The MINI is a motoring icon – loved the world over with a panache, presence and personality all of its own, writes Paul Agnew. Photography: Paul Currie
The MINI is a car with a place in history guaranteed. But this little beauty is not living in the past – far from it.
Say hello to the MINI Countryman Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) now available at Bowker.
That’s right, the not-so-little PHEV MINI Countryman that is already proving a massive hit with the discerning drivers of 2019 who want a little bit of everything when they get behind the wheel – not least some fun.
Powered by both a combustion engine and an electric motor, it offers ‘the spirit of an explorer with technology at its heart’, according to those whose job it is to market and sell.
And after test driving the MINI Countryman Cooper S E ALL4 (yes, four-wheel-drive) from Bowker MINI at Trident Park, Blackburn, it’s hard to disagree.
The PHEV MINI Countryman is a friend from the moment you meet up. The bond is immediate.
Perhaps it’s the famous badge or the instantly recognisable round central dial – now surrounded by an LED light ring that responds to how you are driving and houses a 6.5” colour screen and displays all in-car infotainment.
Or maybe it’s just the way it looks and the ease in which you settle in – everything just seems very right.
And so quiet. Once the keyless ignition has been activated you’d be hard pushed to hear any engine noise at all. Steering is light, vision excellent and road handling safe and sound.
As for performance, the big-hearted PHEV MINI Countryman packs quite a punch, racing from 0-60mph in 6.8 seconds. That’s down to a combined 221 brake horsepower on offer when the 1.5-litre petrol engine and rear-mounted electric motor work together. Sending power to just the rear wheels, the electric motor also gives it four-wheel-drive status. And then there’s the renowned six-speed BMW gearbox.
Who says sustainable motoring can’t be exciting?
The high-tech lithium-ion battery provides an all-electric ‘range’ (mpg in old money) of up to 26 miles, enough to cover the daily commute of most drivers. Kept at its optimum temperature by an advanced cooling system, the battery excels in both output and service life.
With the PHEV MINI Countryman there is the extra advantage of reducing the official CO2 emissions figure to just 49g/km, making the car a much sought-after option for company-car drivers keen to reduce their tax.
Economy, of course, is one of the big attractions.
In terms of fuel ‘consumption’, suffice to say that the ‘range’ is a very impressive 134.5mpg (average) and a full battery charge at home (roughly taking about two hours) will set you back less than 5p!
Whilst driving you can switch between electric and petrol power as you feel fit (there’s even a speedier sports option too) and the transition is smooth and fully automated with no interruptions.
The PHEV MINI Countryman is blessed with an array of helpful and entertaining features including Sat Nav, real time traffic information and hundreds of radio stations (DAB) and music options.
What the manufacturers call ‘Connected Services’ include a concierge phone-line service, online search, weather information, Apple CarPlay®, rear parking distance control, Bluetooth connectivity, chargeable battery during driving – the list goes on.
So, who fits the driver profile?
Anyone and everyone.
There are clear advantages for the business user and an obvious appeal for those seeking a nippy, smart-looking, easy-to-park and great-around-town car, while it offers a practical solution for families too with ample room inside.
Safety levels are excellent. It achieved the full five-star score in Euro NCAP crash tests and from an array of available extras you can choose a reversing camera, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and lane-keep assist.
Eight airbags come as standard, in addition to the compulsory anti-lock brakes and stability control. Also standard are autonomous emergency braking and a bonnet that pops up slightly in a pedestrian collision to help cushion the impact.
It is crystal clear that the choice of hybrid cars is likely to increase in the coming years. Indeed, BMW Group plans for 25 per cent of all its models sold by 2025 to be electrified in some way.
The PHEV MINI Countryman has got in early and made a big impact. In the weeks before and after launch, dealers across the land struggled to meet demand. It’s easy to see why.
To book your 48-hour test drive in the MINI Countryman Cooper S E ALL4, please contact the team at Bowker MINI
Bowker MINI Blackburn
Blackburn BB1 3NU