By on December 15, 2017

2018 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4

2017 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4

1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder with electric motor (221 system horsepower; 284 system lb-ft)

Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

27 combined, 65 MPGe (EPA Rating, MPG)

TBA (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $36,800 (U.S) / $43,490 (Canada)

As Tested: $40,000 (U.S.) / $52,661.09 (Canada)

Prices include $850 destination charge in the United States and $2,345 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Mini Coopers are one of those cars that easily starts a debate among the TTAC staff in our Slack channels. Are they fun to drive or not? Too “cutesy” or no? Is there a place in the market for them? Are they overpriced?

I’ve long been of the mind that Minis are fun to drive, too expensive, and it’s up to the beholder when it comes to the styling. I also think there is a place in the world for small “city” cars – though I’m biased, as I live in the kind of congested area where small cars thrive.

What I struggle with is why this Mini needs to exist. Other than a cynical attempt at boosting corporate fuel economy numbers, I don’t see a need for an all-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid that doesn’t have much EV-only range and doesn’t really need to be plugged in. Of course, if you don’t plug in, you get a shorter fuel range when running on gas than that of its stablemates.

Yes, you still get a Mini, and I disagree with other staffers about the styling – I like the looks, which continue to carry over the retro theme that honors the original.

You also still get Mini chassis tuning, which makes the S E Countryman (ugh, what a mouthful) pleasant to drive. It feels as if the extra weight of all-wheel drive and the PHEV setup takes some of the edge off, but reflexes remain sharp, at least in Sport and Mid driving modes. Flick the switch to Eco, and it becomes a test of patience.

2018 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4

That applies to both handling and acceleration. Sure, PHEVs are all about saving fuel, but I can’t see a reason to use Eco mode unless you’re a hypermiler or on a long, gentle highway cruise. Speaking of long cruises – the Mini is quite stable on the freeway, despite its diminutive size.

The hybrid system combines a turbocharged three-cylinder with 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque with an electric motor (87 horsepower, 122 lb-ft of torque) for a total of 221 horsepower and 284 lb-ft of torque. The system pairs with a six-speed automatic transmission.

In the spirit of transparency, I never bothered to plug the car in – accessing an outlet is a bit of a pain, and with 270 miles of gas-powered range available, I figured I could spare myself a little effort. Thing is, the Mini only offers up 12 miles of EV-only range, so what’s the point of plugging in? You end up with a car that loses some gas-only range for an EV-only range that’s well on the short side.

2018 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4

Tech details aside, you still get the Mini interior experience, which features cool-looking toggle switches and the by-now familiar circle-heavy design. It’s relatively spacious for such a small car, with my tall frame having no problems getting situated. Even in back, passenger room is what I’d call “decent.” However, interior storage space is lacking.

I’m one of those folks annoyed by infotainment systems that require too much menu manipulation for basic tasks, and the Countryman is guilty of this. It’s a relatively easy system to use, but diving through menus is time-consuming and distracting.

At least the car is well-equipped, with features such as nav, 18-inch wheels, rearview camera, LED head- and foglights, infotainment, satellite radio, heated front seats, USB, park-assist, and park-distance control.

The Countryman S E ALL4 is not a bad vehicle, but as stated above, I just don’t see the point in it. It has a base price of $36,800 and my tester rang up to an even $40,000 with options. Most of the above-listed features were included, so it was the Metallic Silver paint, the sport seats, park assist, head-up display, and satellite radio, plus $850 for D and D, that brought the price up.

2018 Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4

Which makes me wonder – who is paying $40K (before any tax credit – I concede the tax credit may make it worth it for some) for a PHEV that offers less fuel range than a non-PHEV Countryman and just 12 miles of EV-only range? Not to mention that with the exception of John Cooper Works models, all other Countrymans have a lower price of entry. Oh, and the PHEV is heavier and loses a bit of the Mini’s handling prowess.

As far as MPGs go, the PHEV version does offer the highest combined figure of all the Countrymans, but it’s only 1 to 4 mpg better than the rest. Hardly worth the extra investment.

Maybe I’m missing something. But in my book, paying more for less doesn’t make a lot of sense, even if you get a tax credit.

Don’t get me wrong – I like the Mini ethos overall. But if it were me at the dealership, I’d wander away from the plug-in and plunk down my cash on the “regular” Countryman. That seems the better deal.

[Images © 2017 Tim Healey/The Truth About Cars]

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36 Comments on “2018 Mini S E Countryman ALL 4 Review – A Business Case Gone Wrong...”


  • avatar
    vvk

    Someone with a short commute could use this car in EV-only mode. So it makes sense for those people.

    Also, does it get HOV stickers? That may be another good reason for the right person. I have friends in Toronto who bought a Fusion Energi for this reason — it saves several hundred dollars per month in 407 tolls for them.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      If you’re going to drop 40 large on a tiny plug in hybrid with a whoppin’ 12 miles of electric range, you might as well drop a few grand less, and get a Bolt.

