THE second-most powerful Mini to ever come to our shores will also be the kindest to the environment. Yep, after months of maybes, the brand’s long-anticipated first plug-in hybrid is finally confirmed for Australia.
Arriving late this year, BMW Australia managing director Marc Werner said the brand would soon “get bullish” on battery-electric vehicles, with Mini’s first segue into the segment coming via a 165kW petrol-electric hybrid Mini Cooper Countryman S E All4.
The short-range all-electric, all-wheel-drive hybrid will use Mini’s three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine powering the front wheels, and paired with a 65kW synchronous electric motor driving the rears. In European testing, this is good enough to return an official fuel use average of 2.1L/100km, with emissions of 49g/km – both beat the Toyota Prius hands-down. It has claimed 0-100km/h performance of 6.8sec.
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Real-world all-electric range for the Mini’s EV mode is quoted at up to 20km in the US (on paper it’s officially around 40km); for the Prius, it’s zero. BMW Australia has said that local testing is returning between 30 and 35km of pure EV range.
“We have been looking at the MINI plug Hybrid now for some time, and the feedback that we have from our dealers, and our customers, is really positive,” Werner said. “And of course you know that, as part of the BMW Group, we are committed to broadening our range of low-emissions vehicles, so it makes sense for us to bring the vehicle here, and give our customers the opportunity to choose a more environmentally friendly vehicle. .
“As for timing, or final details – we’re not quite there yet. But we can say that we are keen to bring the vehicle in, and we will see it here in the first half of 2019.”
The hybrid Countryman will clip along at up to 125km/h on electric power alone. Recharging the lithium-ion batteries via a wall socket will take as little as 2.5 hours, with Mini Australia investigating how it can reduce that time further using three-phase power. Placing the battery pack under the boot floor drops cargo capacity by 45 litres to 405L.
The plug-in Countryman sells in the US for about a 15 percent premium over the Countryman S, which would give it a circa $56,000 starting price by the time it lands here in Australia, the US’s different tax regime and all considered.