MINI Cooper SE Countryman 2022 Review

Not only for its spacious interior, premium amenities, and endless customization options, but also for its charming looks and athletic handling, the Countryman has always been a popular choice. Many people overlook the fact that it's also available as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). Not that you can blame them; a meager 29 kilometers of electric-only range isn't exactly impressive.

The front axle of the Countryman PHEV is powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder combustion engine, while the rear axle is powered by an electric synchronous motor, resulting in all-wheel drive. It produces a total of 220 horsepower and 284 pound-feet of torque, and it does so through a 6-speed automatic transmission rather than the standard 8-speed. The show is powered by a 9.6 kWh lithium-ion battery, which provides a 29-kilometer electric-only range and a combined range of 479 kilometers.

Whether 29 kilometers is sufficient varies from person to person, but the fact remains that this electrified MINI pales in comparison to PHEV rivals such as the Kia Niro PHEV and Toyota RAV4 Prime. Granted, a full battery charge only got us 26 kilometers, and that was all stop-and-go city driving that heavily relied on brake regeneration. Using heated seats and steering wheel, as well as heating the cabin on a cold morning, will reduce that number even more. If you ask us, it's hardly competitive, but judging by its parent company, BMW, and the new batteries underpinning the i4 and iX, which provide over 400 kilometers of range, I'd say the future is bright. We may have to wait a little longer for the MINI platforms to be updated to accommodate the new battery packs.

MINI offers a fully electric Cooper SE with a range of 183 kilometers, but for those who need the interior space of the Countryman, this PHEV is the only option for the time being. However, it's still a blast to drive and should give those with patience a taste of what it's like to live with emission-free driving and the benefits and drawbacks of charging. At the very least, they won't experience range anxiety.

Acceleration is slow and apathetic when the engine is turned off and the Countryman is powered solely by electrons; it was designed to be driven in tandem with the engine, tagging in and out for optimal performance and efficiency. The three-cylinder, on the other hand, is raspier, rougher, and less polished than the four-cylinder. When you have the throttle pinned to the floor, it sounds like an angry bee's nest, though it's not nearly as harsh as the Lexus UX hybrid with its CVT, and we applaud MINI for sticking with an automatic torque converter. The 6-speed, on the other hand, is silky smooth and quiet, shifting seamlessly behind the scenes. Although paddle shifters are not available, you can still take control by inserting the gear shifter into the S gate to the left; however, we did not find this to be very useful.

The Countryman SE feels nimble off the line when both powertrains are engaged, but it lacks top-end thrust. The powerband's middle is also flat and uninspiring. The SE will accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds, which is four tenths faster than the S, but it still feels sluggish. We don't know why, because the transition from combustion to electricity is seamless. Perhaps it's because of the gear ratios, but we don't feel as connected to the machine as we once did. The steering isn't as direct, and we miss the regular MINI Cooper 3-Door's darty, athletic appetite. The blue pill formula has been sacrificed in this way.

While it accelerates enthusiastically around corners, the heavy batteries counteract the performance gains, though we doubt most owners will notice or care. Those with a taste for speed will seek out the JCW rather than a small sample of MINI's electrified future. That, or more spirited competitors like the BMW X2 or Mercedes-Benz GLA 35 AMG.

The Countryman's small footprint gives it an advantage, allowing it to maneuver through tight parking spaces and urban city centers with ease. It's also very fuel efficient; on a 400-kilometer round trip from Toronto to Buffalo, we averaged 7.3 L/100km, and we made full use of the lower American gas prices. The MINI, unlike some premium hybrids like the Lexus NX 350h, requires 91-octane premium gasoline, which could completely negate the electric advantage.

Except for the slightly smaller trunk, the interior of the Countryman SE is identical to that of non-hybrid models (40L less). This is due to the battery and motor being stored near the rear axle. It's still a good size, with enough room for two carry-on suitcases. There's no other compact vehicle that does a cabin as well as MINI. From the comically thick steering wheel to the digital instrument cluster that moves with the steering column, it's all about the focal points. We miss the analog example's nostalgic character, as well as the old, massive, and round speedometer mounted in the center of classic MINIs, but with the BMW and Rolls-Royce overlords abandoning everything for digital real estate, it was only a matter of time.

The Countryman is the ideal height for most people, making ingress and egress a breeze. Like a MINI Cooper, you won't have to bend down to crawl into the cabin, but you won't have to climb up like a BMW X5. Its strong suit is its interior space, which includes a plethora of storage cubbies and pockets for small items. Though my knees graze the front seatback (which has a dedicated alcove that provides some extra room for the knees), the Countryman's headroom and wiggle room are quite impressive for its diminutive stature. The rear seats slide fore and aft and are foldable, allowing you to pull the seats flat for additional cargo space.

The MINI Countryman's plug-in hybrid variant does little to persuade buyers that the brand has a bright future in electrification, but it's a solid first effort for MINI's largest offering, as it retains the brand's fun-to-drive theatrics, as well as the charm and customization that comes with it. It's nothing groundbreaking, and it's a little disappointing given how quickly the rest of the segment is moving, but we're confident this is just the beginning.


  • Model: 2022 MINI Cooper SE Countryman
  • Paint Type: British Racing Green
  • Base Price: $44,990
  • Price as Tested: $55,180
  • Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder with hybrid system
  • Horsepower: 220 hp
  • Torque: 284 lb-ft
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
  • Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 7.4
  • Observed Electric-only Range: 29 km

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