The modern MINI brand has gone under constant expansion to incorporate various body shape, sizes, and different spice levels. This has allowed the brand to meet its hardcore fanbase at every life stage, as well as broaden appeal. The portfolio now includes three and five-door hatchbacks, a convertible, and a crossover, with flavours that range from commuter to track-ready hot hatch. The latest offering – 2022 MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 plug-in hybrid – is one we think will carry the biggest appeal to the broad market.
The Countryman received a refresh last year with the biggest difference being the renewed front end. LED head and fog lights have become standard equipment, and the LED taillights feature the Union Jack design to reflect the MINI’s British roots. The MINI Countryman has always been one of the more attractive options in the segment and the latest facelift has just extended its shelf life.
Changes on this plug-in hybrid version are subtle – you will notice a couple of E badges on the charging port door and on the rear hatch, as well some font colour changes on the S badges. Otherwise the Cooper SE Countryman is hard to distinguish from the standard gasoline powered models. We appreciate that MINI has managed to resist the urge to make their electrified vehicles funky looking like many other manufacturers and kept the clean and classic look across its lineup.
The MINI Cooper SE Countryman shares the same turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine found in the standard MINI Cooper, but adds an electric synchronous motor that powers the rear wheels to produce a combined 223 horsepower. Don’t let the green badges fool you, this MINI can move pretty quickly. Zero to 100 km/h is achieved in 6.8 seconds – not a blistering fast time but you would think you are in a much faster car as the electric motor offers instantaneous power from the start.
MINIs have always focused on delivering a fun driving experience and the SE Countryman is no exception. While it is no hot hatch like the MINI John Cooper Works GP, you can tell the DNA is there – the MINI Cooper SE Countryman engages with above-average steering feel and nimble reflexes, and it being a hybrid vehicle does nothing to detract from its handling abilities. The only complaint is the vague pedal feel from the regenerative braking system, but it is not worse than any other systems in the market that convert energy generated from braking into usable battery power.
You know the not-very-old adage “your mileage may vary”? While the phrase might not have originated from describing the SE Countryman ALL4’s fuel economy, it might as well have been as that is exactly the experience. We started the week at 0.9L/100km for the short commute to and from work (that number could have been zero if we stayed within the MINI’s 29-kilometre range), which quickly ballooned to 3.9L/100km after a 100km highway jaunt, and we settled on 2.8L/100km for the week of combined driving with a full charge every morning.
These are remarkable numbers – especially in this day and age when gas feels as expensive as beer – and urban users can easily get through the week on electric power only if they have access to a level two charger. Full charge can be achieved in a couple of hours on a level two charger, and the real convenience is that it can be completely recharged by plugging the MINI Cooper SE Countryman into a standard 120-volt outlet overnight. Premium fuel is recommended (89-octane minimum) but we don’t suppose many are complaining having achieved this level of fuel efficiency.
The MINI Cooper SE Countryman retains the standard MINI Cooper’s interior design. The centre roundel touchscreen on the dashboard pays homage to the classic Mini Cooper, and the toggle-switch design adds both form and function to the cabin. We love how easy the toggle switches are to use even when driving, and we think its industrial design language will continue to age well in the long run.
The MINI’s 8.8-inch screen size is a bit smaller than we would have liked to see, but the optional digital instrument cluster and head-up display help burden some of the load so drivers are not relying on the main screen for information. We do like the vivid screen resolution and youthful graphics design, and the easy-to-use infotainment system. Commands are accepted using a rotary dial on the centre console or through touch, and additional shortcut keys located directly below the screen make accessing improved the overall user experience.
The Countryman’s boxy shape made for decent interior space for its occupants. There is good head and legroom for both row of passengers, relatively speaking, and the large side windows let in a good amount of sunlight into the cabin. The seats are generally comfortable, but the bottom cushions are a bit short for long road trip comfort. Cargo space easily doubles that of the standard three-door MINI at 487 litres and the rear bench folds in a useable 40-20-40 format for maximum flexibility.
The optional Premier+ package on our tester adds key driving assistance features such as Frontal Collision Warning, Speed Limit Information, High Beam Assistant, Parking Assistant, and Lane Departure Warning systems, along with luxury features such as the Harmon Kardon premium stereo, panoramic sunroof, centre armrest for the second row, and heated front seats and steering wheel.
The 2022 MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 starts at a reasonable $44,990, which is only about $5,000 more than the regular Countryman model, and our sticker price arrived at $54,840 with all the optional features built in. There are not many direct competitions against the MINI Cooper SE Countryman, with the closest being the Hyundai Tucson Plug-in Hybrid and the Toyota RAV4 Prime but we don’t suppose these are often cross-shopped.
This gives the 2022 MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 an innate advantage for shoppers looking for a stylish way to boot around town without breaking the bank on car payments or at the gas pump. We can easily see its appeal even if you are not a hardcore MINI enthusiast, and an absolute no-brainer choice for a PHEV crossover if you are one.