What Did We Get?
Seven years ago, we asked a simple question: “How big can a Mini get and still be called a Mini?” We added a brand-new 2011 Mini Cooper Countryman S to our long-term fleet to find out. And over the course of a year, we found that, despite a more substantial footprint and a somewhat hefty curb weight, Mini had successfully injected its fun-to-drive DNA into a small SUV.
We were skeptical that lightning would strike twice when the wraps were pulled off a new, even larger model last year. We decided this redesigned Countryman was worth a second go-round in our fleet, but there was some debate over which powertrain to get. A vocal contingent supported the Cooper S for its strong turbocharged four-cylinder, while others rallied for the new Cooper S E plug-in hybrid for a chance to explore its unique powertrain. At the end of the day, the Cooper S E won out, and we ordered a 2018 Mini Countryman Hybrid.
What Options Does It Have?
The 2018 Mini Countryman comes in four trim levels: Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works and Cooper S E. All are primarily differentiated by the engines underhood, with most option packages available on all four models.
And, boy, there are a lot of options to make you stray from the Cooper S E’s $37,650 base price (including destination). Even though this is a loaner from Mini, we kept the bottom line in mind when we spec’d our top-of-the-line Countryman. We ticked boxes for the supportive sport seats ($300), satellite radio ($300), head-up display ($750), and front and rear parking sensors ($500). And while the idea of a bright blue or deep green Mini appealed to us on an emotional level, we decided to go with the more typical Melting Silver paint ($500). The grand total was an even $40,000.
Note: Due to pricing and equipment changes throughout the 2018 model year, our Mini’s as-tested price may be slightly different from models produced at other points during the model year. Using Mini’s vehicle configurator, an identical Countryman would cost $40,700.
Why We Got It
Small crossovers have only gotten more popular since the first modern incarnation of the Countryman debuted in 2011. We are interested to see what changes Mini has made to the Countryman to make it more competitive in today’s even more aggressive automotive landscape. We’d also like to see how well it skirts the value line between traditional segments. After all, it’s too expensive to cross-shop against typical subcompact crossovers and too small to compete against compact SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. It also doesn’t have the brand cachet of rivals Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
On yet another level, we’re excited to try the new hybrid powertrain. We’ve driven the turbocharged three-cylinder in our long-term 2014 Mini Cooper, but we expect it will behave quite differently in this larger car, especially when augmented by the extra power from the battery pack.
Over the next 12 months, we’ll be looking to see what strides Mini has made in the area of electrification. After all, the Countryman S E is only the second plug-in Mini since the limited-production, lease-only Mini E electric vehicle of 2009-’10. How exactly does the battery component enhance the Countryman? All-electric mileage is estimated at a middling 12 miles, so is it more fair to consider this a performance-oriented model than a fuel-sipping variant? There are too many questions, but luckily we have 12 months in which to answer them.
Follow updates on our long-term road test for our latest thoughts and impressions of this 2018 Mini Countryman Hybrid.
The manufacturer provided this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.
Cameron Rogers, staff writer @ 987 miles