Mini will soon sell its first plug-in hybrid car when the new Countryman arrives in UK showrooms next year.
The carmaker confirmed its first step into the hybrid market at the weekend, previewing what the second-generation compact SUV will look like for 2017.
The Countryman PHEV will be capable of driving at speeds of up to 78mph in pure-electric mode, the manufacturer has claimed.
The second-generation of the popular Mini crossover is due to be unveiled later in October, but ahead of the official unwrapping the brand rubber-stamped rumours that it would offer a petrol-electric version that charges directly from the mains.
A selection of images of a highly-camouflaged prototype model were released on Sunday, though the British carmaker owned by BMW refused to reveal the exact details of the powertrain that will propel its first production plug-in hybrid.
Most expect the Countryman PHEV to feature the same 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol petrol engine the current Mini hatchbacks and new Clubman all feature – the same engine that’s used in its parent-brands’ plug-in hybrid BMW i8 supercar – where it is combined with an electric motor.
While Mini claimed the new Countryman hybrid would be able to travel beyond the legal speed limit in electric-only mode, the official statement did not clarify for how long.
It only stated the new PHEV would be capable of ‘long-lasting electric driving’.
Official power output and price are yet to be disclosed, but Mini has confirmed the car will be all-wheel drive, with the electric motor powering the rear wheels and the petrol engine the front wheels.
The new model will have to incorporate both an electric motor and fairly heavy batteries to power it, but Mini has said the chassis and suspension will be exactly the same as the standard petrol and diesel Countrymans, with the additional electric components spread across both axles rather than being dumped at the back.
Mini also confirmed that the Countryman PHEV will have three different driving modes: Auto eDrive that automatically switches between electric and unleaded power on demand and can used electric-only thrust to speeds up to 58mph, Max eDrive for full battery use at a speed of almost 80mph and Save Battery mode that runs the petrol engine only – probably the best setting for motorway use.
‘With this model we want to convince Mini customers of the benefits of hybrid drive and impress everyone who already has hybrid driving experience with Mini’s unique go-kart driving feel’, head of Mini brand management Sebastian Mackensen said.
Apart from all the branding the plug-in hybrid Countryman will be decorated in, the tell-tale giveaway will be the charging socket for the high-voltage battery that’s located above the passenger-side front wheel.
The interior should look almost identical to the standard car, though there are subtle differences, such as the start-stop button in the dashboard glowing yellow instead of red and the rev counter in the instrument cluster displaying a power displaying instead of an RPM needle.