Last week we gave you an inside look at the 2017 MINI Countryman and it’s plugin hybrid variant. This week we’re showing you a bit more with our first look at the crossover’s silhouette, internal structure and safety features.
As you can see the Countryman will have all the standard safety structure we’ve some to expect from MINIs. But you can also see some distinct difference between the new car and the previous R60 Countryman (below) in terms of structural safety. More specifically the new Countryman will now have upper side impact beams to meant to produce a higher level of side impact safety.
Also evident are the overall styling changes that can be inferred in this schematic. As you can just make out the new Countryman will be more taut with well placed creasing and angles that add up to a bit more aggressive look. We’ve heard that the F60 Countryman was going to look a bit more “authentic” according to one source and now it’s clear to see what that comment means. While textured (and likely silver colored) plastic sills trim may not technically increase authenticity, it will give the Countryman a more rugged look over the previous car.
Looking at both the standard F60 Countryman and the new Countryman E (plugin hybrid) we can also see a dramatic difference in components and complexity. The plugin will be MINI’s most technically advanced car to date leveraging what is essentially the BMW i8’s drivetrain turned 180 degrees.
In many situations the Countryman E will basically be a electric car. The range on electric power alone as measured in the EU test cycle will be 38 kilometers or about 24 miles. With an approximate 50 mph electric mode speed limiter, the Countryman E will have the ability to run in 100% electric mode for many urban commutes. In many scenarios the Countryman E will likely feel like an electric car.
We’ve spoken at length about the new plugin hybrid drivetrain to be featured in the Countryman in previous articles but it’s always worth a brief recap.
The Countryman E plug-in hybrid fuses BMW eDrive with a model-specific form of power transmission – in this case based on the front-drive Countryman Cooper 3 cylinder. The 1.5-litre BMW TwinPower Turbo engine generates an output of 100 kW/136 hp together with a peak torque of 220 Nm (162 lb-ft), with power relayed to the front wheels via a six-speed Steptronic transmission. The additional high- voltage generator on the front axle fulfils three different tasks: it boosts the combustion engine for brief periods with extra output of up to 15 kW and some 150 Nm (111 lb-ft) from rest, generates electric power while on the move (which is fed directly to the high-voltage battery), and enables the engine to be started and turned off very smoothly thanks to its higher output compared to conventional starters. The electric motor is located above the rear axle, together with its two-speed transmission and the power electronics. It sends output of up to 65 kW/88 hp and maximum torque of 165 Nm (122 lb-ft) through the rear wheels.
When Does it Go On-Sale?
BMW is in a bit of a predicament with Countryman production. The R60 has been built on contract by Magna Steyr in Austria as part of a BMW Group contract that included several other models. However due to shifting sales and production capacity elsewhere, the plant has been left with producing only the Countryman. Because of this the BMW Group isn’t going to hit their production target outlined in the agreement to build cars at the current production pace. Long story short, they are having to increase production of the R60 Countryman to fulfill their obligation before switching to the new car (which will be build by MINI in Oxford). In turn we believe MINI may have had to shift the internet launch of back slightly closer to the public launch this fall at the Paris Motor show October 1st
Sales of the Cooper and Cooper S launch models should begin in November with US delivering starting around the first of the year. Given the accelerated development of the Countryman E we believe it should debut at the same time and hit showrooms just after the first petrol powered Countryman are delivered.