Car review – Mini Cooper SE Countryman

A car with character

Since last year’s model update, the Mini Countryman has regained its place in the “real” plug-in hybrids club. It also seems to offer a more homogeneous package than before.

 

From fake to real

The second generation of Mini’s crossover dates back to 2017. Last year it was time for the usual midlife facelift, which immediately ironed out a tax issue that had emerged in 2018 – in Belgium at least.

The government had introduced the concept of “fake hybrid” for PHEVs that emit more than 50 g/km and/or have a battery that is too small. With its 7.7 kWh battery, this then meant that the Countryman S E was no longer fiscally attractive between 2018 and 2020. Last year, Mini has increased the capacity to 9.6 kWh, putting it back on the list of options for many company car drivers.

 

Stylish and practical

The Mini Countryman is in fact a unique offering in the compact SUV segment. With its rounded bonnet, fascinatingly sculpted headlights with thick eyeliner and an almost vertical windscreen, no other crossover of this size exudes so much character.

The boxy rear makes sitting in the back quite comfortable too – there’s no claustrophobic sloping roofline like there is in the new Opel Mokka, for example – while the 405 litres of cargo capacity isn’t bad either. The back seat can be folded down in three separate parts, but can’t be moved backwards or forwards. 

 

Sophisticated but a little thirsty

You’ll notice that parent brand BMW isn’t new to plug-in hybrid drivetrains from the seamless way in which the 1.5 three-cylinder connects to the electric drive. When you put your foot down a bit, the petrol engine will quickly kick in and give you a gradual, shock-free push in the back.

In our entire test drive, which consisted of 70% motorway and 30% a combination of built-up areas and 70 km/h roads, we totalled a consumption of 9 kWh/100 km and 6.3 l/100 km, which isn’t exceptionally economical. Part of the reason for that lies in the fact that on the motorway it doesn’t take you long to hit 7.5 l/100 km. This is slightly more than your average petrol version because of course you’re lugging around the batteries and you’re getting little to no electrical support here.

Wide range of personalisation options

One thing’s for sure, the Countryman is surprisingly quiet on that motorway, making for a pleasant ride. Also contributing to its motorway skills is its adaptive cruise control that works really well. What’s really impressive on bad roads is how forgiving the shock absorption is. Bumps and potholes get smoothed out as if you were in a limousine.

The sports seats also play their part in the Countryman’s exemplary comfort. These are standard on the Cooper S E All4, which you can dress up to your heart’s content to make it your own. 

No other crossover is as attractive as the Countryman. The Cooper S E All4 is also a really pleasant drive and has reclaimed its tax benefits. But if you’re going to regularly rely on the combustion engine, don’t expect any miracles when it comes to consumption.

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      +Appearance and finish

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      +Driving comfort and sophistication

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      +Spacious and practical

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      - Too many expensive options - Thirsty on the motorway