Alain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld
2019 MINI Countryman S E ALL4
Updated: Jul 25, 2019
This week we are reviewing the 2019 MINI Cooper Countryman S E ALL4 (PHEV) in Premiere+ trim. Our vehicle was assembled at the Born plant in the Netherlands and has a suggested MSRP of $53286 CAD.
Fun Factor: 8
Can it Family: 7
Karaoke Friendly: 7
City Cruising: 10
After trying out most of the MINI line up, we've decided at Driving Fun & Family Car Reviews to acquire this MINI Countryman as a long term test car. We will be updating any type of repairs or cost of maintenance in our review as the time comes. This is the first part of our review since we've taken ownership of the vehicle over a month ago. We've driven the MINI Countryman S E over 4200km up to now, on both long-distance and short distance. Now as the first part of our review, is the MINI Countryman S E as fun as it's counterparts, Countryman, Countryman S and JCW. We've been lucky to test the 3 other variants in the last 6 month to have an excellent idea of what the differences are between the four different variations before reviewing our vehicle. To be honest, before testing the MINI Clubman and MINI Countryman in Cooper variant with the 3 cylinder, we had our doubts regarding its performance, efficiency, fun aspects and reliability as we have tested several 3 bangers in our lifetime and have not been impressed with their performance.
The MINI line up proved us wrong, the DNA MINI has given these engines is far superior and has won best hybrid engine for 2019. The 3 cylinder engine found in our plugin Hybrid has applications in other BMW products, in reality, the 1.5L engine under the hood is based on the architecture of BMW 3.0L inline 6 engine, naturally with 3 cylinder less. Other applications of the Hybrid system can be found in the BMW i8. In MINI's use, both the hybrid engine and the turbocharged 1.5L engine produce a total output of 221hp and 284 lb-ft of torque, the gas engine is matted to a 6-speed automatic transmission and not an eCVT like the competition. MINI announces a 0-100km in 6.7 seconds for the 0-100km/h test, in our test, we achieved 100km/h in 6.55 seconds, we had to do several runs to make sure of our results. These results were obtained with 18-inch all-season tires. In our opinion the MINI Countryman S E is one of the most enjoyable Countryman's currently on sale, the reason is simple when you start the Countryman S E in eDrive, the electric engine pushes your MINI‘s rear wheels only, and as a result, it gives you the most go-cart feeling MINI ever. As per BMW, the electric engine has a maximum speed of 120km/h enough for most Americans roads; however, as we've tested the vehicle extensively, we were able to push the Countryman to speeds above 120km/h in the all-electric mode. To unlock the full potential of the MINI Countryman S E you can turn both the electric & gas power engine on, your rear wheels will start pushing you forward, and the front will bite for traction to bring you the 284lb-ft of torque. Even in corners, due to the RWD bias, corners are a lot more enjoyable as the front wheels can concentrate on what they do best, steer the car around corners.
Can the plugin Hybrid version of the Countryman be used as a family car? As mentioned above we were able to road trip in a MINI Countryman JCW and found that we had more than enough space to fit a stroller, one large suitcase, a tent and all the accessories needed for camping such as a cooler. However, the S E variant does take away a portion of the trunk due to the battery. It is still possible to fit everything, the only downside is that instead of everything being stored underneath the parcel shelf, it needs to be removed to fit everything. As for rear seating, the back seats can't be pushed back and forth compared to the non-hybrid versions, and you'll lose a little bit of headroom, so little that people will not even notice. Space is still plentiful for 2 adults in the rear, having 3 adults might be a squeeze, the middle seat is oriented more for children or small adults. Amenities such as heated seats are available for front passenger starting with the classic package that includes items such as panoramic sunroof, tinted rear windows, fog lights and 18-inch alloys. Your rear passengers will not have access to heated seats, nor is a heated steering wheel available due to the purist and very British way of wearing driving gloves, many may be perplexed by MINI not offering a heated steering wheel. Additional amenities provided in the Countryman: wireless charging for phones that are not of phablet size, larger sized phone will need to be charged using a USB cable, a classic USB is found underneath the center console, and another one is underneath the center console to future proof your vehicle. The rear seats can also be folded in a 40/20/40 fashion, meaning that you will not lose all passenger room when transporting larger goods. If all the seats are folded, the trunk is almost flat giving you 47.4 cubic feet of storage.
How is the Countryman S E when it comes to fuel efficiency, especially when talking about a hybrid plugin model. MINI announces an all-electric range of 19km, in our test in the past month, never ever did we only get 19km. The lowest electric range distance our car announced was 25km with very spirited driving and then again, once the counter show 0km of range, the battery keeps on giving thanks to the regenerative system found in this plugin hybrid. On regular days we see an all-electric range between 29-30km on a fully charged battery. In the city, we've observed even longer range when not using AC and just having the windows down when it permits. The HWY range is closer to 24-25km when driving over 110km/h when driving 120km/h and over your range does come close to 19km of all-electric range. Now once you've depleted your battery what happens?
