In-Depth: 2017 Countryman Cooper S E Hybrid

The long awaited and highly anticipated MINI plugin hybrid is here in the form of the 2017 Countryman Cooper S E Hybrid. Yup it’s a mouthful so for the time being we’re going to be shortening it and referring to the new hybrid as the Countryman E.

This is a model that MotoringFile has been reporting details on for almost four years now. We’ve known everything fro basic architecture to final outputs for some time. But there’s plenty to dig into now that MINI has officially lifted the curtain on the model.

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The Countryman E is the first model of the British premium brand in which a plug-in hybrid drive provides the option of mobility that is purely electric and therefore emissions-free, in addition to offering typical MINI performance. The job of providing efficient forward propulsion is shared between a 3-cylinder gasoline engine and a synchronous electric motor. Together they produce a system output of 221 hp. The Countryman E is thus the perfect vehicle for urban target groups who wish to enjoy the benefits of purely electric mobility when commuting between home and work every day, for example, while at the same time benefiting from unlimited long-distance suitability at the weekend.

The Countryman E combines the variable space concept of the new model generation’s largest member with the sustainability of BMW Group eDrive technology and an electrified all-wheel drive system. The front wheels are powered by the combustion engine, the rear wheels by the electric motor. The Countryman E is able to run on electricity alone not just in urban traffic but far beyond, too – at a top speed of 77 mph and with a range of up to 24 miles. Drawing on the power of both drive forms, it offers mild off-road ability as well. “The plug-in hybrid concept perfectly matches the new MINI Countryman because it offers intelligent all-wheel drive as well as being able to run on electricity alone both in urban areas and over longer distances, too. This is unique in the segment,” says Uwe Seitz, Countryman E project manager.

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The Countryman E: an overview of the highlights.

The brand’s first ever plug-in hybrid model.

  • High-quality BMW Group eDrive components, configured to suit this specific model, that draw on expertise gained from the development of BMW iPerformance automobiles.
  • 3-cylinder gasoline engine and electric motor combine to produce a total system output of 221 hp.
  • Electric driving at speeds of up to 77 mph with a range of up to 24 miles*.
  • Novel driving experience due to the electrified all-wheel drive system ALL4.
  • Three operating modes available for selection via eDrive toggle switch.
  • Hybrid-specific displays.

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Believe it or Not, MINI is a pioneer in the field of electric mobility.

The BMW Group’s technological expertise and range of models have given it a leading role in the area of electric mobility. MINI was an early pioneer here: the MINI E presented in 2008 was the BMW Group’s first ever purely electrically powered automobile and was driven by private users in everyday traffic as part of a large-scale field experiment. More than 600 of this vehicle based on the MINI Cooper were used for practical testing purposes worldwide. The project yielded vital insights into the use of electrically powered automobiles, and these were incorporated in the development of the BMW i3.

Two is Better Than One: MINI TwinPower Turbo and eDrive technology combined.

The plug-in hybrid drive of the Countryman E combines the best of two worlds. The familiar space under the bonnet is occupied by a 3- cylinder gasoline engine with MINI TwinPower Turbo Technology from the latest generation of the BMW Group engines. From a capacity of 1.5 liters this mobilizes a peak output of 134 hp. The maximum torque of the engine is 162 ft-lbs., which goes on stream at 1,250 rpm. In the Countryman E, the combustion engine is combined with a modified 6-speed Steptronic transmission.

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Electric Drive Done the MINI Way.

The second power unit of the MINI S E Countryman ALL4 is an electric motor that is housed under the luggage compartment floor. Designed according to the principle of a hybrid synchronous motor, the electric drive offers an output of 87 hp – which is particularly high considering its size and weight – and generates a maximum torque of 122 ft-lbs. that is characteristically available directly from standing. In addition, it provides constant power delivery even in high engine speed ranges as well as a very high level of efficiency. The electric motor directs its power to the rear axle via a two-stage single-speed transmission.

The 2017 MINI Countryman  (up top) and Countryman E (bottom)

The 2017 MINI Countryman (up top) and Countryman E (bottom)

Lithium-ion battery: compact, powerful and produced using exclusive expertise.

The lithium-ion battery is positioned directly in front of the electric motor underneath the rear seat. It is made up of five modules, each comprising 16 battery cells, and like the electric motor it is produced at the Dingolfing plant, the BMW Group’s competence centre for eDrive technology. The high-voltage battery has a capacity of 7.6 kWh. Charging at a 240-volt socket (the type commonly installed for household appliances) takes 3 hours and 15 minutes.

