With a plug-in hybrid option, BMW confirm they are taking the MINI Countryman to an all new level. Based on the technology underpinning of the BMW 225xe, a model based on the Countryman chassis, buyers are now offered a more environmentally conscious MINI without compromising the driving experience.
The development process for this car has almost been completed and features a combustion engine and an electric motor enabling purely electric propulsion for the first time in a MINI.
In the true spirit of a MINI, the first MINI plug-in hybrid model is not solely focused on efficiency, but uncompromising in pursuit of driving fun:
At first glance, you wouldn’t recognise the test car as a hybrid model. And that’s not because of the camouflage foil used. The charging socket for the high-voltage battery is discreetly integrated in the left Side Scuttle.
Everything also looks familiar in the cockpit. The start/stop button in the centre of the dashboard glows yellow instead of red. As usual, you simply press the button to start the car – this vehicle, however, remains silent as the hybrid model always starts in electric mode. The rpm counter in the instrument cluster on the steering column has been replaced with a power display. Keeping a close eye on this display is particularly worthwhile for the first few miles as it informs the driver about the electric motor’s power reserves before the combustion engine fires up. When exactly the combustion engine starts varies depending upon on the vehicle’s speed and the intensity with which the driver operate the accelerator pedal.
“After a short time, the driver gets a feel for this”, promises Head of MINI series management Peter Wolf.
And this new driving experience promises a lot of driving fun. The hybrid MINI makes full use of the electric motor’s entire torque, which is available right from standstill, allowing for catapult-like acceleration. Even after leaving the slower pace of the city, this vehicle maintains its zero-tailpipe emissions at motorway speeds.
The high-voltage battery under the rear seats provides power for long-lasting electric driving. AUTO eDRIVE standard mode permits speeds of up to 50 mph, whilst in MAX eDRIVE mode speeds of up to 78 mph are possible.
MINI’s go-kart driving characteristics consists of more than just fast acceleration. Above all, this hybrid MINI has to prove how precisely it handles when taking bends on the most exciting, twisting roads. No changes have been made to the chassis or suspension. Thanks to the eDrive components, which are positioned very low down at the rear, the car’s centre of gravity is lowered and the weight is evenly balanced between the front and rear axle.
The Hybrid concept provides yet another benefit: the electric motor transmits its power to the rear wheels, the combustion engine to the front wheels.
“As soon as there is any risk of drive slip, the second drive unit is activated to provide additional traction when starting off or ensuring a high level of steering precision when cornering”, explains Wolf.
The new vehicle is also equipped with a third driving mode accessed via the eDrive toggle switch: SAVE BATTERY.
In this mode, the combustion engine powers the car whilst at the same time, the high voltage battery can retain charge at a constant level or indeed increase charge via a generator. Extended driving in SAVE BATTERY mode enables enough power generation for purely electric driving later.