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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-31-2017, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
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Mini Hybrid

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SUV Review: 2018 Mini Countryman Cooper S E All4 | Driving

ďMini has experimented in the past with an all-electric derivative of its three-door Cooper, and will launch a new electric drive model in 2019. But before it arrives comes the first plug-in hybrid from the brand, in the form of the Countryman. Itís all Mini, with little in the way of compromise and much better fuel efficiency.

The heart and soul of the hybrid is a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder gas engine, an electric motor and a 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery. The latter can be charged in 2.5 hours using a 220-volt outlet and it delivers an electric-only driving range of up to 40 kilometres.

The gas engine generates 134 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft. of torque at a suitably low 1,250 rpm, driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with sport and manual modes. The electric motor powers the rear wheels and chips in with another 87 horsepower and 122 lb.-ft. the instant the electric motor begins to turn. With both power sources working, the Countryman Cooper S E All4 has a combined output of 221 horsepower and 284 lb.-ft. of torque.

The plus is, as both the engine and electric motor produce peak torque at such low rpm, the hybrid delivers the perky performance expected of a Cooper S with the fuel economy demanded of a hybrid. The numbers tell the story ó the test generated an average fuel economy of 7.8 L/100 kilometres. A big part of the efficiency is that the electric motor did the lionís share of the work on a city drive, meaning virtually no gasoline usage. The flip side is the plug-in hybrid scoots from rest to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds. Thatís like having your cake and eating it, too.

The hybridís powertrain layout brings all-wheel-drive traction. Unlike Miniís mechanical ALL4 system, this one coordinates the two power sources to get the power down on a slippery, snow-covered road with surprisingly efficiency. Yes, when in dynamic traction control mode it allows both ends to slide when this driver wanted, but it proved to be a remarkably proficient system.

As is to be expected, there are multiple driving modes. The electric side has EV, Auto, eDrive and Save. The latter allows the driver to preserve and charge the battery for use at another time. The engine has the usual Eco, Mid and Sport modes. If fuel economy is your bag, pick Auto eDrive and Eco ó but the downside is the somewhat lethargic feel because of the quest for outright efficiency. Auto eDrive and Mid mode is best for everyday use, as everything feels sharper without giving up on the quest for economy.

When itís time to have fun, put the Countryman hybrid in eDrive and Sport modes. Now, the two power sources focus on delivering peak performance, making it remarkably snappy for a hybrid. Sure, it does impinge on the fuel economy, but itís worth burning a little more fossil fuel for the fun factor.

What the hybrid does not sacrifice is the impish road manners expected of a Mini. In spite of its size, the Countryman hunkers down and whips through a corner with the very best of them. There was little body roll and the steering was crisp with good feedback. On that note, the brake pedal, unlike so many hybrids, had a realistic feel and so it was easily modulated. The impressive part is the dynamics hide the hybridís extra mass nicely ó it is 126 kilograms heavier than the Countryman Cooper S.

The cabin is all Mini ó toggle switches galore, the speedometer sits atop the steering column and the infotainment system, with its touchscreen display, rides high in the centre stack. It also featured the all-encompassing Mini Connected XL package; the neat part is the ability to setup and number of different trips by punching in starting and end points with the date and time of the trip. It supports Google and Apple maps, and can be transferred to the onboard navigation system using Wi-Fi, which cuts down on needless data consumption. When on a given trip, it updates the estimated time of arrival by factoring in real-time traffic information. During the last kilometre of the drive, it highlights the available parking in the area. Once parked, it allows the driver to find the Mini on a smart phone using the appís map. There are too many functions to go into in detail, but it is a welcome addition.

The driverís environment is classy with comfortable sport seats and a good driving position. Sadly, heated seats are bundled up in the Essentials package; surely that package name indicates it should be mandatory, not a $1,450 option? Visibility is so-so ó while the backup camera and sonic sensors eases the parking chore, the scene through the rearview mirror is hampered by the headrests and thereís no blind spot monitoring ó frankly, unforgivable on a car pushing $50,000.

Slide rearward and there is ample space for two adults and decent cargo space. The only real compromise is the taller rear seat; it sits over the battery, so cargo capacity drops by 45 litres with the seats up and by 115 (to 1,275 litres) with the 40/20/40 split seats folded. The sacrifice, given the upsides, is not worth fretting about.

