Originally published on Gas2.
By Steve Hanley
Rumors of a plug-in hybrid MINI Countryman have been swirling for a while now. But the emphasis was always the PHEV MINI was coming, never that it was actually here. Now, according to BMWBlog, prototypes have been caught testing in the wild. And this is not some ordinary plug-in vehicle like you might get from Toyota or Hyundai. No, this is a hairy chested beast the borrows heavily from the mighty BMW i8 sports car.
Isn’t this what we have all been pleading for — a plug-in hybrid crossover instead of another boring sedan? The MINI Countryman is “mini” in name only. This thing is HUGE. I was behind one in traffic the other day. I haven’t seen hips that wide since my great aunt Bertha shuffled off this mortal coil back in ’08. The upcoming Countryman is said to be even longer and wider.
Branded the MINI Countryman E, the new model will have a 1.5 liter turbocharged three cylinder engine powering the front wheels through a six speed automatic transmission. An electric motor takes care of turning the rear wheels. A high voltage generator mounted to the front axle will provide added boost to the engine for short periods of time, generate electricity for the battery, and act as a starter motor.
Specs on the powertrain are as follows. The gasoline engine front is rated at 136 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Another 20 horsepower is available from the front mounted motor/generator. The electric motor in the rear has 88 horsepower and 122 lb-ft of torque. Electric only range is said to be 24 miles in the European test cycle. The car can travel up to 50 mph before the combustion engine gets added to the mix. The hybrid Countryman has exactly the same interior volume as the regular car, right down to the underfloor storage area in the rear. Both seat 5 passengers.
We don’t have word on availability of the Countryman E or pricing information yet, but it should be a welcome addition to the MINI lineup. The plug-in hybrid version of the BMW 3 series is sold out across Europe, with demand far exceeding BMW’s expectations. They are hoping to have the same problem when the Countryman E is becomes available.
Source and photo credits: BMW Blog
Reprinted with permission.