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Intelligent energy management optimises driving fun and efficiency.

The intelligent energy management system controlled by the power electronics of the plug-in hybrid system ensures that the interplay between the combustion engine and the electric motor is optimised for both driving fun and efficiency in all situations. MINI promises that the electric motor alone will still deliver typical MINI feel. However, if more acceleration is required, the electric motor supports the combustion engine via a boost function. A total system output of 221 hp and a combined torque of 284 ft- lbs. are available for sprints. Given this it’s not surprising that the Countryman E is the fastest F60 Countryman with a 0 to 60 time of 6.8 seconds.

Two power units, four drive wheels.

Only one of the two power units is used when the car is moving, while the other one can be additionally enabled at any time to optimise traction, ride stability and agility. The signal required for this purpose comes from the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) unit, which permanently analyses both the situation on the road and the driver’s wishes. “The result is an intelligent all-wheel drive system that ensures perfect movement in all weathers and on all road surfaces,” explains Uwe Seitz, Countryman E project manager. The precisely controlled interaction achieved in the powering of the front wheels by the combustion engine and the rear wheels by the electric motor is the same as the principle that is applied in the BMW i8, only the other way around: it is a key factor that contributes to the character of the plug-in hybrid sports car.

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The eDrive toggle switch: purely electric power at the press of a button.

The driver can also use the eDrive toggle switch to choose between three operating modes.

AUTO eDRIVE – Purely electric driving up to 55 mph , the combustion engine is additionally enabled at higher speeds, in particular when accelerating quickly or when the battery charge falls below seven per cent.

MAX eDRIVE – Purely electric driving up to 78 mph , the combustion engine is additionally enabled at higher speeds or on kickdown.

SAVE BATTERY – The car is powered by the combustion engine, the battery charge state is kept above 90 percent or raised to this level by the starter generator.

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This is the same system that we recently experienced in the BMW 330e. During our time we found the modes to be effective at reducing battery consumption or giving maximum performance depending on when we’d get to our next power source.

In the standard setting AUTO eDRIVE, the Countryman E runs on electrical power only up to a speed of 55 mph . At higher speeds and in the case of very intensive loads, the combustion engine is automatically enabled in addition. In MAX eDRIVE mode the vehicle is powered by the electric motor alone at speeds up to 78 mph . What is more, the SAVE BATTERY mode can be selected so as to relieve the capacity of the high-voltage battery or raise its charge state to at least 90 percent so that sufficient electrical power remains for locally emissions-free driving later on.

If the Countryman E is fitted with a navigation system and route guidance is activated, the anticipatory energy management system ensures that appropriate sections of the route are run on electric power alone. Taking into account the navigation data, the operating strategy of the hybrid system is geared towards drawing on the energy capacity of the high-voltage battery to maximum extent. In other words the Countryman E gets much smarter when you use the navigation.

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Interior Versatility Retained

Thanks to the compact structure and arrangement of the eDrive components, the plug-in hybrid model variant of the new MINI Countryman has a versatile interior. The high-voltage battery is housed underneath the slightly raised rear seat, as is the 9.5-gallon fuel tank. When all seats are in use, the luggage compartment volume in the Countryman E is only slightly less than in the conventionally powered model variants. The rear backrests offer the possibility of a 40 : 20 : 40 split; they can also be folded down and varied in their tilt angle. “The entire hybrid technology is installed in such a way that you don’t notice it inside the car at all,” says Uwe Seitz, Countryman E project manager, “with the exception of the controls used to activate the various driving modes.”

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Hybrid-specific design features and displays.

The Countryman E has a few discreet indications of it’s hybrid-ness. The connection for the charging cable is under a flap in the area of the left-hand side scuttle. Other features are the model-specific “e” badge on the side scuttles and also a yellow “S” in the model inscription on the rear as well as on the radiator grille and door sill finishers.

The special features of the cockpit include a yellow start/stop unit at the centre of the toggle switch panel and a performance display in the instrument cluster on the steering column. The Countryman E comes as standard with the MINI Connected infotainment system featuring a 6.5-inch color screen in the central instrument. This displays information such as the charge state of the high- voltage battery and operating mode of the hybrid drive selected by eDrive toggle switch. In conjunction with the optional Technology Package Wired package including satelite navigation, operation is via a high-resolution 8.8-inch touchscreen with a new user interface and operating system.

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