BMW announced recently that the British premium brand is getting its first plug-in hybrid model. The first vehicle in line to get it will be the Countryman, boasting an all-wheel drive.

The Coutryman PHEV, which is coming to retailers sometime next year, will be equipped with a plugin hybrid powertrain, comprised of a petrol engine that will power the front wheels and the electric motor that will power the rear pair.

According to Head of MINI brand management Sebastian Mackensen and Head of MINI series management Peter Wolf, Countryman PHEV won't look very different on the outside compared to other versions - apart from the charging socket for the high-voltage battery is discreetly integrated in the left Side Scuttle. There is also little change in the interior, where the start/stop button in the centre of the dashboard glows yellow instead of red, and the rpm counter in the instrument cluster on the steering column has been replaced with a power display, informing the driver about the electric motor's power reserves before the combustion engine fires up. The moment at which that happens depends on the vehicle's speed and the intensity with which the driver steps on the accelerator pedal.

Countryman PHEV will be able to reach a maximum speed of 80 km/h in standard electric mode AUTO eDRIVE, while in MAX eDRIVE mode, it will be able to speed up to 125 km/h. There will also be a SAVE BATTERY feature, during which the combustion engine powers the car and charges the high voltage battery.

While developing Countryman PHEV, engineers didn't meddle much with the powertrain, but they did make sure it will be as agile as in other model variants. Helping achieve greater agility is also the battery which is positioned very low down at the rear, so the car's centre of gravity is lowered and the weight is evenly balanced between the front and rear axle. Since the electric motor transmits its power to the rear wheels, there will be enough traction - the system is linked to the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), so traction and drive stability are optimised in general as well.

Oct. 20, 2016 Driving photo: Mini

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