The hybrid Countryman brings the benefits of the space and pace, but with much fuel economy. There are some nits to pick, but as a package, the Countryman Cooper S E plug-in hybrid gets it done without being a dullard to drive.Ē

Eco Stig
SOME SAY, that when he gets into his car, he plugs the IMA cable into his left ear Ö but no one can tell who is charging whom!
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-31-2017, 04:29 PM
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-31-2017, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Fediej View Post
For 50grand they can keep it.
Keep in mind, thatís a Canadian review, so it is in CAD.
The regular Countryman starts at $30K up here and the JCW All4 is about $39.

The hybrid price translates to US$40K.
Still not cheap, but consider that it employs a de-tuned version of the hybrid system in the i8 and it comes into perspective.

Not what Iíd spend my money on, mind you. But what I thought interesting was that the hybrid system still has to be promoted for its performance characteristics rather than the part it may play in ďsaving the planetĒ. And the touted fuel economy ainít that stellar.

Eco Stig
SOME SAY, that when he gets into his car, he plugs the IMA cable into his left ear Ö but no one can tell who is charging whom!
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-31-2017, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by CR-Z Canadian View Post
...Not what Iíd spend my money on, mind you. But what I thought interesting was that the hybrid system still has to be promoted for its performance characteristics rather than the part it may play in ďsaving the planetĒ. And the touted fuel economy ainít that stellar.
Yeah, the price is a bit up there, but I was lusting after the hybrid power to the rear wheels. And... I thought I was the only one who considered the best aspect of the CR-Z (and other lesser hybrids,) was the additional power/torque available with the electric motor. As for fuel economy--anything that gets a minimum of 30 mpg's is worth buying, in the name of savings in my wallet on a daily basis--if it "saves the planet" during that process, it provides me a nice place to drive it.

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 12-31-2017, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by CR-Z Canadian View Post
Interesting ...
Yes. I wish the Z had a couple of pancake motors in the rear hubs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CR-Z Canadian View Post
The heart and soul of the hybrid is a 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder gas engine,
Wow. Which cylinder has the soul, and which one has the heart?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CR-Z Canadian View Post
As is to be expected, there are multiple driving modes. The electric side has EV, Auto, eDrive and Save. The latter allows the driver to preserve and charge the battery for use at another time. The engine has the usual Eco, Mid and Sport modes. If fuel economy is your bag, pick Auto eDrive and Eco — but the downside is the somewhat lethargic feel because of the quest for outright efficiency. Auto eDrive and Mid mode is best for everyday use, as everything feels sharper without giving up on the quest for economy.
Y'know, real clever and all, and even I am amused by the Z's behavior buttons, but isn't it about time the cars can figure out from what we're doing with the throttle how we want it to behave? Kick-down throttles used to do this without the gimcrackery.

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Originally Posted by CR-Z Canadian View Post
it is 126 kilograms heavier than the Countryman Cooper S.
Ah. Precious road-hugging weight. You don't want to be in one of those cars that get blown all over the road because they're so light.

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Originally Posted by CR-Z Canadian View Post
During the last kilometre of the drive, it highlights the available parking in the area. Once parked, it allows the driver to find the Mini on a smart phone using the app’s map. There are too many functions to go into in detail, but it is a welcome addition.
Good lord, how dim are Mini drivers?
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Originally Posted by CR-Z Canadian View Post
while the backup camera and sonic sensors eases the parking chore, the scene through the rearview mirror is hampered by the headrests and there’s no blind spot monitoring....
Hey, monkey brains- THAT'S WHAT THE REAR CAMERA IS FOR, duh.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CR-Z Canadian View Post
frankly, unforgivable on a car pushing $50,000.
I don't know how bad 50K is anymore (regardless the conversion), but as a co-worker just spent 70K on a load of crap GMC troop transport, I guess we shouldn't be shocked.

The shocking part is how amazingly close the looks of the Countryman come to duplicating the appearance of ass on a cracker. A hairy one. Like the Camaro, Mustang, Charger, Challenger and on and on, could we get over fifty-year-old designs and start over, perhaps even with new names?

And I'm still wary of the tales of the Mini being a sixty-thousand mile car.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CR-Z Canadian View Post
The hybrid Countryman brings the benefits of the space and pace, but with much fuel economy. There are some nits to pick, but as a package, the Countryman Cooper S E plug-in hybrid gets it done without being a dullard to drive.”[/I]
Of course. "I'm an Automotive Journalist, so Every Car I Review is the best automobile that's ever been made. Can I have my check now?"
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