Enlarge (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)
Earlier this year, we tried out the new Mini Countryman and came away impressed.

The little crossover combined the driving feel of its smaller siblings with practicality like usable back seats and better cargo capacity.

The one we really wanted to try—the Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 plug-in hybrid EV version—wasn’t available back in March, but it is now.
It remains a quirky and engaging drive when internal combustion and electromechanical systems are working in harmony, but the small battery means you do have to plug it in at every opportunity for that to happen.
The bits that make it go
Under the hood the Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 (henceforth known as the hybrid Mini) uses the same engine as the standard Countryman Cooper.

The 1.5L 134hp (100kW), 162lb-ft (220Nm) three-cylinder turbocharged engine now just drives the front wheels via a six-speed Steptronic (automatic) transmission.

The rear axle is now driven by an 89hp (65kW), 122lb-ft (165Nm) electric motor, instead of the mechanical Haldex-style system you would find in a conventionally powered all-wheel-drive Mini.

The setup is closely related to the one we liked so much in the BMW i8, although a more accurate comparison would be with the Europe-only BMW 2-Series Active Tourer (that’s all but identical).
Together with the 7.6kWh lithium-ion battery, the hybrid Mini is about 200lbs heavier than a Cooper S Countryman ALL4. (Curb weight is 3,825lbs/1,735kg.) But with a combined output of 221hp (165hp), and more importantly a combined torque figure of 283lb-ft (385Nm), it’s quite a bit more potent: zero to 62mph (100km/h) takes 6.8 seconds compared to 7.4 seconds for the four-cylinder gasoline-powered car. On city streets it’s a highly effective powertrain, but it rarely gives you full power or torque from both sources of propulsion at once.

That depends on the precise combination of drive modes.
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