In most cases, you still get about 1 to 2 km on all-electric, then, almost seamlessly, the engine turns on when higher loads are needed. The Countryman will than start working more like a traditional hybrid car, meaning the vehicle will push away in electric mode where it makes the most sense. In our test, we've achieved an average gas consumption of 5.7L per 100km this includes 50% HWY driving and 50% City driving. These results are on the higher end as we drove a 2000km road trip with our MINI as a traditional hybrid and plugged it in only when it was available, unfortunately, the route we used to drive to Washington DC did not offer many charging stations, and these results include several spirited driving KM. The other 2000km we've driven were mostly done in the city, and the car would mainly be used in MAX eDrive. The result we've achieved on the HWY without charging the vehicle was 6.6L per 100km on the HWY, and in the city, we averaged about at 1.9L per 100km on longer distances. MINI announces the gas consumption on their website as 8.4L per 100km in the city, 8.8 per 100km on the HWY with a combined result of 8.6L per 100km, in their press kit MINI claims combined fuel consumption of 2.4 L/100km. We are unsure how MINI came up with these results as we've never experienced these even when driving the car without being charged. The fuel tank of the MINI Countryman S E is smaller than its counterparts, it is equipped with a 36L fuel tank and as per MINI specifications should give you a total range of 439km with both the electric and gas-powered engine. Again we've never experienced this, the lowest fuel only range we've seen was 550km with an additional 25km of all-electric range, however most of the time we've seen a total range of 640km.
How good is the MINI Countryman S E when it comes to HWY driving. In the first week of ownership, we drove 2000km within 72h and never were we happier to sit inside the Countryman, the seats are well-bolstered making long road trip enjoyable, the only fault we could see is that the gas pedal is a little too far to the right for taller drivers. The acceleration of the Countryman from 90km/h to 120km/h in ECO and MID modes can sometimes feel delayed as the transmission is slightly hesitant before thrusting away in such a way that it might be surprising at first. In Sport mode the feeling is totally different, no hesitation just pure torque moving you forward.
Our car is equipped with the optional Harmon Kardon sounds system that is of decent quality for everyday use at that price point. The system feels tuned to a more urban and EDM music following. Other music styles will sound good, though it may not reproduce treble sounds as precisely. However, unless you're an audiophile, you might not even realize the difference and will be very happy with the sound system quality. Now moving to the infotainment, MINI uses a similar variation of BMW iDrive called MINI Connected, in our vehicle we've got the larger 8.8-inch high-resolution touchscreen that also includes Apple CarPlay, unfortunately, Android Auto is not yet integrated with MINI & BMW products at this time. It is simple to use even though it is touch screen we've been drawn to use the click wheel instead of the touchscreen outside Apple CarPlay. The menus are simple to navigate, the only item we could see improved is to have fewer sub-menus. Besides, that we would have like to see in the hybrid MINI is in the same menu as the off-road champion screen to add an additional screen towards achieving electric champion, compared to other hybrid's very little information on the electric usage is available within the infotainment.
Now how simple is it to install car seats? Starting with rear door opening fairly wide you will not have any difficulty entering most car seats and the higher stance of the car also means you don't have to kneel into the vehicle to install car seats. The ISOFIX ports are easily accessible and are hidden under flaps that open upwards, and that can be easily closed when not in use. The rear anchor port is best attached when the trunk is open otherwise the latch will not pass due to the tight fit of the parcel shelf. We've installed a variety of car seats, and the front passenger doesn't end up in the dash, MINI has well designed the rear cabin of the Countryman to make it usable for a family. Thanks to the flat bench, a child may still sit in the back with 2 car seats installed.
Now, how's the driving experience within the city? As mentioned above for anyone having a daily commute of less than 25km, you will not use a penny in gasoline, as you'll be driving around on your 7.6 kWh battery. If you do need to use the engine under the hood, you'll still have a very efficient way to get on your way in most cases we under 3L per 100km on 50-60km trips. The Countryman fits in tight places not as tight as the classic MINI Cooper luckily with the high resolution of the rear camera of the Countryman it will be a breeze to fit in the tightest spots. What we would like to see is a standard 360-degree camera for a car that is considered a premium vehicle. This also goes with the lane with blind-spot monitoring that is often only offered on higher-end trims as an option.
Maintenance that has been done on the vehicle at this time:
06/02/2019 Check engine light turned, solution: We called MINI Roadside assistance from our car and were immediately transferred to a technician that advised us that it happened as of a result from the gas cap not being closed properly. An oversight from the clerk at a New Jersey gas station with service, a little surprising since the gas tank of the MINI Countryman S E is under pressure. We were pleased with the resolution, and no dealer visit was necessary, especially since we were outside of Canada as the roadside assistant was able to help us live while we were stopped at a rest station.
06/10/2019 Horn was not functional and the solution: The horn had been disconnect due to being a show car. A quick trip to the dealer and it was back on!
Why would we buy the MINI Countryman S E ALL4 and what we like: The eco-friendly option for city driving, the fact that the car is RWD in electric mode, the quirky look of the vehicle making it look different compared to other offerings in this segment. The enjoyable driving experience and practicality for our family.
Why wouldn't we buy the MINI Countryman S E ALL4 and what we didn't like: Since we've purchased the car we will say what we would like to see on future models/improvement we would like to see. We would like to see an even more extended range of 45-50km, more safety features available even with entry-level models as standard or at least included in a base package.
Our vehicle was purchased at MINI Brossard and were helped by Dominic and have received exceptional service. We recommend this MINI location for any of your MINI needs.