2018 Mini Countryman Hybrid: Monthly Update for January 2018
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Manager of Content Strategy
Where Did We Drive It?
It's music to my ears when Fleetmaster Mike Schmidt tells me that a long-term test car needs break-in miles because it simplifies the weekend-planning process. I know I'll be driving most of the time, so all I have to do is find some interesting stops along the way. Fortunately, there are plenty of those within a few hours of Edmunds' Santa Monica headquarters. It happened over the holidays with our new long-term 2018 Mini Countryman Hybrid — or the Cooper S E Countryman All4, if you speak Mini.
As is my wont, I settled on a Central Coast destination — Harmony Headlands State Park this time — but I resolved to take the long way, heading north on Interstate 5 and then west across Route 46 to Highway 1. It's a diverse drive, encompassing everything from craggy mountain ridges to the Central Valley's endless rows of crops to the gentle hills that roll toward Paso Robles, with the James Dean Memorial Junction thrown in for good measure.
Not surprisingly, the trip was a great way to get to know our Countryman. Keep reading for detailed logbook comments from both editor Rogers and myself — we recorded them independently and reached similar conclusions. Suffice it to say that this Mini may be an acquired taste. But then, aren't they all?
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
It's always a challenge to track the energy consumption of a plug-in hybrid, but as usual, we're going to give it the proverbial college try. The electrified Mini's paltry electric range actually simplifies matters somewhat since it means we'll be rolling up most of our miles in gasoline mode. (We're currently at 93.5 percent gas power, as you'll see in the data below.) Still, we've already seen a pure-electric run of more than 21 miles, which beats the EPA's 12-mile estimate by an astonishing margin. Maybe there's more to the EV side of this rig than the official numbers suggest.
Average gasoline-only mpg: 27.6
Best gasoline-only mpg: 32.8
EPA mpg rating: 27 combined
Best gasoline-only range: 244 miles
Best combined gasoline-electric range: 262.7 miles
Average electric range: 13.6 miles
Best electric range: 21.2 miles
EPA electric range rating: 12 miles
Proportion of miles driven in electric mode: 6.5%
Current odometer: 1,661 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"First road trip in the electrified Countryman is in the books, and putting aside the paltry 12-mile EV range, I'd say you've got about 240 miles of real-world highway range in this thing before it's time to refuel. Two simple reasons for that: 1) the 9.5-gallon gas tank is really small (the other Countrymen get a 16.1-gallon tank), and 2) the plug-in Mini's EPA combined rating of 27 mpg isn't great, especially for a hybrid. Notably, the Countryman S All4 gets a nearly identical 26 mpg combined rating from the EPA, which means it should be able to crest 400 highway miles on a single tank. It'll also cost you less upfront and accelerate at roughly the same rate based on the numbers I've seen. In sum, unless that 12-mile EV range is going to be a game-changer somehow in your life, it's hard to make the argument for this Mini." — Josh Sadlier, senior manager of content strategy
"Initially, I was skeptical of the Countryman Hybrid's powertrain. Under the hood is the same three-cylinder as in the standard Cooper, but now it's mated to a battery pack with just 12 miles of electric range. The battery's size requirements meant shrinking the gas tank from 16.1 gallons to 9.5, reducing the maximum range between fill-ups from 403 miles (on an all-wheel-drive, automatic-equipped Cooper) to 270 in our hybrid (or Cooper S E Countryman All4, as Mini calls it). Then there's the fact the hybrid starts at more than $10,000 above the Cooper's base price. What is this thing and why does it exist?
"But I found myself liking the Countryman Hybrid the more I drove it. First, it's not a Cooper competitor. The battery isn't there for providing low-cost EV transportation either. In fact, if you fill up from empty at a charging station that charges by the hour, it could cost you a few bucks just to go 12 miles.
"It's best to think of the battery as a power-assist device, providing more horsepower than the Cooper S and more torque than the high-performance John Cooper Works model, but with minimal fuel consumption. By Mini's own estimates, the Cooper Hybrid will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph quicker than the Cooper S and achieve better fuel economy.
"I've only been in the Countryman Hybrid for a few days, but I'm impressed with how the battery fills the three-cylinder's power gaps, even when the battery isn't fully charged. This might be the right variant for you if you want decent acceleration and live in a state that offers HOV access for plug-ins. If it were my money, I'd still go for the slightly slower — but far less expensive — Cooper S." — Cameron Rogers, staff writer