      I’m sorry, this car makes absolutely zero sense. In fact, the pricing on the entire Mini line makes zero sense.

    • 0 avatar
      jeoff

      My neighbor (60ish, single-ish, female) has one. We live in the city-ish. Commute to work is about 3 miles one way. I am guessing she rarely charges it up. The car is cuter than a volt, and if she wants to go on a long trip refueling is easier. I am thinking about getting one of the Ford Enrrgi models used for the same commute—I live about 3 miles from work, but getting to gas station is a pain, and may need to go to the suburbs, or exurbs, or further on no notice.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      I should check into the HOV thing — my state doesn’t have HOV lanes, at least not anywhere I drive regularly.

  • avatar
    badreligion702

    A 12 mile EV range would get me to work and back with maybe the final 4 miles on gas. Seems useful to folks like me who have shorter commutes.

    • 0 avatar
      focus-ed

      Not just short commute. If the EV range can be utilized over the stop and go portion of the commute, the overall mpgs will greatly improve. Additional gains could be achieved if the ecu was not programmed to light off catalyst at any cost – before there’s need for gasoline engine thus burning gas to “save” the planet – but instead this is done while vehicle is traveling at sustained speed and actually using this fuel for propulsion.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’m with you, Tim – I want to like Mini. I really, really do. But their pricing is absolutely Looney Tunes.

    This model is going to be a prime offender due to the hybrid’s extra cost, but the non-hybrid is even loonier, if you ask me. There’s one on a dealer lot in my area for $35,000. That’s thirty-five large for a tiny CUV with the same basic engine setup you get in a $16,000 Fiesta. Who buys these?

    If the brand wants to survive here, they need to address this, stat.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      I want to like the Ferrari. I really, really do. There’s one on my dealer lot for $210,000. That’s over $200 large for a 2 seat sports car with the same basic setup you get in a $60,000 Corvette.

      I want to like the Range Rover. I really, really do. There’s one on my dealer lot for $110,000. That’s over $100 large for an SUV with the same basic setup you get in a $65,000 GMC Denali.

      Status, rarity, styling, special options – that is why you buy a Ferrari, Land Rover, or Mini – not value for money.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        Agreed, plus you get a well-built, rock-solid interior, and not an ugly, plastic-fantastic, chaotic interior, like you do in the Fiesta. Sometimes, you do get what you pay for, and in this case, you get an interior that feels like a $35,000 car’s should.

        • 0 avatar
          Oreguy

          “plus you get a well-built, rock-solid interior, and not an ugly, plastic-fantastic, chaotic interior…”

          What? They improved the interior quality? After owning a 2007 Mini Cooper S for a number of years with its supremely chintz interior, dreadful reliability, and exorbitant repair costs… I’ll take a Fiesta.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Because buying exotic sports cars and ultra-lux SUVs is exactly the same as buying a gas saver commuter. Well done, sir.

    • 0 avatar
      Wizerud

      And on the same lot you should be able to find the S with the 4 cylinder at thousands less. Maybe your local dealer sells more 3-cylinder versions with $9k of options (7 if AWD version) because that’s what it would take to get to 35k. Not exactly typical.

  • avatar
    Menar Fromarz

    What I have an issue with, which kills any shed of appeal: The thing (and most Mini’s now) look like somewhat flattened Fiat 500 Lounges. And thats not a good thing, with the giant Alero taillights and bloated look. The original, I kinda liked, this iteration, not so much.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    What I don’t know is how this Mini recharges. Can it recharge to it’s capacity using 110V household current in two hours? Or does it take all day? If one can recharge to capacity quickly, one scenario where it might make sense to hunt down all of the chargers in your area and use them as much as possible.

    But, I have to agree, $40K+++ for a hybrid with a 12 mile range? You’d have to be in love with the whole Mini idea. That kind of money will buy you a Pacifica Hybrid (MSRP $42K) which has a lot more utility and range. And probably will have cash on the hood if it doesn’t already.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I’d be more interested in an all electric mini with at least a 150 mile range for about $25K before rebates. I’m ready to write the check now.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I suspect this model is primarily aimed at Europe where several cities have announced plans to ban ICVs, so this model in electric mode would be a legal city car that can still have the range to be useful out in suburban areas. They just sell it in the US to pick up those few “must have” Mini buyers who want to be seen as green.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    There are probably a handful of people for whom this car makes sense. We’re talking people who commute short distances and want EV power but the ability to travel longer distances in the same car. Fine.

    But in addition to the points in this review, here’s where it really falls apart. This is billed as a Countryman S. But really it’s the engine of the regular Countryman with the addition of the electric motor. With a fresh charge you’ve got performance a little worse than the Countryman S. Then, after you drive 12 MILES you have performance that is a little worse than the regular Countryman. That seems like a raw deal given the price you paid. So that makes the whole thing even less justifiable. You have to do the vast majority of your driving within a couple miles of your home or you’re better off with a regular Countryman or a Countryman S or some other car.

