2018 BMW MINI S E Countryman adds a Plug to MINI Fun

2018 BMW MINI S E Countryman (Aaron)

BMW’s British brand, MINI, has experimented with electrification before, but so far not with good results. The battery-electric MINI Cooper was a disaster of retrofitting, for example, but now MINI seems to have found the right formula in the S E Countryman plug-in hybrid.

The manufacturer says

The most spacious and versatile MINI ever, with our most advanced technology to date. A world-class TwinPower Turbo engine paired with the instant boost of an electric motor delivers unstoppable power, eALL4 all-wheel drive and the range to venture well beyond the everyday. Charging is optional. Electrifying MINI performance is not.


  • Manufacturer: BMW MINI
  • Year, Model: 2018 S E Countryman
  • Class, Type: Five-door hatchback
  • Propulsion system: Plug-in Hybrid
  • Base Price: $36,800
  • MSRP as tested: $39,700
  • Availability: Now


The new-generation BMW MINI Countryman is built on the same platform as the BMW X1 compact crossover, which explains why this MINI is a little more sophisticated in overall depth of appeal than are its brethren in the brand. The S E Countryman is, in fact, built on the same platform and powertrain design as is the X1 plug-in sold in China.

The 2018 BMW MINI S E Countryman is an all-wheel drive vehicle with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine up front, an automatic transmission turning the front wheels. At the rear is an electric motor turning that axle. In between that transmission and motor is a 7.6 kWh battery pack. In all-electric driving, the MINI S E Countryman moves in rear-wheel drive at up to 18 miles per charge. In hybrid drive mode, both the front and rear axles turn with engine and electric power respectively.

Total system output is 221 horsepower, with about 134 of that being from the engine. Compared to the standard gasoline MINI Countryman models, that’s a bit more power output, but the S E weighs a bit more as well, so the added power is basically a wash with the added weight. That weight is low-slung, thanks to the batteries, though, which gives the plug-in Countryman a far more nimble feel on the road.

Fuel economy in the 2018 BMW MINI S E Countryman plug-in is rated at 27 mpg combined, though we note that this number does not necessarily assume the more real-world driving mannerisms of most who are likely to own this PHEV MINI. We suspect most buyers will be urban and suburban, putting them in the category of folks more likely to be driving shorter distances at less than highway speeds. In that element, the plug-in will do far better than the EPA rating would suggest.

Even better, the interior of the 2018 BMW MINI S E Countryman hybrid is almost identical to the standard Countryman models in terms of roominess and versatility. The split-fold rear seating is a 40/20/40 split, as standard, allowing for a lot of cargo configurations and the rear seats themselves are the only adult-friendly option in the MINI lineup. Cargo space is also good.

The primary aesthetic differences between the MINI S E Countryman and its gasoline-only counterparts are found in exterior badging, which includes the E symbol on the rear hatch and over the fender hatch where the plug is located. Inside, some switches change and the instrument cluster is entirely different, with the plug-in MINI having a power consumption and battery meter replacing the tachometer found in most MINI models.

What we like

Fun MINI styling with a well-done and not over-hyped plug-in setup.

Good drive dynamics and versatility for the size.

What we don't

Not as hand-over-fist fuel efficient as some less pop culture options are.

Not terribly efficient on the highway.


The 2018 BMW MINI S E Countryman brings a plug to the MINI lineup in a way that makes sense. BMW has done a good job of integrating plug-in hybrid powertrains into its lineup of standard models and the Countryman PHEV is another good example of how understated but well-done the automaker has become at it. Like most of the plug-in variants of various BMW models, the S E Countryman drives better and feels more competent than its gasoline-only siblings.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The MINI S E Countryman was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week. During that time, a total of about 380 miles were put on the vehicle with varied passenger loads and cargo configurations.

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