”.

If the European press is on the money, the battery pack will be a 7.6kWh unit facilitating up to 40km of range.

Two drive modes are available while using the electric engine, with AUTO eDRIVE allowing speeds of up to 80km/h and MAX eDRIVE increasing the top speed to 125km/h.

MINI says the Countryman E “marks the beginning of a new phase for MINI”, suggesting buyers could soon see hybrid powertrains in other models.

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MINI | Countryman | PHEVs

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