  • avatar
    darex

    This car is fantastic. I own one, but NOT the PHEV version. I have a loaded F60 Cooper S, with a manual transmission and All4 (x-Drive). It’s big for a MINI, but not big at all compared to most cars in our market, and considerably smaller than most of them.

    This car is the only car I could have bought similarly equipped. That’s why MINI is unique, and that’s why it commands the money it does.

    The only good question is why this over its fraternal twin, the BMW X1. The X1 is the better buy (not cheaper, but better value), but in North America, it cannot be had with a manual. The Countryman drives better though and is more fun. It’s why BMW is coming out with the X2: An X1 that drives like the Countryman.

  • avatar
    make_light

    My dad has one of these, but not the electric version. I kind of love it. People say it’s too big for a Mini, but it’s still a good deal smaller than most any SUV. Plus it has a ton of room inside, and the materials are actually quite nice.
    Impact harshness is still a little hard/noisy on some bumps, but on a smooth road it drives beautifully. Like everyone says though, stupidly overpriced considering the base engine. If the S engine was standard and pricing stayed the same, it would be wholly competitive in every sense.

  • avatar

    Yes, it’s pointless, but sadly European emissions measurements are skewed wildly towards these hopelessly contrived machines.

    The (soon to be replaced) NEDC driving cycle used to calculate fuel consumption and emissions is measured in a laboratory, following a pre-set cycle that largely reflects semi-urban driving conditions – and a lot of plug-in hybrids can dispatch the whole cycle with the petrol engine barely being summoned into service.

    The resultant farcical numbers are officially accepted and the maker given a pat on the back for being so eco-aware, and the end user is granted hefty company-car tax advantages, even though the reality is he’ll probably never plug it in.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Mini is for someone who wants Mini. Not value. Not power.

    It’s a niche car that’s very customizable and for the right buyer who isn’t price sensitive, it works. For everyone else that comparison shops, the math will never scratch out. Mini prices don’t hold up under scrutiny.

  • avatar
    Mini-surf

    The writer here has completely missed the point of this vehicle. It’s the first plug-in hybrid that is useful for someone with an outdoor lifestyle and who cares about the environment.

    I just took delivery on one, and love it. On my morning surf check, the gas motor is not even turned on.

    The use case for me is quite strong. I can safely store a 9’longboard inside after surfing, if I’m not going straight home and need a secure place to store my boards. It has dedicated roof racks,to safely carry my 14′ stand up paddle board. 4WD for the snowboarding trips.

    Oh yeah, and it’s a LOT more fun to drive than any other PHEV in this price range. 6.8 seconds 0-60 beats most other PHEVs on the market by a lot.

    Do I wish it had more electric range? Sure. But since I live in California, there’s plenty of chargers available.

    My dealer was complaining pretty heavily about being unable to meet the extremely high demand for this car. In California, this car is a hit.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Lol, a dealer telling you the car you want is in high demand. Wow, that’s really something. In other words “if you don’t buy it, or try to beat me up on price, I got a buncha customers just waiting to pay what you won’t”. Never heard of that trick before!

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    I just drove a JCW Countryman for a couple days while my Cooper was in for service. Impressively solid vehicle, nice driving, comfortable, and high quality materials. Expensive even as it was fully loaded, but I see the appeal of owning one.

  • avatar
    GrayGhost

    Another Noob here, but I do believe Mini-Surf made valid points. PHEVs are usually niche animals. My lady drives an Audi A3 E-tron, very similar to the Mini reviewed here. Hoot to drive, 6.5 0-60, typical Audi handling. I think Audi claims the range is 25 or 30 in EV, but she gets less. BUT she gets enough to drive to work, lunch, client visit, back to office and home without ever burning an oz. of gasoline. Yeah, folks in the east bay or others with long commutes won’t find this particularly useful, nor worth the cost, but in her application it is sweet. She will go over a month without filling the gas tank and she drives every day. She is also very outdoorsy, runs crazy marathons in remote locations and stuff like that and can actually sleep in the E-tron with the seats folded down. I’m 6 1 and can’t.

    It is lazy to dismiss a PHEV for having a 20 mile EV range without understanding the vehicle is designed for specific applications and excels in same. Most drivers won’t have a reason to pay the $ penalty, but my gal loves it. Except when it discharges overnight because she doesn’t realize the vehicle is “on” when she exits. Yes, it has happened twice.

    I’d love a 300 mile EV range and I know that is coming. But I lost confidence in Elon to deliver my Model 3 by the end of next year so I bailed and got my deposit back in a week. So I still drive a larger ICE Audi, but I hope it is my last ICE car.

    Different cars suit different folks. Might explain the PT Cruiser…

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